Thursday, July 31, 2008

Waltz from Jarna

My first session out on the island, I brought my "boat" fiddle - the one that is less valuable and more appropriate for living in a tent. What I found was, after working for nine hours and then doing camp chores, there was little energy remaining for playing anything so I brought it home. I also brought harmonicas and a tin whistle, all with the same result - not being played. So, it's a real treat to be at home and have the fiddle (the nice one) on the table, ready to be played at any given moment.
SK returned to the States after a month's travel to Europe, bringing some lovely Swedish tunes back with her. It was fun to try some of them out myself, although I don't have the ear yet to figure out all the subtle nuances that make the music truly Swedish in sound. SK, however, has that gift and we enjoyed listening to her while she visited here.
Richard, Toby and I went to Portland yesterday afternoon in search of the Men's Wearhouse where Toby was to be fitted for a suit for Bryan and Erin's upcoming September 27th wedding. I used the GPS while Richard drove - my first time really using this particular unit (my previous experience was with Bryan's smaller Garmin) and I think I did quite well putting in way points and navigating through the various features, though I never did find out how to get the silly thing to stop avoiding the toll highway (it kept wanting to redirect me to I-295 which we kept wanting to avoid!). The trip was a success, and we even managed to find the art supply store where I found a new watercolor sketch pad and some new watercolor pencils that I love.
Bryan is flying in tonight for a weekend visit, possibly bringing his friend Raphael along. Raphael lives in Florida and the plan is for him to fly into Manchester at about the same time as B so they can finish the last leg of the journey, to Wayne, together. Bryan has lots of plans while he is here in Maine, the main one to attend the wedding of Paul Wilson and Cynthia Phinney on Saturday- it should be a beautiful ceremony and reception.
Jen, Avery and Paige will be coming this weekend as well - an overnight visit so we'll plenty of time to have a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to some good girl time with Jen, and some play time with the short people.
Today I'll be making pesto with basil I picked this morning (before the rain and thunder), cleaning the house up (taking care of the rest of my camping gear), perhaps writing and sketching a bit, and playing some tunes!
Waltz from Jarna comes from the Waltz Book, Volume Three.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Bye to Marshall Island... for now

The Common Yellow Throat Warbler was an ever present fixture at our camp site near Long Point on Marshall Island, along with the Song Sparrow. Before sunrise, the sounds of the morning would start... the humming drone of diesel engines as lobstermen started hauling their traps, the rhythmic slapping of waves on the cobbled seawall, the constant toot of the foghorn every nine or ten seconds or so, and the witchity-witchity of the Common Yellow Throat.
This summer intership is about 3/4 over, the Marshall Island segment completely done. I've gained a wealth of information and experience from a variety of sources, each having their own particular slant on the concept of conservation, each with merit and each offering the opportunity for questions and ideas on the subject. I've also learned a lot about myself - that I can keep up with young people, that I am stronger than I imagined, that I can work well within the structure of a team, that I love the outdoors more than I ever knew. All good things.
I have a week off before heading north for my final session, that one will be at Seboomook Dam. Until then, I'm catching up with family and friends, doing laundry, enjoying this place I call home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Logan Bread

I made this Logan bread from a recipe online - the photo is from the same web site - to take with me to the island. I have been buying granola bars, oatmeal packets, and granola cereal but decided to try and minimize my baggage this trip by consolidating breakfasts and snacks into this one hearty item. I used dried cranberries and chopped up dried apricots, along with some sunflower seeds. It tastes delicious! I have a couple packets of oatmeal and a little bit of granola cereal left from last week, I'll take them along for variety.

Thank You

I have intended to get thank you notes out for all the lovely birthday gifts, but I'm afraid I'm running out of time and may not get them out before I leave (there's still hope, but not much!) Just in case I don't finish them, I wanted to extend a warm "thanks" to everyone for the bouquet of flowers, pottery, letters and poems, cake, cookies, bread, pictures, rock, black walnuts, porcelain bowl, cards, hat, and photographs. I had requested hand made gifts this year, and was well rewarded. I loved everything, especially your thoughtfulness and creativity. The "Fireflies" picture was done by Avery.

Happy Shower!

Erin's packages arrived just in time for her bridal shower in California yesterday. Getting married and having families on opposite sides of the country can present a challenge when it comes to something like this, but our family has had some practice in absentee showers and parties over the years - children, nieces, and nephews living far away still have celebrations of which we like to be part. So, in June, we gathered here at our house with unwrapped gifts, piles of wrapping paper, and a table of party food and spent a lovely afternoon viewing presents and then wrapping them. We ended up with three cartons which were mailed out on July 7th, it seemed like plenty of time for them to travel to California for Erin's shower on July 19th. When I got home from the island on Wednesday, I checked the USPS web site to track the packages and was dismayed to see only that they had been "accepted" on July 7th! No other information! I kept checking online, made a trip to the local post office for more information, and then resigned myself to the fact that I'd done all I could, and the packages would either make it or not - because I leave for the island again on Monday, I wouldn't have any other chance to check on their location. Last night Bryan called to let me know that the packages finally arrived - at the end of the shower! Erin had opened all her gifts, and everyone was visiting and relaxing when the mailman arrived with three packages. Erin signed for them, and the party started all over again! The "Maine" gifts made quite a presentation all the way around! We're all happy that we could be part of Erin's big day in California yesterday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweet Fern

On the airstrip at the northern end of the island, there are sweet ferns growing abundantly. One day, our team leader picked enough to make a pot of tea. It was one of the few damp, rainy days we experienced there, and the tea was delicious - the first time I've ever had tea made from something freshly picked. Although I'm a coffee drinker in the morning, I started enjoying a cup of tea after dinner, even if it wasn't made from freshly picked sweet fern!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home for a Few Days

We saw this ship crossing the bay during our lunch on Saturday... quite impressive on the water.

This is the beach at Sand Cove. The water was cool in spite of the hot sun of the day. There must have been a hundred sand dollars down near the water line... maybe it could be called Money Beach?

A lot has happened in the past ten days, most of which can be condensed into working on trails on Marshall Island. Sometimes the crew of seven works together to saw and clear blown down trees, and sometimes we split into a couple of groups to work in different areas of the island maintaining trails. Either way, there's a lot of physical labor and team camaraderie involved. We start our days at 7:00am and finish at 4:30pm, exhausted but happy that we've done good work. Evenings are spent doing chores like cooking, pumping drinking water, or cleaning up after dinner. It's nice to be home, however, to relax and catch up with Richard, friends and family.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Similar, Yet Different

It amazes me sometimes how similar we are, as humans, to one another and that similarity can actually be the cause of discourse! Maybe it's just that I have a hard time accepting my faults and prefer to see them in someone else :) Like these flowers, both yellow centered with white petals, both growing in the wild, both sturdy and beautiful - different sizes, different leaves, other subtle differences. Kind of like humans! I can't decide which one I'm more like today, the smaller flowers with delicate fringy petals grouped on one stem or the taller solitary flower that stands on its own stalk... maybe it doesn't really matter, maybe it's okay to just be a flower today!
I shared my Nature Journal briefly with my friend Robin this past week, and at her request I dropped it off for her to read and review while I'm away. When I dropped it off, she informed me that she had started her own journal and that her granddaughter also wanted one. I can not describe how happy it made me to have passed on this experience to others!
No new posts will be made for the ten days that I'm away, but you can be assured I'll continue to sketch and journal my activities on the island, and that I'll share a few highlights when I get back! And if anyone else out there is inclined to do so, jot down some thoughts and sketches to share with me!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Earth Star

Richard and I went exploring the wilds of Wayne and ended up at a desert-y sand dune not far from where we live. The dune is a glacial deposit left behind in a long esker-like ridge. The vegetation was primarily gray birch, white pine, black cherry, and poplar with some grasses and other things. As I was sketching some trees, Richard brought me some treasures, unidentified until I researched further at home and found out they are Collared Earthstars, an inedible mushroom. I was surprised because I thought they looked like a split nut. These Earthstars are primarily found in woodland litter.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Here's a sketch I did at Schoodic last month. I just got my journal back and wanted to share some of the things I'd done. I was pretty happy with this one, because when my dad saw it, he said," I know just where that is."

Are You Ready?

UnitedHealth cuts 2008 outlook as premiums slipWall Street heads to higher openStarbucks to close 600 US stores, rein in growthJune car sales plummet; more declines expectedBlockbuster withdraws plan to acquire Circuit CityManufacturers struggle to overcome rising pricesOil rises above $141Salvage yard haven for do-it-youself customers

These are all the headlines from this morning's Yahoo opening page. It was amazing to be out of touch with the news for a week, not so much during the week because honestly, we didn't miss having radio or television, staying busy instead with MCC work, camp chores, and experiencing nature. It wasn't until the ride home when we turned on the radio in the Suburban that we all looked at each other incredulously as we listened to the news - news that consisted of the same headline topics as Yahoo posted today. Scary and eerie news that should not be taken for granted and expected to be fixed by the government or even to iron itself out.
So, are you ready? How prepared are you to live simply? What does that mean for you? How much can you comfortably, or uncomfortably, cut out of your life? How will you react when you go to the store and the shelves are less full, or offer fewer choices? What does survival mean to you?
Heavy thoughts for so early in the morning, but I couldn't help but express my concerns and wonder how everyone else out there is mentally, and physically, dealing with what seems to be lurking around the corner...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fieldy Meadow

This meadow is beside the forest where we camped on Marshall Island. The first couple of days we camped up on the hill at the abandoned air strip, but them moved down to this area where the tents would be more protected from the hot sun. The last few days were foggy and damp with some rain, so the forest also protected us from driving wetness. The meadow is full of grasses and thistles and bayberry, with beach pea near the rocky sea wall and scattered spruce trees here and there.
This morning, on Pine Needle Alley, I hear robins and blue jays and airplanes... different from the warblers and thrushes and crashing waves of the last week. And this morning, I will have at least two cups of coffee rather than the one I've had each day on the island. The hot shower felt good when I got home last night, and it's nice to be washing the smelly laundry. Primitive living is fun and I'm so happy to be having this MCC experience, but I have to admit, the comforts of home are pretty comfortable!