I’ve been in beautiful places and seen interesting things while away from Amy’s Five On Friday for a few weeks. You may join us if you’re a blogger by following the link. It’s a good way to meet other bloggers, see places and things you’ll likely never see in person, and be part of a blogging community. If you’re not a blogger you’ll still get to see new things. Here’s where I’ve been.
This Old Tree
This old tree with a puzzling rectangular hole lies on the shore of East Musquash lake. I think the hole was cut so that something could live in the dead tree, but what? What would live there that needs such a large hole? Duck boxes have small round holes. Any ideas?
A ferry across Lake Champlain between Ticonderoga, NY and Shoreham, VT. A farm tractor and tedder rake were also on the ferry. That’s something you don’t see every day. The ferry is fun to take and it saves about 20 minutes. When I’ve been on the road for nine hours every spared minute matters. Downtown Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I hadn’t been there since I was 16. It’s changed a lot, and not for the better. You can barely see the pier from the road now. It was fun getting there. I was with a new friend, in her tiny BMW convertible with the top down, holding my camera out like a tourist.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Pyramid Lake, Paradox, New York. I spent six days here at a writing retreat. This was my third year at the retreat and my first 1,000 mile trip as the driver. Having a new truck with Onstar has given me a new sense of freedom. I know the truck isn’t going to break down (under 4,000 miles) but if I happened to get a flat tire I have roadside assistance to rescue me as long as I’m on pavement. Onstar gave me turn by turn directions. I didn’t love five lanes of rush hour traffic Friday night but I did it.
Best of all, Camp Sweet Family Camp. Built in 1951 by my then nine year old mother, Great Grampa John and other family members.
My pointed effort to unplug from the internet and phone started in 2014 when I attended a silent writing retreat. The location doesn’t have wifi and cell reception is sparse; if you walk through certain spots at the right time your phone might connect long enough to download a text or two. Texts are mostly left to be read when I get home. Unplugged 2016 starts tomorrow when I leave for the same silent writing retreat.
Two years ago I sat down with pen and paper and wrote my heart out. Holed up in a cramped, homely bunk room by myself, I wrote almost every free moment, and what I churned out was excellent, especially for a first draft. I less involved last year as I worked through a couple of more difficult things. This year I’ll be fully immersed again, writing like a madwoman, and taking two workshops rather than one as I was last year.
Writing & Reading
Plans change. The piece I wanted to write before I leave wasn’t written. There were too many other things I had to do in writing and life to get to it, and now I don’t know what I’ll read. There will be writing assignments in each workshop so choosing one of those pieces is an option. I used to be excited about reading my work to an audience because it was nerve wracking, something I needed to take a deep breath and dive into. Now that I’m no longer nervous it’s lost its edge. Maybe I’ll find something new about reading to an audience that excites me this year.
Silent Writing Retreat?
Silence. Not completely, but the right amount of silence to not interrupt anyone. We’ll be laughing and talking in places like the beach and dining hall but in our cabins, on the trails and in other places where writing happens, it will be quiet. We nod to acknowledge each other on paths but there’s no talking because someone you pass might be writing in her head.
Unplugged 2016 – no outside news at all. I see a little local news in the morning when Steve has it on.
I keep the television and radio off stations that carry the news but I can’t get away from news and negativity of this modern world but still see it on social media. It’s wearing. It’s depressing. Being unplugged will do a lot for my heart and soul. Each year I’ve come home to spend less time on social media and more time unplugged, and I’m sure this year will be the same. Maybe more so.
Do you unplug for a while? Could you? What do you do while you’re not being dragged down by the outside world?
I wrote this yesterday morning when I was disappointed and disheartened. The state of the world and the inability to visit with friends online without having a lot of hate and discontent thrown at me is upsetting. I needed to set some boundaries with people who are not used to me saying “sorry…no…” Self-preservation is important, and that involves not setting myself up as a target in some topics that get ugly fast. I headed outside earlier than normal because finding peace of mind outdoors is the best way to ground myself again.
Finding Peace in Beauty
I went outdoors early this morning. The much needed rain stopped during the night. I think we’re probably still two inches below normal but we got enough to give the pond and garden the boosts they needed. The Silkie hen and her three checks spent their first night loose in the hen house so they needed to be checked on first. I took food and water and spent a few minutes leaning against the wall, watching the interaction with the other birds. Sweetie’s a good mother. When the other birds get too close to her babes she lets them know it’s time to back off.
Finding Peace on the Homestead
The turkeys have outgrown their small overnight box and moved into one that’s 30 inches tall. There are seven now, down one quickly when the failure-to-thrive poult died. These seven are growing like weeds. When their box tipped to let them loose they emptied out like popcorn, running around the pen, flapping and “flying.” Happy, healthy birds. They’re amusing.
Looking toward the pond as I left the turkeys, I spotted momma snowshoe hare eating clover beside the clump of trees where the kits were. I didn’t harm the when I held them last week and said a little thanks for that.
Finding Peace in the High Tunnel
It was still chilly in the high tunnel. I opened the door to let the breeze in, nature’s way of pollinating tomato plants while the pollinators are still too cool to move early in the morning. The gourds, cucumbers and tomatoes needed to be pruned and attached to the twine. Snipping the vines, weaving some of them into the twine, and watching a baby garter snake help me put my life into perspective. I took the scenic route back to the house to make a mental note of what I wanted to pick for a fresh bouquet.
Next week I’ll be at a silent writing retreat, out of reach of a signal and away from the ugliness of the world. I’ll spend the week with wonderful, creative women as we hone our craft together. I’m looking forward to finding peace of mind outdoors with them.
It’s Friday afternoon after a busy week. This morning I was up and out early, weeding and watering, transplanting onions that needed to be thinned, pulling carrots and radishes that are ready to be eaten, clipping tomato and gourd vines to twine, and glancing out the door of the high tunnel now and then to make sure Zoey Monster was still waiting patiently for me. She ran off a while ago, was gone for four hours, and scared herself so bad she hasn’t done it again. There’s a water bowl in the high tunnel so the dogs can get a drink but it’s too warm in there for either of them to want to stay long this time of year.
Sweetie and her three 11 day old Silkie chicks are in a pen in the high tunnel. This is the last night they’ll stay there. They’re by the edge of the tunnel with a constant breeze blowing in on them to keep them cool, but tomorrow the temps start to resemble summer by climbing into the 80’s. By day’s end, as long as everything works out, there will be eight poults (baby turkeys) peeping in the house. The meat chickens will be here in late July. The pig is being raised by Wayne and Joe. We have more than enough eggs between the ducks and chickens, and ducks to send to freezer camp. I’m going to shoot a bear in September and a deer with my bow in October,. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.
Unrest in the World
You’ve seen the news about Britain leaving the EU, right? It affects the entire world. I’m grateful to live the way we do, where we do. We can take care of ourselves, something a lot of people can’t do these days. That’s a scary thought.
Ooops Steve’s home already. Gotta run. I have more to ramble on about but I’ll save it for another day.
I haven’t been home for the Friday fun in a few weeks. Last week I was on my way to Boston to spend the weekend with Kristin and Matt. It was a much-too-short trip. We spent hours on Kristin’s screened in porch, knitting and talking. I hated to leave and can’t wait to go back. I’d be happy to stay right there in the porch, drink coffee and visit, have lunch and supper delivered, and stay longer.
Here’s a little of what we did Saturday.
Kayaking on Charles River
Boston Public Market
I love Boston Public Market. The booths are owned by real farmers working real farms. You can buy eggs (Duck eggs are $1 each), cheese, cured meats, mushrooms, vegetables and fruits, artisan crafts and prepared foods. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something…like chocolate from Taza. I passed up a hot cocoa drink and now I regret that decision, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. Maybe I should order from Taza’s website. Kristin’s drink was delicious.
It was after lunch time when we got to the market and we were hungry. I had Fancy Mac ‘n Cheese, good but not as good as I expected. Kristin had a cheesy baked potato that was okay but dripping with oil. It’s funny how fussy a person can get after cooking with the best fresh ingredients for so long, right? We came home from our day in Boston (Kristin lives outside Boston) to change clothes, then we walked to an Irish pub to have supper. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too windy, and cool in the evening so it was great sleeping weather after a busy day.
Lemon Balm Sugar Cookies – good enough to share the recipe!
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Here you go. Do as you please. You’re welcome to edit this free bald eagle photo to suit your needs. I cropped it for Instagram. The photo is full sized so it’s almost 7M. With a little editing (or not, your choice) it’s suitable for print. If you use the photo online please link back to A Life In The Wild. It’s http://alifeinthewild.com. You don’t have to use my name on the photo, only the link if you use it online.
I spotted the eagle while we were scouting for wild turkeys this morning. It sat on the edge of the clearing at the power line. We saw two bald eagles, a deer, only seven turkeys, and waterfowl. More eagles than deer. Imagine that. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember how many people have never seen a bald eagle. I don’t take it for granted in any way but they’re so common here now that we see them all the time. There are a mated pair and an immature here almost daily. Maine had a minimum of 630 nesting pairs in 2013. For comparison, there were 20 known nesting pairs in 1978. They’re thought to be killing a significant number of common loons in Maine.
If you see other photos you’d like to use as the blog grows please feel free to ask. The worst I can say is no, and most likely I’ll say yes. I appreciate you asking. Photos found on the internet are not “public domain” and free to use unless you have permission. “Borrowing” is the word I saw used in a blog this week. It’s not borrowing, it’s stealing. Think of photos as someone’s car. If you take it without permission you’re stealing. That makes it simple to keep straight.
To save the photo: right click and choose “save image as.”
I’m joining in on Five On Friday – April 15 this week. I’m chosen five highlights or activities of my week. If you’d like to join in you can find the information at the Five on Friday link.
I’ve been working outside and in the high tunnel, wrote a freelance piece for 1800Gear, and working on this new blog. We’ll be working outside this weekend. I think black fly season will start early so we want to get as much done as possible before they’re unbearable. We plan on taking a little time out to do some fishing. There are a couple of small streams I’d like to explore this spring. It would be nice to have fresh brook trout for supper.
Monday was off to a beautiful start. If you click on the photo you’ll get to see more photos of the sunrise.
I made whole wheat sourdough bread, as usual. I tried a batch of sourdough rye but it was a disaster. I didn’t have the hydration right so it stuck to the Banneton. I haven’t figured out how to get the dough off the fiber yet.
The deer are coming to the food plot earlier now. They’ve been here in late afternoon. I didn’t see them but there are photos on the game camera. It’s time for antlers to start growing so I’ll be looking closely at the pictures.
I’ve been watching the amount of damage a porcupine is causing to trees on Democrat Ridge. Some of the trees are gnawed but others have been girdled and will die. There are at least two dozens trees damaged.
Last night on our way back from looking for a place to fly fish we saw this yearling white-tailed deer. Do you notice anything unusual? Look closely. It’s a piebald, also called roan. It has white fur where white fur doesn’t belong.
Good morning sunrise! When the sky is tinged with red to the west you know the sun is doing beautiful things as it rises in the east. I went out with camera in hand, Ava and Zoey ready to chase squirrels, and watched the sun come up. It’s the last I’ll see of the sun today as we have a couple of days of rain in store. It’s 22* this morning but later in the week it’s going to warm up into the low 50*’s. I’m looking forward to transplanting tatsoi, chard and beet greens in the high tunnel. It will be warm in there, hot if I don’t leave the door open. I’ll have my hands in the soil today as I finish transplanting seedlings into six packs and sowing more seeds.
Steve is on his way this early morning to Boston with friends to see the Red Sox opening day game. This is a yearly trip for them. For me it’s a day I’m up early to see him off and have the rest of the day to do my own thing. He’ll be very late getting home and I’ll be sound asleep. I won’t be cooking or cleaning today, have already had the dogs out to run around, and have only two more outdoors chores before the rain starts. I need to let the ducks and chickens out, bring them water and gather eggs, and I need to bring in enough firewood to last through tomorrow morning.
I think I’ll thumb through magazines to look for flower garden ideas. I’m going to start a long-term landscaping project this year complete with trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers and herbs, amphibian habitat, and a garden gnome or two. I’ll be asking for your suggestions and help as I know almost nothing about this project of mine.
Early morning dog walking is one of my favorite things of spring. We were a little late for our “early” but a lot of folks were still in bed. The woodcock weren’t peenting anymore, it was so late. The chickadees were calling their confusing call of “fee-bee. fee-bee. fee-bee.” I don’t think the phoebes and eastern wood pee-wees have returned yet.
The grouse, or a grouse, has returned to the old pile of logs left behind after a logging job. The slow thump. thump. thump. picks up to a rapid-fire drumming as the grouse beats its wings. He’s looking for love.
Peter O’Neil brook is rushing and loud though not as high and fast as usual for early April. Without snow melt or much rain fall yet the brook has been low for months. I can hear it clearly as it’s only a third-mile from the house.
The ice is out down at Snapping Turtle Pond. It went out during the night two nights ago, a nice surprise for Ava yesterday morning. The look on her face was priceless. She stopped in her tracks 40 feet from the pond to stare, head tipping back and forth, adorable perky ears twitching. Could it be? Open water? Oh Joy! Pure joy! She raced to the pond, ran in and abruptly turned around and climbed out. Yes, the water is open but it still feels as though it was blanketed with ice a few hours earlier. She was disappointed. She swam but only long enough and far enough to turn herself around. There wasn’t any swimming this morning. She glanced at the water but spent her time there looking for a mink in the fire pit.
We passed British Soldier’s Cap (Cladonia cristatella) on the way back. It’s growing on our mailbox post. That horrible old mailbox and it’s ugly stand have to go. Have to go. But I’ll save the log the mailbox has perched on for the last 17 years and use it in the perennial garden. The sky spit a little snow, enough to catch a glimpse of a falling flake out of the corner of my eye but not enough to be sure it was snow. Another flake, then another, and yes, “spitting snow,” not flurries. If it weren’t for early morning dog walking I would have missed it.
It was warm enough in the house and outside last night to not have a fire overnight but cool enough inside and out this morning to need a fire. We’re still burning our fourth cord of wood for the winter though we’ll be through it by the end of the month. I grabbed an armload of dry cedar from the garden shed, called Ava and Zoey back to the house, and settled in. Steve made coffee before he went in for weekend duty. I poured a mug of steaming coffee and topped it off with heavy cream and maple syrup. The fire is burning and the woodstove has warmed enough to nearly stop it’s creaking and groan as it expands. The house isn’t warm yet but it will be soon.
Early morning dog walking – best way to start my day. What do you enjoy about early morning?