R. smelled skunk on waking. i went out to look around. but the skunk must have run off. which way? is this the skunk run, a mown lane between an old barn and corn field?
We’ve had critter encounters, sort of. The phoebe-bug-spider observation. A phoebe, in-flight, drove a bug into one of several webs, then backed off as a giant spider began feverishly winding it. But the bug escaped! The phoebe gave chase, snatched it back flit across to the powerline and swallowed it! I stood at the porch door looking through the screen, watching the web and drama, surprised.
The bear must have come up the driveway. The image, of course, is not of the driveway, but our ragged wildish landscaping.
We live under a ridge in a narrow vale along an edge of which we snowshoe. This is a mountainous u-shaped valley with deadend road but once extending up the low mountainside to meet another road in these hills. The old settlers actually drove wagons of between the slopes. Don’t know how they did it. Anyway, it’s all wooded now and you can see the old ruts they made. Saplings grow in them. Sometimes, if I’ve “got turned around and woods” (as they say) and I come on one of these mostly hidden tracks, I have the feeling of gratitude, and can follow along until I come to an ATV trail or road.
Posting here in honor of his recent passing over the dark river.
One of my heroes was lost on a mountain in Maine. Not just any mountain, but The Greatest Mountain—Katahdin, it was named of the Abenaki. Highest mountain in the state and sharing with downeast coastal Quoddy Head first light each day in the continental U.S.. The mountain has a distinctive profile, standing lone and long. Its two often cloud swathed peaks are connected by a narrow path of eroding stone called the Knife Edge, some places 2-3 ft. wide, some places dropping off almost sheer to the valley below.
18° outside this a.m., 57° in the bedroom. Fahrenheit. Prediction is for 10° below 0n Sunday morning. Our last post was a prayer for snow. New England neighbors well south of us got more than enough at that time, but here, where there is plentiful use for it, snow on the ground was patchy, old and stiff. No good for skiing or shoeing. It’s been like that all winter. Yesterday we got a very pretty fall of 4 in. which helped some. Usually by this time we’ve posted some snowshoeing entries. We went through level woods past the snowy stream and our neighbors’ on shoes, exhilarated, impressed of the great beauty all around us. And the sun shining through trees from above the slope opposite. This picture was taken this morning at temperature check.
In previous winters it went something like this:
Can we tell? Does this scene take place in winter? Or in mud season?
The pulp trucks make havoc of roads at this time of year. You see signs posted: “heavy loads limited.” And warnings: “frost heaves.” “Bumps.”
A professor of American studies taught our undergraduate class on Maine writers at UMF. When I joined the course I was a bit disappointed to discover that contemporary novels were not to be considered. Since then I’ve been grateful it was otherwise, but I would not mind taking the course I had hoped for even now. Professor Jay Hoar taught that Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs was considered a realistic novel in 1896, but had since been viewed, by academic regionalists, as an example of fiction by a local colorist. Willa Cather, writing in the preface to my paperback edition, grouped this book with The Scarlet Letter, and Huckleberry Finn as lasting American novels. “I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenely.”
“Do you still want to go hunting with me?”
At 7:30 we walked up Deer Hill Road together, me in hunters orange vest trying to match my quicker to Seth’s long languorous paces. He was maybe 6 ft. 3 in., dressed in denim and flannel, soon to vest himself in hunter’s blaze orange; cradling Pop’s new walnut stock Winchester 30-30 in the crook of his left arm. He was two months into his twenties.
When we reached the powerline he donned the vest and loaded six brass shells into the chamber, each clicking into place. We started off over the frost-stiffened ground, every brown leaf and fern blade finely etched in delicate whiteness. Then I noticed my sneakers. Seth did too. He gave me a sorry glance and smiled. My feet would be soaked when frost came out of the ground, drawn by the sun that was even now rising, line of sight, between the mountains.