Sunday, January 29, 2017

Breaking Free

This afternoon I took a walk down the woods road that gently slopes down into a hardwood bottom and takes a hard right to the west shadowing Standing Boy Creek. During most of the early fall Standing Boy was bone-dry due to extended summer heat and drought. At the present, Standing Boy has a fresh flow of rainfall flowing through its twisting veins. Tiny, slender islands of sands separate it into many little branches, and pressed into those fingers of dry land are tracks of deer, coyote, and raccoon.

It's a windy day here, and during my walk the usual twittering of birds was replaced with the groans and creaks of trees bending at its gusts. Brown, dry leaves spun making a whirring and tinkling sound. Yet, they stubbornly refused to detach from their branches.

Here and there the monotony of the colorless landscape was broken by lively splotches of green provided by pines and cedar. At the edge of Standing Boy are fan palms; they, too, never submit to the searing heat or chilling frost. All year long they bear the signs of life in their long, slender, emerald shoots. However, the one I've included appeared it was trying to break free of its roots and soar off to warmer climates.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

This morning I met my sister, Barb, for breakfast at The Governor's restaurant in Old Town, Maine. We had great conversation revolving around faith, family, and legacy. Not a single word about politics. Our family is hardly in lockstep regarding the latter, but we are not the least reluctant to discuss our divergent views. Today, though, we just wanted to be brother and sister and family.

After breakfast I drove as far as I could down Oak Point Road, parked, and walked through snow to the river's edge where our cabin has stood since 1998. Along the way, I viewed evergreen trees upon which snow clung like cotton-balls. White lines traced the limbs of naked oaks and maples. It's a cloudy day--an almost smoky atmosphere--and when I unlocked the cabin door and stepped across the threshold I was in a space that, like the Celtics of old, we call "A Thin Place." In the center of the rustic dwelling is the Jotul wood stove. Opening its rectangular door I wadded up newspaper, placed kindling upon it, and struck a match. Soon a fire was pulling oxygen through the vents and stoking a warm, bright glow heating the cold air surrounding me. At the cabin there is a quiet you can't find everywhere.

Our cabin has "Shorey" written all over it: my rough and tumble-ness; Sandy's quaint touches, and our kids and friends initials carved into the posts reaching up to the steep pitched roof. Unity in diversity is possible. Pulling my red-canvas chair up close to absorb the heat of the crackling wood fire, I clicked on my smart-phone and watched the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America. As the pageantry unfolded, I felt like I was in an alternate universe. My breath turned to steam, uninsulated walls surrounded me, a big sailfish hanging on the western gable-end of the cabin, and outside, winding north and south like a white ribbon, the frozen, lifeless Penobscot River.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will gather with my siblings to celebrate Mom's 88th birthday. Later in the day I will get together with our good friend, Carol. Last, but not least, I'll have dinner with Glen, Elizabeth, and Gabby Gail. Love my family and friends!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I arrived in Maine yesterday. By the standards of the Pine Tree State the weather was fairly mild (20's). This morning I awoke to a fresh blanket of snow that fell during the night and continued to flutter down during the dim light of a new day. Grey clouds, so typical for this time of year, hovered low. I counted 25 turkeys filling their bellies and gullets at the feeders my brother-in-law keeps well supplied. Bluejays and morning doves darted and swooped in amongst the gobblers grabbing whatever morsels they could.

Along with my sisters, Brenda and Barbara, we went to see mom this morning where she resides at The Meadows. Just 24 hours earlier she took a trip by ambulance to the ER, but today was back among her friends. Mom is always the same; delighted to see her children, undaunted by setbacks, and grateful for every little thing life serves up. In the family area where we sat and talked jigsaw puzzles, patiently assembled piece by piece by mom and her friends, are framed and hang on the walls. On a card table is another puzzle, a Norman Rockwell print jigged and sawed and 75% complete. Mom said it's a really difficult one to solve, but I'm betting it will soon be framed and on the Walls of Fame!

My vocation has given me the opportunity to be in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-care facilities my entire adult life--The Meadows is staffed with some of the most dedicated caregivers in the business. On Saturday we will have a party to celebrate mom's 88th birthday!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The thin red line of the mercury rose to 73 degrees today, but the bright warming rays responsible have dissipated, and the sun has sunk below the horizon. Yesterday, the moon expanded to its fulness, but a day later it remains the dominant light in the evening sky.

When I can, I drop the tailgate on my pick-up truck, sit quietly, and let my soul synchronize with the darkness around me, and the stars above me. To my right, our drive way--which is more than 1/5 a mile long--bends toward the northeast and then makes an arcing turn towards the north. Where the end of the driveway meets Holland Road, there is a street light that glows a yellowish-orange and illuminates a swath of the pasture. From where I sit, on the tailgate of my truck, I see the silhouettes of deer as they cross the treeless expanse.

Josh is here, and as I write, we are sitting around the circular glow of the fire pit with a couple of his friends; a photographer and an instructor from Columbus State University. Smoke rises, but not very high, and like fog it hugs the terrain and blurs the landscape. It's a wonderful world!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Makes Me Happy

By southeast standards, it has been cold at The Shire! As the sun broke over the horizon the last two mornings we have seen lows of 22 and 17 degrees.

Creatures of all sorts broke their feeding patterns and took uncommon risks trying to ingest enough calories to offset the deficit brought on by sub-freezing weather. This afternoon 22 hooded merganser ducks invaded our pond. I'm guessing the fingerling-sized fish were easy pickings. Through binoculars, I watched them dive beneath the chilly waters and emerge gulping down their catch.

Yesterday morning 80-100 wild birds suddenly converged on seeds and suet at our feeders. Tiny pine warblers accounted for about 80. An assortment of other birds, out-shined by bright red male cardinals and their mauve girlfriends, pecked away at the free food.

I ran out of corn, so on Saturday I scattered sunflower seeds where I usually feed the deer. Today at dusk, a doe cautiously fed on the pile of black seeds.

Makes me happy :)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

First Night...

We awakened to pouring rains, and throughout the day there has been no sign of the sun. No complaints. Here, in the Southeast, rainfall was barely measurable July through November. December, has blessed us with slow moving weather systems, and low grey clouds periodically releasing their stores of water. Our pond is refilling; no need for our fish to learn to walk. Fescue grass, which will stay green as long as there is ample water, sunshine, and temps above freezing, adds a hue of green to the otherwise boring and beige colors of the fall landscape. Most evenings a half-dozen deer browse on the new growth.

As I write, water cascades from the eves of the house, relaxing sound of raindrops patter on the roof, Sandy is napping on the couch, and the New England Patriots just put a hurting on the Miami Dolphins.

First night--peaceful night.