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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I love New England

some recent pix:

 Ash Point Preserve, looking north - Owls Head

Lake Megunticook, Lincolnville

 Newcastle Conservation Area, Newcastle

Megunticook River, Camden

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Harvey and Maria and Jose have been almost entirely beneficent here on the coast of Maine, providing endless highs of blue sky and green spirits*, August-like temperatures^, calm winds#, and perpetual surf+. Usually, such calm produces a flat and boring sea, but perhaps surf is nature's way of reminding us of power and destruction. You'd never know otherwise, and certainly not from the White House, that Americans elsewhere are suffering terrible privations.

Aren't we lucky that Jose and Maria did not produce a Baby Jesús up here, full of wrath? I'm counting my blessings with every wave that knocks on rocks.

* But ironically not enough rain.
^ 90 degrees in Caribou? Do you know how far north that is?
# Also irony abounding.
+ Just enough height, splash, and noise to be comforting day and night.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bugs and birds

Cocktail hour on the deck was 5:00-6:30 last night on a warm and muggy evening. I noticed seagulls, a lot of them, flying back and forth along the coast and soon saw that they were snapping bugs out of the air. Also a few on the water, pecking. Not sure what was hatching, nothing apparent on the land.

This reminded me, of course, of Flying Ant Day, a warm evening in August when ants come out of their nests in the ground and fly away, literally thousands of them. Terns appear (where have they been all summer?) and have a feast. Seagulls don't really bother.

The ants also emerge from our crawl space and find their way through cracks in the wood stove chimney. Only hundreds, probably, but it's an odd feeling to watch them crawl, plague-like, along the walls and the floor towards the floor-to-ceiling windows and apparent freedom. Some of them are inch-long. The vacuum cleaner is employed.

I'm not sure why the seagulls last night were bothering. It seems a lot of wasted flying energy for a very small protein reward. But seagulls are perhaps the most efficient and elegant flying machines (I've seen them hold firm in a 30-mph wind, barely moving their wings, and when they did move, they made good progress with minimal effort); perhaps the bugs were their cocktails and chips on a warm night.

For the first time this year we had several ant eruptions, not one big giant one. For the last one, I did not employ the vacuum, leaving the windows a-crawl. All ants were gone in the morning; they must have found cracks in the baseboards through which to reach their destiny.

It did get cool last night, finally, as the sun went down. Yes, it's September 24, not August 24. It's too warm. None of this should be true at this time of year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Vietnam in Owls Head

It was a shock the past couple of nights, seeing in episodes two and three of Ken Burns' "The Vietnam War", the face and voice of our neighbor down the shore, Bob Rheault. (I should say former neighbor, as he died four years ago.) We had met him a couple of times, but it was a bit awkward since we knew that he had been famous (or infamous) as head of Special Forces in Vietnam during the war.

Bob's humble words on screen were much more powerful than the mealy-mouthed non-statements, obfuscations, and even lies of the politicians and generals - Kennedy, McNamara, Johnson, Westmoreland - of the time. They were shocking in how terribly they brought back the events of more than 50 years ago. Then as now, public words seem to mean nothing. Private words, as captured by the journalists and the novelists and the film-makers, mean volumes.

I would have liked to have known Bob better. He was a man who perhaps came to the coast of Maine to clear away the awful memories of military service in Vietnam, and certainly a man who devoted himself in Maine to service of another kind: outdoors education at Outward Bound, and land conservation at Georges River Land Trust. Ridiculously, his obituary in The New York Times spends 99% of its words on his few months in Vietnam, i,e., almost nothing on his 44 years in Maine. Is war really so much more interesting than peace?