Thursday, June 24, 2010
We haven't been in Maine as much as usual this spring, so the door has remained closed and the birds emboldened. Mama built and brooded and fed in peace, and Daddy had to fly at no rivals, no human unknowns, and no shadows in the glass like hawks, or nets, searching for lunch. Robins seem to tolerate humans for the most part. They often build their nests very near to our houses. Certainly, they love the worms and bugs in our lawns and in our gardens, and gladden us with those lovely early morning songs, often the very first of the pre-dawn.
But yet I was a little scared sticking my face into the shrub. No matter how domesticated or anthropomorphized, animals still remind us of how much we are different and how much we are the same. The scientist and writer Loren Eiseley said, "One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human." In this tiny drama of two robins and a man, I met not only myself but worlds of wonder. For me, a bird in the bush is worth infinitely more than any number of birds in the hand.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Even a hummingbird must rest. I'm always amazed at the ceaseless energy of birds, constantly flying in and out of the frames we construct of the world. Speeding, darting, gliding, swooping - the words to describe their flights are endless. A bird's activities seem random and purposeful at the same time, especially the hummingbird who can fly at right angles, or backwards, or forever, or so it seems. The hummingbird, being a bit wild, doesn't sit on the Adirondack chairs like the robin does, a more domesticated bird who feel so comfortable there that he not only perches on, but poops down, the slats of the chairs. (Robins have also built a nest in the shrub right next to the back door, subject to constant alarms from openings and closings and shadows in the windows, but that's a story for another day.) The hummingbird rests on high, unconcerned with the planes flying into Knox County Regional.
What a contrast birds are with the brute force of the airplane! No song, just noise; no brain, just a computer; a hard metal skin replacing bright soft feathers; petroleum, not seeds, for food; engines, not wings, for power. A plane just drives stupidly straight ahead.
But when it comes right down to it, is the hummingbird any less brutal? Is his glorious flight anything more than the drive for food? A person of a reductionist or materialist persuasion would say yes, birds are little more than more-exquisite machines, following instinct, stimulated by chemicals.
This is something to fight against every day. Lest I forget, a bird in flight or at rest startles me into beauty, and beauty can't be explained or reduced, even the beauty to someone (else) of a Gulfstream in full throat.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Ogilvie set her exquisite "Tide" novels on Criehaven (disguised as Bennet's), just south of Matinicus. Eva, you must read them. They sound like your life, tough and tender, brutal and lyrical. I expect life's emotions and trials are pretty much the same everywhere, but what a compensation to live it in a beautiful place.
I'm anxiously waiting for July and the publication of Murray's book "Well Out to Sea."
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
- cell phone service. Not even my AT&T "World" Phone worked. The implications are clear.
- fast food, although Machias apparently has a McDonald's we didn't see.
- too much choice. For restaurants, we could choose from among (Princeton) one, (Lubec) two, and (Prospect Harbor) three, one of which was a bar.
- huge supermarkets. Most towns had only a small market, usually IGA.
- traffic. I can hardly remember any stop lights, let alone delays. On the Stud Mill Road, we passed a few pick-ups and a half-dozen logging trucks, in 50 miles.
- shoppes, olde or otherwise.
And what Down East has?
Saturday, June 5, 2010
In the afternoon we walked around the town of Corea and indeed tried to go to the cottage where Rich lived and wrote just outside of town on Cranberry Point. A chain across the lane said "Private." We didn't breach. Apparently, the owners guard the place carefully from Maine groupies like me, although they do rent it out to suitably respectful, well-vetted types, according to the owner of Corea's antique shop Old Good Goods. Pilgrimages these days take money, and special access. Worship is not free.
Corea is a lovely and quiet town. One of the many things that strikes me about Down East is its un-pretension. A tiny house like this often sits on a million-dollar view. The sea is a fact of life, not a movie set.
And any town that still has an active grange must be the real thing.
Then evening come on, and some clouds, and perhaps even a bit of rain to mark our last night Down East. When can we go back?
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
We walked around Machias a bit - clearly a cool town.
Much of the day was spent hiking first in the Nature Conservancy's preserve on Great Wass Island off Jonesport, and then in the Petit Manaan National Wildlife Refuge. So we got down two peninsulas - only a thousand to go.
But for drama and stark beauty, you can't beat the blueberry barrens of Washington County (and we didn't even drive away from the coast to see the really huge ones). To me blueberries are the perfect plant: delicious (we're talking about wild blueberries here, not those obese things from New Jersey or Chile), healthful (the most anti-oxidants of any food), very low maintenance (just burn off the fields every other year), and colorful (including the gorgeous red of the fall). It should be world berry, not just state berry.