Being a Maine naturalist is risky business.

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Another installment in my progress as a Maine Master Naturalist tier 1 student.   One thing we were not told when applying for the Maine Master Naturalist program were the risks involved. Yes, sun block and insect repellent were mentioned, but vicious flying toe biters and aggressive as-only-a-mother-can-be goshawks were not. Our first field trip […]

A naturalist and mother-of-the-bride collide

Herbarium binder

The intensity of the Maine Master Naturalist program allows for no interruptions and no absences. The application is quite clear: if you cannot attend all classes and workshops, do not apply. My best and wisest and most beautiful daughter was getting married, here in our backyard, about three weeks after the course began. I was […]

Ferns, feathers and the Maine Master Naturalist program

Natuturalist tools

Ferns, trees, wildflowers, dissecting kits, owl pellets, field guides–how could I not be in? The Maine Master Naturalist Program offers intense, wide-ranging study of, well, all things natural, and in Maine. I applied the day applications opened, and was fortunate enough to be one of nineteen adventurers accepted into the Mount Desert Island Program. Oh, […]

What do you do with a nine-month old zucchini?

Crazy nine month old zucchini

Compost comes to mind, but I cannot shake off my New England upbringing, which includes maxims like “Waste not, want not.” You might ask, why do we even have a nine-month old zucchini? Is it possible it should be listed in Guinness’ world records as oldest known zucchini? Perhaps we should coat it in resin, […]

Maine is melting

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What is winter, anyway? Winter in Jamaica is not winter in Maine, and winter in New Zealand is something else entirely. Even winter in Maine changes with every year. It can be cold. It is usually cold. There is snow, skating, ice fishing, and skiing. It can provide a recharge and refresh from soft, indolent […]

Maine’s winter woods—it’s a different world without snow

Pitcher plant in winter

With little or no snow covering the ground, the woods this winter felt like a foreign land. The underbrush was completely exposed, and fallen logs, normally deep beneath a covering of white, were there for any passerby to see–and trip over. Frost-rimed holes edged in green moss revealed the winter home of a red squirrel, […]

Feeling Sappy

Our backyard sap boiler

Sitting by the fire, sap simmering in a stainless steel pan, sparks fly bright and hot, drifting high into the black sky before fading. I am alone, but connected to the perhaps thousands of fellow Mainers tending their syrup with me tonight. Freeze, thaw, hot, cold, this is the season of contrast. Cold nights and […]

When is the ice safe? Ice-walking in Acadia

Last light on the Bubbles.

  “When is the ice safe?” I am asked. There are plenty of answers to this, but the only right one is: “It depends.” Safe for a skater does not mean safe for a snowmobile. There is a generous amount of info out there on judging ice safety by its color, whether it is early […]

Good-bye, Egg Rock Light horn, I will miss you

Egg Rock seen through the fog.

Wild winds and rough water are deafening, but through it I hear the steady, reassuring drone of the horn at Egg Rock Lighthouse. I listen to it a few minutes longer than I would have in the past, because soon it will no longer be calling out in fog and storm. The Egg Rock horn […]

Walnut shells, spiders, and how to cure a fever

A hand-made card from an artist friend illustrates a folk cure for ague.

We were in the land of voodoo when fever struck, but were not tempted to hunt down a magic potion or healing charm. Back in proper old New England, however, we discovered a cure even stranger than anything any voodoo queen could have offered. While visiting New Orleans my husband came down with fever, chills, […]