Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

February 27, 2016

FIRST LIGHT AT HOUSTON BROOK

... from my living room window i listened very carefully to the sunset's message ... it seemed to be saying, "take your friends on a little wanderabout ... take your friends on a little wanderabout" ...

... the ancient abanaki petroglyphs along its banks covered in ice, here the mighty kennebec river welcomes a new day ...

... i wonder if those who ice fish within this little shed are aware that in the chill water which fills the deep valley beneath them there are the house foundations of a once thriving community which long ago found itself sacrificed in the name of "progress" ...

... the short hike from pleasant ridge road down to the falls was quite icy ...

... we had to be very careful where we walked ...

... as always, however, the falls were worth the effort ... my first pictures were taken from the bluff along the side of the river, but i soon decided i wanted to get closer ...

... being very careful, each step as if a move in a chess game, i managed to negotiate my way down the steep rocky side of the gorge ... it became immediately apparent that there were a few places to step and many, many more places to not step ...

... casting aside any thoughts of being foolish, i worked my way along the icy ledge to capture the morning sun as it painted with fire the trees along the north bank of the river ...

... john had a zoom lens affixed to his canon, while i'd mounted my 12mm wide-angle to my fuji ... both of us knowing better than to change lenses on a digital camera in the freezing mist below the falls, he headed downstream while i took a little rest as i  surveyed the next section of my route to the base of the cataract ...

... the rocks and boulders were encapsulated in phantasmagoric layers of textured ice ...

... yes, i'm fully aware i look like some sort of beached irish walrus, but i'm not ashamed to admit that i've become rather fond of john's super-insulated l.l.bean maine guide jacket ... and, you're absolutely correct, it took quite some time for my butt to thaw ...
COURTESY JOHN MEADER
... tiny shafts of diffuse sunlight began to work their way through the forest above the river ...

... for a brief moment, fire and freeze coexisted ...

... a few minutes before i set up to take this picture i was looking downstream ... a great crashing sound echoed down the length of the ice encrusted gorge, and, for a brief second, all i could think of was that the last time we'd visited houston brook falls there had been a huge tree trunk caught at the edge of the escarpment ... i tensed, knowing i was close enough that i was sure to be engulfed in an icy tsunami ... luckily, it was most likely only a giant chunk of ice that had broken off, and the rock ledge must have channeled the splash away from where i was standing ... all in all, i think that made for an ever better picture ... 

... i got so close to the falls that i was looking almost directly up into the cascade ... it was then that i realized my fuji x-t1 was becoming encased in ice, and after his picture i gave up trying to scrape clear the filter protecting the lens ...

... our departure was a hike up into a beautiful morning, happy that we'd achieved our goal of "sunrise at houston brook falls" ...

... we stopped  to admire the ice along the side of route 16, just where the bridge spans the kennebec river in bingham ... 

... yes, you're right, i'm calling this one "hanging on" ...

... shark teeth ...

... "micky mouse" and "diamonds are not forever" ...
  

... we decided to head towards farmington so we could take john's son, forrest, to lunch ... on the way we visited the wire bridge in new portland ...

... end of february, the carrabassett river is open ... for a comparison go to last year's march 16th entry, a day where in this same setting i was able to walk anywhere i wanted ...

... early, for sure, but the sun's warmth is a sign of spring ... 

... in all the world, one of my favorite beaches, even if it isn't yet time to take a relaxing dip ... 

... pa taught me the phrase, "if i go over catch my camera when i toss it to you" ... of all that i've learned, one of the best lessons ...

... currently adorned with a fancy ice cap, in the summer this great glacial erratic is a place to recline in the sun ...

... last year i was able to stand and take pictures right where the little mill stream is flowing into the river ...

... john worked his way up the bank of the river, exhibiting great photographic courage as he worked facing into the rising sun ...

... the bone dry rocks are evidence of the odd weather we've had this winter ...

... i hope you've enjoyed this little wanderabout ... for your own simply enter "new portland, maine" into your g.p.s. ... 

February 23, 2016

SIGNING THE PAPERS

... while chad and em (and baby grant) were off signing papers for their new house the rest of the gang and i made a little holiday in waterville ... at first little walker didn't want to step onto the 2¢ bridge, but once we'd crossed he kept asking, "can we go again" ...

... while were strolling along the rail roadbed i told the kids, "fill up your pockets with stones" ... we stopped in the middle of the memorial bridge to see if anyone could hit the edge of the falls below ... now that i think about it, all probably violations of a couple of dozen state laws, railroad rules, and environmental protection agency regulations ... (sigh) ... nevertheless, great fun ...

... after a long stroll around town, pizza, and delicious italian desserts, walker and his batman bud crashed on my bed ... what can i say, i got an "a" in babysitting 101 ...

... dan didn't need a nap, but he relaxed by trying out every program and game on my ipad mini ...

... after rest time, our second outing took us down to the south end, where we explored the "kentucky fried chicken hill" ... the serpentine sidewalk was a hit ...

... winter ending, or, at least, in welcomed abeyance, tom had to make the most with a minimum amount of snow and ice ...

... shot with my "new" thirty-year old tamron 70-200mm zoom, a classic manual focus lens that isn't really suited for this sort of photography ... but, for $12 i think it did a pretty good job of recording emily doing her one-woman non-luge run ...

... our second park, megan had already suffered a cut finger and was still feeling the pain of hitting a rather solid bump on the hill, so she took a break with dan ...

... what a fun day ... not just because of the kids, but also in that i found i haven't lost the skill of sneaking 30-second naps while nobody's looking ...

TIDBITS

... adrien took me to a lunch and a movie in portland ... between the two we took a little stroll around the old port ...

... in dover-foxcroft, out for a walk while john presented galaxies in the library ...

... i counted the rings, there's a possibility, not one that can be stated with statistics or the mathematics of wagering, but, still, 101 years ago it could've been that on their immigration from quebec to rhode island in 1915 my uncle and my grandfather walked by this tree when it was still a tiny sapling ... that i stopped, counted the rings, and had that thought made me feel good ...

... sometimes i know it's the viewers of a picture must determine what i saw ...

... snow and cold still to come, i'm sure, but this is clearly an "in like a lion" sky ...

February 18, 2016

SURF'S UP

... we were supposed to head up into the mountains, but instead decided to wander down along the coast to see if the low pressure over the gulf of maine had produced surf action along the shore ... driving into the parking lot at pemaquid lighthouse we were immediately astonished to witness mountainous waves breaking over the shoals about a mile from the point ...

... rather intrepidly, john scrambled out to the very edge of the wave-free rocks so that he could shoot a little movie of the action ...

... meanwhile, in a less intimidating spot, a young mother was involved in the process of showing her little child how to be brave ... i was impressed she understood that many adults who display courage had lessons such as these when they were young ...

... while john remained mesmerized by the sight and sound of the surf, i slowly clambered my way across the wet rocks to the east of the light house ... instead of "waldo" this is a "where's john" image ...

... as always happens at pemaquid point, my sense of time began to slow ... tiny lichens, of the oldest and most successful of all the living things on this planet, happily welcomed me to their home ...

... cast by the waves to the front lawn of a rich-person summer home, she seemed taking a moment in the warmth of the sun to relax and admire her home from an unusual vantage ...

... not being a merman, i kept reminding myself of the danger posed in this rocky place that from moment to moment was neither sea nor shore ... "never turn your back on the sea," a mantra learned long ago, as well as remembering that on this day there were two completely different sets of waves, and that a lull in one didn't mean the other wasn't waiting to pounce upon me ... 

... the remains of an iron stanchion or post, the rocks will little notice its passing ...

... always, since the very first time as a small child when i studied the birds soaring along the reef off my gram's beach in grand cayman, i've wondered what a joy it would be to surf in the air above these great avalanches of foaming sea ...

... teasing the sea, frolicing with my toes dipped in salty froth ...

... i sat for a spell, enjoying the most special winter warmth that can be found only at pemaquid ...

... despite the dangers they mark, it is not seeing a lighthouse that worries mariners, thus the reason as to why these structures are found to be so comforting ... they reassure us, "search the dark for my beacon, listen beneath the shrouding fog for my song ... find me and you will no longer be lost, with me you will find your way" ...

... dark layers, each inch many hundreds of years of primeval sea bottom mud that was pushed miles and miles down into the mantle of the earth, heated under pressure until it was transformed to rock, then slowly brought back to the surface ... lighter layers, where under great pressure the metamorphosed sea bottom cracked, allowing a different kind of molten rock to spread between its layers and through tiny cracks and fissures ... here, from the lighthouse to my feet, a hundred million years of geologic history ...

... this particular rock, as a liquid it cooled very, very slowly, which means it took a long, long time to rise to the surface from where it was formed twenty—fifty miles deep below the earth's crust ... how, you ask, can this be known ... by the size of the crystal ... 

... again, in the span of my hand, many thousands of years of geologic history ... pemaquid is not a place for creationists or bishop usher's minions to loudly proclaim ... rather, here one should sit and ponder, "why should it be any less to marvel in the thought that there's a g*d who instead of in a few days took 8,000,000,000 years to perfect a creation" ... i have visited some of the world's greatest cathedrals and churches, at their best none is but an inspired attempt to mimic what pemaquid is ... 

... in the unseasonal warmth, flowing in february, nature's original super-glue ...

... now we have radar and g.p.s., but once there was a time when someone would be tasked with ringing this bell from dusk to dawn ...

... as we left the point, i couldn't help but watch for a moment more the great offshore breakers ... further out, on the horizon to the right of the picture, what appears as a tiny island, or perhaps an iceberg, is another set of waves ...

... inland a few miles, so calm, a different world ...

... watching, hearing, feeling the sea, i was famished ... the "A1" diner in gardiner, i can think of no more perfect place to complete a great wanderabout ...

... please, take a little wanderabout of your own to pemaquid ... for a long, long time, very patiently, it's been waiting for you ...