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.

October 30, 2016

MY UNCLE VERNON

... my dear uncle, vernon jackson, died last week ... his was a long and wonderful time, one in which he worked to make the world a better place for all of us, so the sorrow i feel is more than balanced by the great joy which forever will be mine for having had him in my life ...

... of all the photographs i have of my uncle vernon, this is my favorite ... next to the front porch he was watering francine's flowers ... i was trying to take his picture, not always an easy thing to do with jackson men (and, yes, as you've seen over the years my brother, michael, is most clearly one of 'em) ... [click] ... my uncle continued to spray the plants ... [click] ... he turned and looked at me ... even as i began to press the shutter button i noticed that from what normally was a very carefully controlled and contained countenance a rather odd smile was emerging ... [click] ... in the next second he pointed the water nozzle at me, calculated exactly where to aim so as to not wet my camera, and proceeded to seriously soak me from my chest to my feet ... 

... i was suprised ... i was stunned ... my uncle—he who had more than once shared high tea with her majesty, the queen of england, he who with great humility would inscribe after his signature the initials "o.b.e." ("order of the british empire," which unless you are a brit, you'll probably not know is a really, really, really big deal)—my uncle had squirted me with the water hose ...

... then, in seemingly a fit of absolute mirth, he burst into a most perfectly pure laughter ...

... for me, just for me ...

... and, even as still chuckling he turned to resume his duty to the garden, in that moment i knew—as i know the sun, as i know the wind, as i know the waves that forever delineate the shore which defines that little island in the sea—i knew that this was of the very finest moments in my life ...

... i will miss my uncle ... i will miss his dry wit, his tremendous intellect and intelligence, his compassion, his quiet strength, his great reserve ...

... but, for all my time to be, i know i will never have to miss his laughter ...

PARKING LOT WANDERABOUT

... a miserably cold and wet day, that special moment in new england when memory of summer's warmth and a still fading glow of autumn's recent fiery glory can no longer hold in abeyance the chill promise of winter, a time when even the hardy and hardened residents of the region disagree as to the merits of living in this climate of fickle extremes ... snow removal rules are in effect so my motorcycle's now parked over in roger's driveway, but that didn't inhibit me from grabbing my camera as i headed to my car, list of errands to complete in hand ... strolling across the lot my eyes were drawn to these two leaves about fifteen feet off the path to my chevy ...

... once i bent over, a new world began to emerge ... so fascinating, still, how that happens ... until today, even after several intensive courses in biology and botony, i've never fully understood how plants turn dirt and sunlight into sugar—until this afternoon, that is, when a moment with this leaf brought it all to perfect focus ...

... on the trunk lid of my car, as if to say, "sir, i worked so very, very hard to land in this precise spot—please, take a moment to appreciate my effort" ... i did ...

"Beneath color is substance."
L.ALLEN

... i was there, so i can see the chevrolet impala in this photograph ...

... it was dry this afternoon, breezy but the temperature was almost 50°f ... i went for a little wanderabout on my motorcycle ... i had other things on my mind, so i took no pictures ... i know you'll understand, which, if you think about it, is a pretty nice thing ...

October 26, 2016

WANDERABOUT X 2

... a few days ago john said, "let's go photograph the sunset" ... we wandered around up towards skowhegan until i said, "i best stop now because in a few minutes it'll be gone" ... along the glenview road we found an excellent vantage point to view the western mountains ... eleven miles away is the town of madison, you can see clearly  the paper mill's smokestack ... there's no exhaust showing because the mill is now closed—probably forever ... thirty-six miles from my camera is the the 4,249 foot summit of sugarloaf mountain ...

... both john and i enjoyed trying to coax this tree into dancing with the sun ...

... as the horizon bisected the sun the windmills aligned along the ridge of saddleback mountain came into sharp relief ... [yes, i admit i'm already expecting a geography correction from john] ...

... another morning john called me, "i've got to measure the distance to where i took the pictures with the 'big lens' so i can charge for mileage" ... in the brisk morning air we took a moment to enjoy the view from the parameter ridge ...

... after, "where does this road go," we wandered ... at one point we stopped to explore a blueberry field alongside the road ...
PHOTO COURTESY JOHN MEADER
... this vibrant red, contrasted by the green and blue, is quintessential maine ...

... in branch pond we met deborah dinsmore, the most charming proprietor of "branch pond flowers & gifts" ... this quaint little store has one way or another been in her family since 1822 ...

... as john explored i experienced a moment of reverent humor—hmmmm, or, perhaps, it was humorous reverence ... whatever, i just couldn't resist ...

... a place new to both of us, we paused along the marden hill road to enjoy a grand view across the central maine basin ... over ten miles away is the steeple of lorimer chapel at colby college ... the campus sprawls across the high ground to the west of waterville, which is hidden from sight in the valley of the great kennebec river ... my ancient canon 200mm lens was used for this shot, hand-held in gusting winds at a relatively low shutter speed, thus the soft and rather impressionistic nature of this image ... i like it ...

... what great fun ...

October 21, 2016

CHICKEN SITTIN' CHRONICLES

... chickens were happy, or so their little dance number seemed to indicate, so i decided to do some wanderingabouting in the autumn mist ...

... within a few minutes of leaving the house it was obvious that the mist was becoming rain, and i knew i'd have only a few minutes to find some nice leaves ...

 ... standing on the side of the road in new hampshire, i snapped a picture of some maine trees on the other side of the field ...

... finally, before heading up to conway to do some grocery shopping, i paused along the shore of crystal lake and found this beautiful vista of eaton, new hampshire, and "the little white church" ...

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like ag├Ęd warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek--
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again--but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!--What is the Spring to me?
EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

October 18, 2016

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

... he died in a "war" that wasn't ... his is the singular marker, but that he was the "only casualty" of the conflict is not true ... passing through the tiny towns along their route travelers might notice that local street signs label the tarmac "military road," but most who drive through the haynesville woods know nothing of the history behind the road's name ... even the manner of private smith's death is a tale of conflicting legends ... as to why in 1930 the daughters of the american revolution reverently marked this spot, that, too, is a mystery ...

... we do know that maine and canada peaceably settled their border dispute, which explains why northern maine's great arc of the "river junction," madawaska, is more french than english ... coins from distant lands placed carefully along the top of the tombstone, we know that people from around the world stop at this quiet center of the woods to pay their respects to private smith—as did roger and i, pausing a moment to make a little pilgrimage ...

... two who served, we thanked our comrade for his service ...

... as we continued on our way, the final movement of autumn's foliage was being played crescendo over the landscape by a coldly blazing sun, and brisk fall winds buffeted our motorcycles so that at times we had to tack our way south along the military road ... blue sky above, open highway ahead, i could only think of my good fortunate—

—my most wonderful good fortune ...

October 16, 2016

WANDERING "THE COUNTY"

... saturday morning roger and i left waterville at 10:15am, 45°f ... 263 miles later we arrived in fort kent just before 6:00pm, 45°f ... we'd driven route 11 the entire way, and, while the temperature only rose to 50°f for a short time in mid-afternoon, we thoroughly enjoyed our ride through the absolutely stunning display of autumn colour provided by the northern maine forest ... subway sandwiches and in for the night ... tomorrow we venture even further towards the north pole ...

... in fort kent across the street from our motel, the northern door inn (which i highly recommend), is the northern terminus of america's first highway, us route 1 ... years ago there was a simple sign here, now there's a most appealing monument ... having lived at the other end of the road in key west, florida, i thought we should stop to record our visit ...

... when it came time for roger to snap a picture of me, however, there was a bit of a problem ... "roger, just put the little green square over my head" ... "don't cut off my feet" ... "the little square, roger, right over my head" ... "arghhhhhhh" ...

... there was a young couple walking by ... i said to roger, "a stranger can take a better picture of me" ... the young man heard me ... "i'm no stranger" ...

... "yes, you are" ...

... "no, i'm not ... you're mister groleau" ...

... for a brief moment i thought to myself, "well, with canada just across the river only a few hundred yards away, there's a chance he thinks i'm one of my french-canadian relatives" ...

... "who are you," i asked ...

... "zach, mister groleau," he chuckled, "you were my teacher" ...

... off to the side roger was laughing so hard i thought he was going to p*ss himself ...

... "what year did you graduate," i asked ...

... "2012" ...

... it turned out that zach, and his girlfriend, jenna, were visiting fort kent to attend a friend's wedding ...

... and, it seems, zach knows how to take pictures—or, at least, he can keep track of the little green square ...

... we chatted for awhile, long enough for me to learn that zach has grown up to be a very nice young man ... as we drove away from the monument i thought to myself, "how wonderfully small the world can sometimes be" ...

... in madawaska we stopped to visit the "four corners" park ... i think that st. david, a few miles down the road, should get this honor, but it seems there's a certain amount of discrimination when it comes to "unorganized" towns ...

... in 2013 roger did the "four corners tour," driving to all four corners of the forty-eight contiguous states in only sixteen days ... he did it on his super-cruiser honda st1300, which was basically a street legal rocket ship ... 

... we explored an almost completely abandoned loring air force base ... in the spring of 1973 my sergeant said to me, "drive out to the flightline and pick up an empty weapons trailer" ... young, inexperienced, and, as i would later lament, rather untrained, i somehow managed to walk across a faint red line that was on the asphalt to the right of this "alert bird" hardstand ... on this very spot i ended up face down with the muzzle of a fully-automatic m-16 carbine stuck in my ear ... then it was handcuffs and a quick ride to the lock-up, said m-16 against my ear for the entire trip ... i was strip-searched and thrown in a cell, the guard remaining just outside the bars, m-16 never wavering from my direction ...

... it was, as we called it, a "helping hand," a procedural violation involving special weapons ... on the flightline i'd crossed into the footprint of a loaded b-52 ... i'll leave it to you to guess what was hanging inside its cavernous bomb bay ... locked in the cell i was completely unaware that the base telephone exchange had reported that the squadron phone number i'd given them was "non-existent" (that turned out to be one of those "loose wire" things) ...

... twenty-eight minutes from the time i kissed the pavement sergeant murphy came flying into the security force's parking lot on his b.s.a. motorcycle ... just in time, for at thirty minutes the entire united states air force would've been posturing to deal with a "covered wagon," which was not a good thing ... no, indeed, not a good thing ...

... now is just the wind ... and me, for some very strange reason, driving away feeling an empty melancholy i still cannot explain ...

... at my alma mater, the university of maine at presque isle, "umpee," we searched for the giant model of the sun ... near the computer lab i found a mirror hallway ...

... from the university science building, where an arch of the sun stands several stories tall, to the south along route 1 the planets are arranged scaled to both size and distance ... it's fascinating, how while from the earth we could almost see the campus it took almost a half-hour's drive to reach saturn ...

... supper at the irving station, now is to enjoy listening to the rain and hope that accurate is the forecast for clearing in the morning ...

... what a wonderful day ...

October 14, 2016

THE BIG LENS

... colby college rented a "big lens" and john checked it out to take some promotional pictures for the school ... this was my take on the scene ... i live just to the right of the chapel, which is almost ten miles from the ridge that was our vantage point ...

... here's john with the "big lens" ... with the canon's "L" label neatly engraved on the barrel, a hunk of glass like this can cost as much as a good used car ... john's expression, i think, reflects what he remarked every time he moved the lens, "i don't want to be the one to break it" ... "but," i responded, "it's insured" ...

... "don't care ... i don't want to be the one to break it" ... 

... sunlight bringing the trees to flame only made the chill air in the shade even more biting to our fingers and cheeks ...

... we wandered our way over to visit the quaker hill cemetery, where some of john's relatives are at rest ...

... the morning sun, frost in the hollows, leaves cracking under foot—for all that changes some things remain as they've always been ...

... as i said in the previous post, of late i'm in a portrait mood ...

... i snapped a picture of john strolling down his favorite road ...

... the sebasticook was low, to the point we could almost walk across without getting our feet wet ... soon will be snow and ice ...

... i don't know if with the "big lens" john got the picture he wanted, but for sure our little morning wanderabout was a great success ...

... of course, whether or not the pictures are any good, this is another of the many ways wanderabouts are never measured ...


FOUR

... of late more and more i've been focusing my lens upon people ... as much as i enjoy photographing trees and leaves and the occasional moose alongside the road, it is trying to convey the essence of an individual that i find most challenging ...

... as georgia o'keeffe, joanna, my "cayman cousin," looking to the sea from pemaquid point ...

"The simple fact of yourself ... there it is ... just you ... no excitement about it ... a very simple fact ... the only thing you have ... keep it as clear as you can."
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE

... robert steele, a fellow veteran and bookstore "regular" ...

... john meader, who both delights in exploring the universe, and, with his portable planetarium, bringing that delight to students all over the state ... 

... john wiley, a true renaissance man ...

... four people—each a place in the landscape of my life ...








October 9, 2016

ANNUAL PORTRAIT

... what has become a yearly ritual, c.j. snapped a nice picture of me and my new honda cb500x ... bike is finally fully configured, ready for some serious wanderabouting ... this evening, after danny's ninth-birthday celebration, i did about 100 miles in the dark ... the high-intensity l.e.d. driving lights make cruising at night a rather pleasurable experience ... with these lamps blazing i can see clearly both sides and the center of the road well beyond the bike's stopping distance ...

... halfway down the kimball pond road, just past the little sign that says "not maintained during winter" ...

... me and the honda're starting to become good pals ...

DANNY'S 9TH!

 ... what great joy, to share danny's ninth birthday celebration ... by themselves i'll let my photographs describe this wonderful time, except to list my subjects:  baby grant, walker, megan, emily, lauren, lauren's brother (i forgot his name), tom, and, last but hardly least, nine-year old danny ...

... so, with no further introduction required, "happy birthday, danny" ...


























... i couldn't hear what danny whispered, but thinking of liz and adrien while snapping these photographs i knew that my own wish has come true ...

... happy birthday, danny, and, happy birthday to us all ...