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 seventh 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.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

November 29, 2013

AUTUMN HOLDS ON

... my apartment door is hidden out of view just to the left of the aluminum bordered black marque sign in the upper center of the photograph ... from where i stood to snap this picture, behind me the sidewalk is as clear of leaves as it is further down the length of main street ... for some areodynamic reason the leaves all congregate in front of my door ... after i took this i ran back and forth through the leaves a dozen times or so, scattering them until they were piled up agains the building and all over the road ... the next day the leaves had all gotten together and rearranged themselves back into a pile identical to the one shown here ...

...  it seems to me that the city workers always wait a few days before they come by during the dark of night and suck up the pile of leaves with their humongous drivable vacuum cleaner ... proof, i think, that there is poetry in their souls, too ...

... if you give it a chance, autumn will hold on a bit longer just for you ... 



November 22, 2013

A BIG HONKIN' WATCH

... [this is where i remind you, everything has a story] ... 


... many years ago, while i was visiting with my family in the west indies, my little sister, sue, took me for a tour of the "duty free" shops in georgetown ... it was fun looking at the wicked expensive trinkets, but i didn't buy anything because i know "duty free" simply means "if you knew how to shop you could get it for less back home" ... sue noticed me examining the fancy dive watches ... [confession:  among my weaknesses is a fascination of stainless steel thermos bottles, high-intensity flashlights, and, of course, the aforementioned waterproof timepieces] ... i remember her saying, "pat, i know the owner, so i can get it for a lot less," to which i replied something like, "nah ... it won't tell time any better'n my inexpensive casio, and that's good for as deep as i'm ever going to submerge myself ...

... when i was getting ready to enter the boarding area at the airport she reached into her bag and handed me the watch ... something i absolutely didn't need, it was of the greatest surprises and best of presents that i have ever received ...

... every three or four years i've had to have the battery replaced ... the last time i said to myself, "this is ridiculous ... while it's true that this watch records the last ten dives i've made, keeps track of the temperature, warns me how fast i'm ascending, and is so unbelievably rugged if i'm gobbled up by a shark when it eventually poops out the watch it's sure damn thing will still be accurately ticking away, it's also a fact that $36 to have a new battery installed is pure foolishness" ...

... so, for the past couple of years the watch has been sitting in my tupperware "special treasures" bin ... (another confession:  i've torn movie ticket stubs from when i was fifteen years old ... i suppose it's good thing you can't keep a broken teenage heart in a plastic container) ... last week i said to myself, "i miss my sister"  ... so i took the watch out, made a little tool out of some scrap plastic, opened the back and removed the battery ... three days later, courtesy of amazon.com, the watch was back in service ... the bezel had gotten all scratched from banging against the sand and coral rocks, so i pried it off and gave it a coat of black lacquer ...

... yes, i'm fully aware it's just a silly wrist ornament ... but, since wearing it encourages me to think of my dear sister, i'd say that makes it a rather magical watch, too ...


November 21, 2013

THE RESCUE - PART 2

... robert said, i think i've lost my cell phone ... we tried ringing it up in the store with no luck ... i said, "m'be it's out where we were pushing the motorcycle, how about if i go look for it" ... with that i headed out to do my laundry and buy groceries, but first i drove up to the quarry road for another strenuous twenty-mile hike into the wilderness ...

... it was a beautiful afternoon ... even with the puddles and edges of the streams frozen over, still i wished my motorcycle wasn't put away for the season ...


... when i was a kid and i'd find a rock all alone like this i would very carefully move it to where it had the company of others of its kind ... and, yes, i also made sure my shoes were properly side-to-side facing in the same direction ... i know, the psychologists have a rather nasty name for this, but i like to think it just means i'm a really considerate guy ...


... new englanders used to describe their property lines using phrases such as, "more or less in a northerly direction to the big oak tree," or, "from the back edge of farmer smith's property to the large rock south of the stream" ... then they discovered metal rods ... oh, how new englanders love to drive these iron bars into the ground ... done according tradition, this one probably goes down at least six to eight feet, "just to make sure nobody moves it" ...

... 15,000 years ago the glacier ripped the entire side off this ridge of bedrock ... then, when that mile-thick pile of ice melted, the run-off further scoured the landscape along the messalonskee stream ... odd, how while most're put at ease thinking these iron stakes are going to keep their property permanently marked, i'm somehow reassured that in several thousand years, when the earth's precession and eccentric cycles harmonize, the glaciers're going to once again scrape the landscape clean so that everything can start anew again ...


 ... {yes, i actually think these things while i'm walking} ...

... i remember when dr. abel and his crew found preserved in volcanic ash the 3.6 million year-old footprints of some of our ancestral hominids ... the path of two of them, walking side-by-side, was intersected by the prints of another ... dr. abel said, "they might have been months, even years apart ... we know they didn't see one another, for if that had happened surely the prints would reflect it ... but, it just could be that they missed one another by only a few hours" ...

... if, perchance, sometime before it rains again a great volcano should erupt and cover maine with settled ash, would it then be that millions of years from now a new species, or, perhaps, aliens from another world, will gaze upon these tracks and wonder, "who were they ... two of them, obviously, shared the path ... but, what of the other ... did he turn to find them, or ... or, did he change direction leaving them behind" ...


 ... {yes, i actually think lots of strange things while i'm walking} ...

... this is milkweed, i think ... even when i was little, i wondered, "milkweed, dandelions, crab grass, black-eyed susan, pigweed ... they're all so cool, why're they hated so" ... how odd, the ones so good at taking care of themselves, they get this label ...


 ... {yes, even when i was little, i would think strange things as i walked} ...

... these are altocumulus clouds (i think) ... my friend, chuck, who, as far as i'm concerned, is perhaps the greatest science teacher in the world, knows all the names of all the clouds ... none of his names match mine ... to me, these are washerboard clouds ...



... i like my names for clouds ...

 ... {sigh ... looking up, looking down, thinking, yes, you're right, i often bump into things, but that just gives me more to think about} ...

... i saw this couple walking ... they were wearing their special orange hats so that they won't get shot by a hunter ... foolishness, that's my opinion ... "good" hunters would never shoot them, even if they weren't wearing the hats ... "bad" hunters will shoot them even with the hats, because, after all, when it comes to not getting shot by a hunter, they are doing two things wrong:  a) they're in the woods, and, b) they're moving ... me, personally, if i'm going to wear orange it'll be a florescent flak vest ...




 ... {i've been shot at, so during hunting season i think these things while i'm walking} ...

... some ancient philosopher, i can't recall his name, he said, "you can't ever get to where you're going" ... his theory, "at some point you'll be halfway to your goal ... then you'll be half of that ... and, in time, half of that ... and so-on and so-on such that you'll never actually arrive" ... i've always liked that ... autumn in new england, quite obviously the winter can never get here ...



 ... {next spring, when i'm out walking in the late snow, i'll still be saying this} ...

... just as i was getting back to the trailhead (i never found the phone, because, it turns out, it was at robert's house) i noticed there were cars going down the road ... seems what i hadn't noticed when i arrived was that the gate was open ... there's a special word the backwoods people use for this, "duh" ...


... {i won't tell you what i was thinking, other'n the sky was very pretty} ...

... at the trailhead i found workers reinstalling the gate posts ... seems they'd been put in three feet, the "proper" depth, which everyone who knows anything about frost will tell you is a foot too shallow ... i said, "why is it we have ipads, cell phones, space stations, and instant oatmeal, but you worker people are still digging  post holes the same way they did in the way-long-ago ancient roman times" ... response was, "they sent a three-foot auger, this is quicker'n waiting for a longer one" ... this guy wants to go to alaska someday, but right now he's raising two kids ... i said, "soon as you can, do it" ...


 ... i had a nice little walk ... i didn't find the phone, but i thought a lot of neat thoughts ...

THE RESCUE - PART 1

... with wonder hillary managing the bookstore, saving the world from malignant mounds of toxic waste, and waging the good fight against the oppressively paternalistic fascism of federal usurpation ...


... robert and i were down in augusta, exploring central maine's lunch offerings, when roger called, "can you do me a big favor" ...

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend
You've got a friend
Ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know, ain't it good to know
You've got a friend.
CAROL KING

... okay, so that wasn't actually playing on the radio ... no matter, children of the sixties, both robert and i know that there're times you have to hear that tune, so we scurried back to waterville, stopping for subway sandwiches before we headed out to the quarry road to rescue roger ...

... after what i figure was at least a twenty-mile hike into the maine wilderness, roger brought us to the spot on the road where clearly the maine department of transportation had not done its job ...


... robert took one look, then, being as he's both a man of faith and a notary public, he offered some sort of last rites for the poor machine ...


... what roger was saying translated out to be, "you're each going to stand behind me pushing on the luggage rails so that when i give 'er full throttle the motorcycle'll go up the hill and the two of you will fall on your faces in the mud like this was an abbot and costello movie" ...


... "yea, as if," we chorused, but, per carol's advice, we didn't have much choice ... grunting and groaning and saying to ourselves, "why can't he just get an x-box and stay home," we extricated the honda from the bog ...


... roger offered each of us a ride back to the trailhead, but we both figured the walk would do us good, and, in any case, the back perch on his motorcycle didn't look all that comfortable ...


 ... at the trailhead we found that the new quarry road recreational area, even unfinished as it is right now, is a most fascinating place ...


Keep smiling and keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for.
BACHARACH & SAGER

... the thing that's really cool, at least, as far as i'm concerned, is that while it is so incredibly wonderful that i have friends i know would come to pull me out of the mud, even more important is that i've those who think to call me ...


November 17, 2013

BON VOYAGE, AMANDA

... ann and amanda invited me to go with them to drop amanda off a her ship, which was berthed in portland ... it ended up that chuck could join us, so we all got to share the trip ...

... while she was loading her gear in the back of the truck i took a little wanderabout along the edge of the lake ...
... we've already had spitting snow, and in the early morning there've been places where the road was a bit slick, but here along the shore of east pond the autumn is still holding on ...
... this little guy always warmly greets me each time i arrive at what is clearly my "second home" on east pond ...
... bella, carefully adorned with her don't-shoot-me-you-idiot-i'm-a-dog-not-a-deer neckerchief, always acts as if it's been a hundred years since we've seen one another ...
... at the dock in portland amanda proudly introduced us to the vessel which is both her work place and, for want of a better word, "apartment" ...
... we went aboard so she could show us around ... since she is part of a team that catches fish and studies them to find out how much we humans are messing up their lives, the ship has great nets with which it can trawl the vast seas above the continental shelf ...
... unknown to us, while we were below decks a great storm arose and the ship broke free from its moorings and was blown far, far out into ocean ... !!! ...
... despite the crew's herculean efforts, it soon became apparent that we were doomed, that for us, like the tragic edmund fitzgerald, all that was to remain would be a catchy tune on the radio ... then, even as we huddled on the well deck getting ready to stuff our pathetic farewell notes into a bottle, upon the flying bridge above us a hero appeared ...

 ... "avast, ye maties," he snarled, "snitzen that witzenjammer ... furl that what'chmacallet ... grrrrrrrrrr ... we're not sunk until i say we're sunk, and i say that i see the way back to port" ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," we all cheered, for the steely look in his eyes and the way he scoffed at the storm removed any doubt that we'd be sleeping on land that night ... he took the wheel and steered the mighty craft through the mountainous waves back to the safety of the harbor, all the while his faithful sidekick watching out the window to make sure he didn't run into an iceberg (i mean, after all, we already saw that movie and didn't want any part of that kind of trouble) ...
"hurrah-hurrah-hurrah, again," we all cheered, as the great captain returned all of us to portland harbor's tranquil waters ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," his wife and daughter exclaimed, "ours is the greatest most wonderful captain in the whole world" ...
... "hurrah-hurrah-hurrah," yelled amanda and katie (and nikki, too, who is in the picture but doesn't show because of her ninjalike stealthiness), "if it weren't for the great captain we would've been lost" ...
... then, courtesy of the captain and his first mate, we did what all seafarers do upon first setting ashore after surviving a storm ... we scoffed down several huge flatbreads and celebrated our great fortune ...
... the end ...

... (except, that is, to add a "thank you" to commander richard behn of the n.o.a.a. corps for the picture of the ship's bow in the storm) ...

November 14, 2013

ABOUT TO TAKE A SHORT BREAK FROM MOTORCYCLING

... robert snapped a few shots of me heading out to take my bike down to its winter home in mt. vernon  ...

... i really like this picture ... it almost makes me and my bmw seem wicked nasty bad ... yea, "almost," i said, since with me wearing all my cold weather gear mostly it looks like the goodyear blimp has taken up two-wheelin' ... (and, how much would you bet that seeing this shot both my daughters're commenting, "yea, check out the nose, no doubt about it, that's our dad") ...

... here's a more conventional image ... on each side of the back seat you can see peeking up the aluminum brackets that will soon hold my custom designed luggage rack (why buy when you can make, right) ...

... it's about twenty-three miles from the front of the bookstore to the rogers' house in mt. vernon ... today, in 43-46°f air, it was over 100 miles of scooting around central maine back roads before i arrived ... saturday i'll clean off the road grime, check the fluids, put some stabilizer in the gas, hook up the trickle charger, and, most important, cross my fingers that early march will have mid-40°f days and roads free of ice and snow ... 


November 6, 2013

STILL GOING

... eric drove up this afternoon and we went over to oakland for a nice lunch, then enjoyed a pleasant drive back to augusta ... he headed home to serve taxi service for his daughter, while i headed west for a little wanderabout towards bryant pond and then back towards mount vernon, where i stopped long enough for c.j. to offer me a cup of coffee and some pleasant conversation ... when i left he snapped a shot of me in my what-are-you-doing-riding-a-motorcycle-this-time-of-year duds ... no, i'm not porking out in my old age, but, yes, i must admit that i look a bit like the michelin man ...

... lunch with a pal, a nice ride on a brisk late autumn afternoon,  a cup of hot coffee and the respite of a few moments with a great friend ... what a wonderful day ...







HOLDING ON THE AUTUMN

... frost on my car in the morning, western mountains topped with snow, still, i'm not ready to let go of the autumn ... i went for a little stroll around town, as i headed out instead of taking one of my big bad nikons i grabbed my little olympus ... in the place of its normal lens, attached was a cleverly machined adaptor mailed to me all the way from china ... it allowed me to use a thirty-five year old olympus zuiko macro lens with the modern digital camera body ...


... while the camera has a built-in manual lens focus assist mode, it was much easier to use the classic "move the camera back and forth until the image is sharp" approach ... other than that, the operation of the camera/lens combination was normal ...

... under heavy snow it would sometimes droop across the driveway, and for many years i've wondered when someone would trim the branch of this tree on boutelle street ...

... across the street from the "molly brown" i looked down to discover a random composition of algebraic, chaotic, and fractal geometry ...

 ... along silver street autumn resisted ...

... but a brisk late afternoon breeze promised the soon, very soon, winter would do more than merely hint ...

... in one of the concourse plazas, beneath the empty limbs of a tree the earth accepted the return of what it had given ...

... on my belly, sprawled out as i so loved to do when i was a child, in a single leaf i rediscovered autumn's splendor ...


November 3, 2013

ABOUT TOWN STROLL



... authoritarian fascists who run things changed our clocks last night, i'm sure their reasoning being, "this'll show 'em who's boss" ... [yawn] ... now the late afternoon is arriving way too early, and, all of you knowing what a night-owl and late-riser i can be, you'll understand when i lament that i get nothing out of the deal ... for my friends and family living down near the equator, this time of year this is maine's mid-afternoon lighting ...

BACK OF FREEDOM AND KNOX

... neither promise nor reminder, simply the memory of a pleasantly spent winter afternoon ...

QUAYSIDE

... made someplace along the coast, perhaps vinalhaven, with a now ancient history olympus c-2020, i like this image if for no other reason than it allows me to use the word "quayside" ...




A DRIVE WITH MA - REPRISE

... from various places scattered around rhode island i've folders full of images i found while enjoying wandering drives with ma ... it makes me happy to revisit both these pictures and the many pleasant afternoons we shared ...