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 sixth 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.

January 30, 2015

SNOWSTORM PHOTOSHOPPING

... friday night snowstorm topping off the almost two feet the mid-week blizzard left us ... i don't feel like watching a movie, and i've turned enough pages today that my eyes need a rest from reading, so i decided to dig through some of my recently taken image files and play around a bit ...

... in a little town we passed through on the way to stonington, my eyes were captured by the colorful flowers in the window ...

... a memorial by those who have returned with their catch, dedicated to the lobsterfishers who have gone down to the sea forever ... almost impossible lighting, so i put on my forty-plus year-old black & white cap ...

... a snapshot of a rapidly descending williwaw, only in this moment did i discover the element of humanity hidden in my landscape's frame ...

... another shot of the house overlooking pumpkin island ...

... across the street from where i park my car ... sometimes i see things and i ask myself questions ... often there are answers, but, in cases like this, i'm not even sure what the question means ...

... robert, trying to figure out his new cell phone ... my vision was drawn to his hands, and, once again, i donned that black & white hat ...

... still snowing ...


January 28, 2015

POLYCHROMATIC FASCINATION

... this evening i sat in my bay window to witness the end of day ...

... patterns gloriously strange appeared ...

... nature, using its words to speak to me ...

... me, for you and i, listening, hearing ...

... falling into time's never-ending chorus  ...

... a day spent outside in a frozen landscape, my body chilled, but, as if knowledge of my need existed, the warmth of my soul again restored ...

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon
and then dripped over and was gone,
and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone,
and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going.
And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon,
and darkness crept over the land from the east.” 
JOHN STEINBECK


POST BLIZZARD

... the blizzard finally began to dissipate during the middle of the night ... watching from my window, i observed the shop air conditioning unit had become a tiny bit surrealistic—or just plain weird—take your pick ...

... school was called, most likely because the crews were to spend much of the morning clearing all the parking lots, side roads and city streets, so john had the day off ... after a nice breakfast (translated: infinite coffee refills) we headed north to check on his camp ... along the way we stopped to examine one of hinkley school's many abandoned buildings, and, i suppose, admire nature's patience ...

... it was nice to be able to remove my watch cap ...
BY JOHN MEADER

... behind these doors, so many stories ...

... i think camp road signs are an art form all their own ...

... although the road had been plowed by one of the year-round residents, it was so icy beneath the thin layer of snow that john decided to not risk the hill in his honda mini-van ... truthfully, with the steepness of the slope and the fact that it's canted sideways, i'd not attempt this unless i had four-wheel drive with either studs or chains ... at times we had to walk in the deep snow to find firm footing ...

... after-the-storm quiet ...

... hanging above us, a "widow-maker" ...

... john's family camp on oaks pond ...

"The land looks like a fairytale."
ROALD AMUNDSEN

... blizzard's reward, an intense blue sky  ...

... ascending the icy road, i paused and listened to a whisper of autumn past ...

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.
ROBERT FROST
BY JOHN MEADER

... along the river road we stopped by the side one of the flood family's farm fields ...

... perched atop the plowed snow ridge at the side of the road, i decided i'd get a better perspective if i moved a bit closer to the little tuft of grass in the foreground ... of course, i'd forgotten that there is a ditch along the highway and that after a blizzard it would be filled with finely powered snow ... one step and i was up to my armpits ... having to hold a very expensive camera/lens above my head, it was a bit of a struggle to get back to the road ...

... john was laughing ...

... and, of course, i laughed, too ... i mean, what's life if you can't get stuck in a snow-filled ditch every once in awhile ...


January 27, 2015

BLIZZARD WANDERABOUT

"Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all."
ERNEST SHACKLETON

... i remember in the fifth-grade when my teacher announced, "i'm going to give you a catalog to show your parents, from it you'll be able to order books to read" ... even now, that remains one of my life's most exciting events ... at home i perused the little pamphlet over and over, until, given the budget my parents had so generously allowed me, from seemingly several hundred faint pencil check marks i finally managed to mark in ink my final choice, "shackleton's valiant voyage," a scholastic books abridged version of alfred lansing's famous account of this epic tale of survival ... at the time living in alaska, it was a long wait before the day the teacher placed a huge cardboard box on her desk and said, "as i call your name come up to get your order" ...

... i started reading the book on the walk home from school, i finished it sometime during the middle of the night ...

... the next day i got in trouble for reading it during the math lesson ... "i don't need the math lesson, i already know how to do this stuff," i explained to my teacher ... for that i got sent to the cloak room ... she neglected to take the book from me ... "stupid teacher," i thought ...

... now, of course, i know ... smart teacher ...

... ernest shackleton taught me several things, the most important being, "never give in" ...

... today, in the midst of a true blizzard, i decided to go for a little wanderabout ... why, you ask ... george mallory said, "to struggle and to understand—never the last without the first—that is the law" ... perhaps it was that, if only a tiny bit, but, mostly, it was just to remind myself that truly i am a very lucky man ...

... this is a maine optimist ... once he clears off his car his plan is to "four-wheel drive" it through the drifts until he reaches front street ... i wished him luck ...

... perched above the kennebec river, i found my car safe and sound ... several things are going to happen between now and the end of this storm ... first, sometime this afternoon or evening they will plow the lot on this side of the car, creating a huge ridge of snow upwind of the vehicle ... when the gale abates from its current 25-40 miles per hour to a gentle breeze, the ridge will serve as a fence, causing the light snow to completely fill in the space between it and the car ... thus, tomorrow is to be a shoveling day ... i could leave it, but, a lesson painfully learned, i know that if i do and it warms a bit the snow will turn to ice and my car'll be imprisoned for an unacceptable amount of time ...

... making up a bit for a history of poor service, the indian restaurant remains open during the storm ...

... i encountered these two in the middle of main street ... one of them was especially concerned that my "jacket was warm enough" ... i assured him it was, noting that hidden from his eyes my super-deluxe-high-tech long johns were doing most of the work keeping me comfortable ... my apartment is above the middle streetlamp ...

... as i watched, they disappeared not in the distance, but right in front of me ... absolutely dead on prediction, this is, indeed, a blizzard ... 

... if the truth doesn't quite set you free, for sure these guys will ... kudos to the plow crews ...

... a window display in the old stern's building is quite appropriate ...

... i watched her walk down the street, struggle through a waste deep drift, and push the door buzzer for one of the many second-floor rooms which, for want of a more precise term, are of a "low income" nature ... after awhile she turned and headed back ... it seemed to me that on her return her shoulders were slumped ... a sad story, disappointment, or, perhaps just exhaustion ... i do not know ...

... front-end bucket loaders are in and of themselves most amazing ... observing this model with an attached plow blade i wish i owned one for my own amusement ...

... if i'd a set of snowmobile or ski goggles, this would've been a perfect outfit ... as it was, however, i gave up my little wanderabout when i started to worry that the wind driven ice was going to leave permanent pits in my eyeballs ...


"We had seen God in His splendors, heard the text that Nature renders.
We had reached the naked soul of man."
ERNEST SHACKLETON


January 26, 2015

THE CALM BEFORE

... part of my preparations for the coming snowstorm, i had make sure my car was properly positioned in the parking lot (six feet behind the rear bumper, so that after the plows leave a ridge of snow and ice in front of the car i'll have the space to back up and then gain enough momentum to break out) ... coupled with 12-24" of light fluffy snow and the predicted high winds producing blizzard-like conditions, this could be a weather event that results in power outages, so another task was to retrieve my portable propane camp stove from its storage spot in the car's trunk ... i decided to enhance my chores with a stroll around town ... crossed the 2¢ bridge to winslow, wandered the railroad tracks, then via the memorial bridge i made my way to the car ...

... twenty-five minutes ago ... from my apartment living room's western view, this is a sky i've learned means things're likely to get rather nasty ... as i write this the blue is gone and the southern sky (left side of the picture) is an ominous featureless dark gray ...

... to all involved, stay home, stay warm ... if you do have to go out, remember, in this country we allow crazy people to drive ...

January 23, 2015

SOLSTICE PAST

... two nights ago, 5:35pm ...

... tonight, 5:41pm ...

... three weeks past the solstice, living almost upon the 45th parallel, it is essential to make note of these things ...

... over in roger's garage, my motorcycle, waiting for me ...

... soon ... that's my thought ... soon ...

R.I.P. SNOWBALL

... okay, so i don't know if his name was "snowball" ... of my sister, susie, i'm sure, and, of course, as he was equally our sibling, alvin-the-wonder-dog is never to be forgotten, but of the rabbit i'll have to go with snowball until my dear sister corrects me ...

... now, being that a few years ago i confessed to her, i can tell the story of snowball's tragic demise ... with the rabbit tucked away in the elaborate chicken-wire home pa had cleverly constructed for him, we went to bed secure in the knowledge snowball was safe from all of alaska's nasty woodland predators ... little did we know that during the night the temperature was to drop even further than -40°f ... checking in on the rabbit as part of our morning chores, michael and i discovered that during then night he had died ... whether the animal expired from the cold, or first died from some other cause and then froze, either way he was frozen solid into a chunk of furry ice ... i was aghast, and, while i cannot remember the exact words, i said something to the effect, "mike ... susie's heart will be broken ... how do we tell her" ... my brother screwed up his face even more than his normal visage, a sign i recognized as an indication he was using all of his brain cells at once ... "quick ... go over to the firepit and get me a skinny piece of wood" ... returning with a length of kindling, i handed it to him ... he then proceeded to use the wood as a lever with which to rip an opening in the chicken-wire side of the cage ... "there, now hide this piece of wood under the pile" ... when i got back he had snowball in hand ... i noticed that he'd closed and latched the cage door ... "okay, after we get rid of him our story is that during the night he must've decided he wanted to join his relatives in the woods, got it" ... he made me repeat the story several times, then we went inside to bring the news of snowball's escape to my sister ...

... later, outside, huddled around the cage, i remember when the thought came to her, "but ... but, what if some animal broke in and took snowball" ... mike's response was slow, measured, as if a thought that had just come to him, "oh, no ... i don't think so ... see how the wire is bent outwards ... there's no way that could happen unless snowball did it himself" ...

... susie was sad, of course, but not heartbroken ...

... and, reading this even after all these years, she will most likely again be saddened ... that's susie, my little sister ...

... finally, sworn forever to secrecy, never can i say what happened to the corpse ...

REDIT DIES

... i went for a little drive, suffering using my car instead of my motorcycle, but reminding myself how lucky i am to have one of each ... i made a visit with c.j. ... he'd taken a picture out the window of his work area, "have you ever seen anything like that ... i've never seen a blue cloud like that before" ... i was so happy, that he'd seen, thought to record, and considered it important to share ... soon, i hope, he'll be a part of our random wanderabouting ... a long, long time ago, seemingly another universe sometimes easier to believe a product of our imaginations rather than accept as a reality integral to all we've become, c.j. and i were trusted to work on most seriously secret "special things" (link for those who haven't yet made a visit) ... here's c.j. leaving the underground lair where for a time he suffered a rather troglodyte existence ...

... after leaving mount vernon i wandered down towards augusta, stopping at the taylor pond outlet to enjoy the evening light ...

... at my feet, the mighty glaciated himalayas as from an orbiting space station ...

... i wonder, does the northernmost point of antarctica look like this ...

... hard to believe, but only a few days of below freezing temperature and this bubbling foam will be as solid as the overhanging ice ledge ...

... reflecting the sunlight, perhaps the most serendipitous of molecular chemistry's truths, that water is most dense at 39.2°f, while, unlike most molecules, it becomes 2/100ths less dense when it freezes ... if you think that to be an insignificant amount, remind yourself were it not the case most likely there would be no life on this planet ...

... but, of course, the water molecule does behave so, and, it seems, there are always some willing to quite joyously celebrate the fact ...

Beauty, like ice, our footing does betray;
Who can tread sure on the smooth, slippery way:
Pleased with the surface, we glide swiftly on,
And see the dangers that we cannot shun.
JOHN DRYDEN

January 17, 2015

NO COFFIN VARNISH FOR ME

... when i'm visiting in rhode island mike and beth like to take me for lunch at the charlestown rathskeller ...  during prohibition it was a speakeasy, hence the use of one of the many secret code phrases necessary when seeking a drink of demon rum ... the murals on the walls are the original paintings ...

... of course, the food is great and mike and beth are always wonderful company, but there is also a fabulous sense of history when visiting this little diner tucked away in a remote corner of the great swamp ...

January 16, 2015

STROLLING STONINGTON

... john invited me to join him for a little picture taking wanderabout ... as i settled in to his car he asked, "do you have anyplace particular in mind" ... "nope, you've got the wheel, you do the navigating" ... "okay, well, how about we head over to stonington" ... on the ride over we made a few stops to explore with our cameras ...

... after crossing onto the island we decided to leave the main road to see if we could find the secret vantage from which chad takes his wonderful pictures of the pumpkin island light ...

... i'm not sure we found the spot, but the little cove we discovered offered a beautiful view of the lighthouse ... john informed me that it was taken out of service years ago, and is now a private residence ...

... while i wasn't looking, it seems, john made sure to carry out his shared-photo-outing duties ...
BY JOHN MEADER

... my idea was that we should find a pulloff in which to park the car, but john laughed, "i don't think any of these people are going to be coming up their driveways this time of year" ... we found a classic summer home overlooking pumpkin island ... i'm sure its "summer people" owners appreciate it greatly, but if it was mine i'd live in it year around ...

... in stonington we wandered the docks and piers, snapping pictures while we basked in the relatively calm wind, bright sun, and mid-20°f temperature ...

... composing to capture the drops falling from the icicle, i'd a momentary thought that even as i watched they were gradually slowing in the journey down the frozen stalactite* ... in hindsight, it was some sort of omen ...

... we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the harbor cafe (perfect haddock, coconut cream pie second only to that served up at thompson's in bingham) ... leaving the restaurant we found that the temperature was dropping fast and, judging by a loudly snapping flag, the wind was suddenly gusting over thirty miles per hour ... sky directly above us still hinting blue, for about ten minutes we drove in an almost arctic whiteout snow squall, then, as fast as it had hit, it was gone ...

... with the tide low, we wandered around beneath the mighty deer island bridge ... built in 1939 of a "light weight" design similar to the then-under-construction tacoma narrows bridge, dramatic wind induced oscillations of the roadway first necessitated the addition of reinforcing stiffeners (the triangle shapes projecting from the sides), and then extensions to the cable supports ... luckily, the redesign was enough to keep the deer island bridge from suffering the fate of the infamous "galloping gertie" (original color movie of the bridge's collapse) ...

... hmmmmm, did i say it was cold and windy ...
BY JOHN MEADER

... leaving the peninsula we were treated to a spectacular view across a landscape deep beneath which is hidden a vestigial rift marking the true edge of the north american crustal plate ...

... before turning inland for the final leg of the ride home, we stopped at the narrows bridge to enjoy the sunset ...

... a good day, with all my biorhythms simultaneously bottoming out, one i appreciated a bit more than usual ...

... a final thought:  these little wanderabouts of ours, there's always at least one empty seat in the car ...

*credit to Chad for the correction!