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.

August 21, 2018

WANDERABOUTING LUCK

   ... this fall john's going to hike hadrian's wall, and awhile back he asked if i'd like to take a ride with him down to the quaint picturesque village of freeport where he planned to look for the "right" backpack ... monday morning he picked me up and we were off ... after shopping and a fabulous lunch at "pedro o'hara's" in brunswick, we headed out to wanderabit ... at first we thought to go to the "road you can only travel at low tide," but decided that was too long a drive ... then we searched the maine gazetteer for someplace along the coast we "hadn't visited" — right, no luck with that ... then john said, "let's see if we can find the butler head preserve on merrymeeting bay" ... soon, not all that far off route 1, surrounded by $20,000/acre land, we came upon this most remarkable place ...
   
   
... little things:  i knew it was a pine cone, john taught me how to identify the tree from which it fell ... evidence of hard-working woodpeckers, i explained that while space shuttle astronauts undergo 3-5g's at liftoff and "the right stuff" fighter pilots black-out at 8-12g's, a woodpecker's brain suffers no damage as it undergoes 1000-1200g's twenty-two times per second ... !!! ... very unusual fact, this biological shock-absorber was extensively studied in the designing of the "lay-down" option mechanisms of several nuclear weapons ...
   
   
... they've been around for 300 million years or so, photographers have been snapping pictures of them since the very beginning of the art form ... this picture is the result of eight individual frames, each focused at a different point, being merged into a single image ...
   
   
... having lived upon dry land for perhaps two-billion years, the 20,000 known varients of lichens are of the very oldest of living things ... lichens are neither plant nor animal, they are algae or bacteria in symbiotic relationships with a fungus ...
   
 

... deep in the woods i came upon one of the earth's more recently evolved creatures, punctis magnis lens - inde trahit (cut me some slack, please, all i know of latin is what google translate tells me) ... otherwise known as the super-duper-lens-photographer ...
   
   
... it took a short hike, but we finally found a way to descend from the headland to the shore of merrymeeting bay, known to abenaki as chisapeak and quabacook ... of course, it's not really a "bay," but that's another story ... the polished flat surfaces of the incredibly hard bedrock contained these parallel gouges, all aligned ne-to-sw ... question:  do you know what caused them ... ??? ...
   
   
... after walking past many broken or tipped over trees, we came to the conclusion that at some point in the recent past a tremendous blow-down must have occured on this point ...
   
   
... with more than two-million species of which only 120,000 have been described, i wonder if anyone has named this rather frightening looking fungus ... if not, i'd like to dub it fungi sanguinem crocodilum ...
   
   
... trees, plants, even the rocks, in time all will surrender to these little colonies  ...
   
   
... we didn't know what this was, but since john posted a picture we've learned it's rattlesnake plantain, which is a traditional herbal medicine ...
   
   
... walking back to the car, in the middle of the road we came upon this seemingly exhausted little creature  ...
   
   
... john, of course, thought to record the other somewhat exhausted creature laying in the dirt ...
    
COURTESY JOHN MEADER   

... upon picking it up john exclaimed, "i can feel it grabbing on" ...
   
   
... while he went up the hill to get the car i continued getting acquainted with the dragonfly ... the likes of these fascinating aerialists have been around for over three-hundred million years ... they have four different methods of flying, which they can combine as desired ... there has never been designed and flown either an airplane or helicopter that comes even close to performing as do dragonflies with great ease ...
  

   
... twelve individual frames, aligned, focused stacked ...

dragonfly and i
eye-to-eye
i don't think it can blink
but i swear it gave a wink
eye-to-eye
dragonfly and i 


... as i worked on this picture, more than a half-hour effort, i should add, my initial thought was, "damn, what a lucky shot" ... as is my nature (read that "sometime curse"), however, i then began to reflect much deeper upon both the photographs i took and the day itself ... i decided that my pictures are from a day filled with luck because john and i made it so ...
   
... we took a little pause on the ride home ...
   
   
There is no glory in star or blossom
till looked upon by a loving eye;
There is no fragrance in April breezes
till breathed with joy as they wander by. 
WILLIAM C. BRYANT


August 4, 2018

WANDERABOUTING THE DARK

... last christmas my present to liz was a wanderabout of her choosing ... "dad, i want to go down in a cave" ... easy choice, the longest cave system in the world, mammoth cave in kentucky ... after 850 miles on the road, we stopped for a break at jon's house in columbus ... while there we visited the "field of corn" and enjoyed a nice lunch during a visit to the downtown market ...
   
  
... liz has discovered "roadside america," so we had to stop ...
   
  
... before the mid-day heat and humidity we toured the serpentine mound ... we learned that the archeologists have recently discovered that the ancient people "erased" a fourth loop ... there're all sort of fancy theories explaining this, but we think that it was simply because that loop was too close to the edge of the ravine and erosion caused it to be too difficult to maintain ... then again, the "ancient aliens" explanation might also be true ...
   
  
... we paused in lexington to play a round of "bible mini-golf" ... "old testament miracles" for us ... needless to say, i smote liz ... !!! ...
   
  
... liz has a rather unusual putting stance ...
   
  
... near the translvannia university campus we drove through a neighborhood of cleverly decorated buildings ... (the shots that have a film border were taken and processed using my cell phone camera and snapseed editor) ...
   

  
... very, very strange ...
   
  
  
... at mammoth cave we left the 90°f temps and 90% humidity behind and descended through the original entrance into a bliss inducing 55°f natural air conditioning ...
   
  
... we did three underground tours, but here i'll just sort of run 'em together ... during the two-hour "historical" tour we navigated some extremely confining passages ...
   
  
... many, many years ago it was decided that spending a long period of time living in mammoth cave would be beneficial to those afflicted with tuberculosis (then called "consumption," which is a much more descriptive name) ... in one of the little underground houses the builders put in a window ... ??? ... go figure ...
   
  
... and, as you may have already surmised, living in the damp cold air of the cave was not at all good for those with a lung disease ... this is the slab where they laid out those who weren't cured—eventually every single one of them got to recline on this stone ...
   
  
... we ran into some of the local denizens ... creepy ...
   
  
... in the way olden days, even before the great "cave wars," visitors would use candles or lanterns to smoke their names into the ceiling ... the guides, who were charged with cleaning up the paths, would offer up to their guests, "you know, you could also pile some stones to commemorate your visit" ... here is the monument to kentucky, all other somehow mysteriously kept falling apart ...
   
  
... in one of our tours we descended a staircase crammed into a massive hole such as these ... many of them were 80-100' deep ...
   
  
  
... there are five levels to the cave system, the bottom of which, being currently the active water table, is still in the formation stage ... if you look very close you can see the water at the bottom of this shaft ...
   
  
... liz thoroughly enjoyed the tours, especially since this is a place where not being tall is an advantage—believe me, my head knows ...
   
  
... while chatting about how proud of ourselves we were for having negotiated the subterranean depths we noticed this couple—we stopped our bragging ...
   
  
... our last visit was the "lantern tour" ...
   
  
... our guide was a well-seasoned (read that, "older") man from kentucky ... we were mesmerized by the the stories and tales he related ... and, in all of it, by itself his accent alone was worth the price of admission ... i mean, when someone from kentucky says "air"—well, i'm not sure it's possible to spell it ...
   
  
... "watch your head" on the left, to the right is "i'm melting" ...
   
  
... just watching the children listen to him was as good a part of the tour as anything else ...
   
  
... another of those who live in the cave ... all of the underground pictures, by the way, were taken at i.s.o. 50-some thousand ... f/stop was either f/1.8 or f/1.4, depending on the lens, and the shutter speed was as low as 1/4-second ... again, for those who complain, "oh, dear, at high i.s.o. my digital camera's sensor exhibits just way too much noise," well, duh ... dig out an old nikon or canon or whatever, go buy some "high speed" film, and give this place a try ... !!! ...
   
  
... on the way home we stopped in new york so liz could dig for "herkimer diamonds" ... (is something she loves doing—go figure this, too) ...
   
  
... four and one-half hours later, we'd found several nice stones and my hands felt like i'd been on a louisiana roadside chain gang ...
   
  
... driving along the new york throughway we were chased by a "possible tornadoes" cloud ...
   

... what an absolutely wonderful wanderabout we shared ... merry christmas liz ... and, for me, considering where i was last year this time, happy new year, patrick ...