Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today marked the first day of Kayak Season in Bangor, ME. Coincidentally, it was also the first day of Flipflop Season which makes me equally ecstatic. I paddled a new stretch of water today, at the end of Field's Pond in Holden. Beautiful narrows stretched before me with bright yellow sun and bold blue skies above.

I have never paddled this early in the season in Maine before, and it was such a treat. There are no insects out yet, and very few birds, which made for a very peaceful afternoon - occasionally interrupted by the birds fighting with each other.

~Ducks flying into the sun~

I was happy to be able to navigate an area that, based upon depth and the dense reed and grass thickets, I don't believe I would be able to travel in the summer when the plants are grown up.

And I was so glad to have found this stretch of open water - it was my third stop because the other places I went were still too frozen to navigate. The narrows had some ice that made areas off-limits, but it was largely open and easily navigable. It was really neat to hear the sound of the ice. It was rhythmically squeeky with the bobbing water from my wake, as the frozen edges rubbed together. I tried to record it but the sound was so gentle my microphone couldn't pick it up.

~Thankfully the boat stayed upright. It would have been a chilly dunk!~

After a couple of miles I turned back and caught some really great shots of red-winged blackbirds high in the trees overlooking the marsh.

Today's paddle rounds out my 27th Goal: to kayak three new bodies of water. Last summer I went adventuring on Mud Pond in Old Town and Souadobscook Stream, a tributary to the Penobscot River. Below are a few shots from those trips. In order to attain my goal I did some research and found a comprehensive list of all the ponds and lakes in Maine. I have a feeling this summer The Frogg and I will be visiting many more new spots!



Pick a puddle, and paddle!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


"Simplify" has become somewhat of a buzz word these days, as we are increasingly bombarded with dings and jingles from the entire world that now lives in our pockets and purses. It is so easy to reach out to anyone about anything, and so easy to be reached in return. A blessing and a curse, our communications infrastructure has paved the way to a world construct that allows us to be perpetually connected, almost forces us to be chained to the portable little boxes that have become the instruments we use to interact with the whole world.

Don't get me wrong; I love the ability to use Google as an endless library and email to dash quick notes off to friends and loved ones. But there are times when I can't help but realize how inorganic our system has become. When was the last time you put pen to paper and mailed a real, actual letter? When was the last time you perused the aisles of a real library, greasing the cogs in the back of your mind that remember how to use the dewey decimal system? When was the last time you turned everything off?

There's something to be said for that stillness of time and quiet of brain. As a child, some my favorite memories are of the days we spent home from school, the power out, room lit with candles, no sounds other than those that we ourselves generated, playing board games and reading, toasting bread on the surface of our wood-fired cookstove.

Gone are those days, as I live a more urban lifestyle in a downtown apartment of a small city. I don't have a woodstove here and the power never goes out. But I was reading through my goals list this morning, thinking about how so much of it is geared toward getting back to basics. Getting in touch with history, with where I come from, with the techniques used generations before me to keep a household running, with reaching back to a day when you couldn't buy yogurt in the stores and bread didn't come wrapped in plastic. These innovations are also a double-edged sword. Designed as a convenience to simplify the process of running a home and allow everyone to focus more energy on non-homemaking activities, they also strip us of the joy that comes from getting our hands sticky and making our kitchen smell like home.

I don't eschew or vilify modern conveniences, because they touch my life in as many ways as everyone else's. But occasionally doing things 'the old fashioned way' is what keeps me grounded and allows me to step outside of the every day hustle and bustle of dings and rings and sound bites and headlines, to find the sanctity that is in every home, when you remove distraction and focus on a moment. What do you do yourself or with your family that allows you to remove distractions and just BE? I'd love to hear the responses. If you can't come up with one, I challenge you to plan a blackout day. Shut down anything that buzzes and chimes, lights up or glows in the dark without flame. Pull out some books and cards, crayons and paper and just see what happens. Although there will be the initial 'what now?', you may be surprised at what comes from an afternoon of serenity.

~What fun my friends and I had one evening with nothing but a box of rocks!~

I spend many of these quiet afternoons in the kitchen, because that is how I best connect with a feeling of liberation from the daily grind. Some may enjoy time in the yard, knitting, reading or painting. What is your escape? Today, I am off to strain the yogurt I started last night and make some homemade granola. My phone is off, TV powered down, my surroundings simplified. Just the way I like it - every once in a while.