Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Last Blooms of Autumn

I snapped this photo on Wednesday, documenting this hardy little geranium splashing its brave color in defiance of the shortening days and deepening cold. All good things, etc: the frost came last night, and the blooms have withered.

Nevertheless! Geraniums are actually perennials, and I am thinking if I bring this one inside, perhaps in my cellar where it can go dormant, perhaps it will bloom again in the spring.

That's the great thing about spring; it always comes around again.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Born on the Kennebec

Exciting happenings in downtown Augusta: this week saw the opening of our first brew pub, Cushnoc Brewing

I'd love to tell you that we checked it out, and the beers on offer were amazing, as was the wood-fired pizza; and maybe they are! But I wouldn't know because though we tried to check it out - the beer anyway - last night, we were unable to find a seat. Or rather, we were unable to find an appropriate seat: if you were there for beer, you could sit here but not there, or you could stand, unless of course you were also getting pizza, in which case you could sit there or there. It seemed complicated.  I was hoping for more of a Three Dollar Dewey's experience: sit where you want, order what you want, food or drink. Cushnoc shares with Dewey's the long communal tables that patrons share with strangers as well as their party so I imagined a similar casualness.

No matter! I was glad to see they got a rousing turnout for their fist Saturday night. The pizza smelled amazing, and though I don't often have money to go out to eat, I can sometimes scratch up enough for a couple of beers. Looking forward to visiting on a less crowded evening. Here are some photos I grabbed from their Facebook page:

BTW, we ended up at the Black & Tan instead last night, a smaller pub with an Irish bent. As they do most weekends, they had live music last night. The bartender was wearing a kilt! Possibly for some seasonal reason - it was the Halloween pub crawl last night - but since I cherish in my heart a hope that kilts will one day again come into fashion for men, I chose to believe otherwise. The B &T is another relatively new addition to the previously-almost-non-existent Augusta nightlife, which now includes not just the aforementioned eateries (drinkeries? Is that a word?) but also Circa 1885, a wine bar (most unfashionably, I hate wine, but still), and Otto's on the River, a high end restaurant. The Riverfront Barbeque and Grill is still on Water Street, as well.

I'm excited to see all these new establishments downtown. I feel like downtown Augusta is on the cusp of becoming what I always thought it could: it has the architecture, it has the river, it has a potential client with decent jobs nearby. It just needed a critical mass of happenings to draw people in.

Anyway! Welcome to Augusta, Cushnoc Brewing! Now we need some good shopping. Like, City Drawers? Or something akin to the old Kennebec River Artisans? Maybe Kennebec Chocolates could be persuaded to move a half mile for better walk in traffic.

While I am waiting for all that to happen, I am delighted to have more places to drink good beer. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Monarch in Maine

Female Monarch Butterfly

I saw this little lady (yes, a lady for sure!) on Macworth Island about a week ago. Because I am blessed with the kind of friends who not just notice things like butterflies, but stop and photograph them, I am starting to wonder if monarchs are making a comeback? I have seen a few more this year than last IRL, but I have seen many more on social media. In addition, my brother, who lives near a wooded area and has a large patch of milkweed on his property, says he and his wife & their little sons have seen chrysalises everywhere.

We so rarely get anything like good environmental news. The globe continues to warm, idiots continue to pretend it isn't, pesticides and habitat loss and even devices like hydro dams, which are meant to do less harm by replacing coal burning electrical generation, all contribute to species loss. Maybe, just maybe we are not going to lose this beloved beauty.

Male Monarch butterfly
I know this butterfly is a female, because the males have oval shaped black dot on their inner wings. Here's one a friend posted:

Yes, that's a marijuana plant it has landed on. Legal in Maine!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Moxie Falls, Moxie Gore Township

The trouble with photographing waterfalls is that you can't really get a sense of the scale of the thing. Rocks can be any size. Trees and branches have a pretty broad range, too. In this photo, the tiny little people to the top right of the falls are key to get an idea of the immensity of the drop.
Moxie Falls, in the township of Moxie Gore, plummets an incredible 90+ feet. That's three times the height of my house. The pool at the bottom of the falls is nearly 17 feet deep but I wouldn't recommend a dive.

If you aren't from Maine, you probably think of the word moxie as a anachronistic synonym for spunk or courage. This comes from the soft drink made in Maine, which in turn took its name from a patent medicine which claimed to build up one's nerve. This was before the FDA was created, when companies could make all the unfounded medical claims they wanted! But hey, how about that Big Government tyranny, amirite?

But I digress.

In Maine, the name Moxie is associated with a stretch of water feeding into the Kennebec River - Moxie Pond, Moxie Stream, Moxie Falls. It seems to derive from an Abenaki word meaning "dark water." The soft drink takes its name from the region, and adjective comes from the soft drink.

The trail leading into the falls is a relatively easy hike. It's wide and flat most of the way, but does include some steep staircases as you approach the falls. There are wooden viewing decks from which the view is maintained by Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands - they trim back branches and brush to keep it clear. By which I mean, don't crawl out on the ledge trying to get a better view!

A Maine man, Garth Coon, was killed 2005 when his companion, who had been swimming in a pool
near the top of the falls got swept away by the current. He tried to save her, but they were both pulled over. Though badly injured, she lived; sadly, he did not. 

There is a much, much safer swimming hole upstream, within the series of small drops known as Junior Falls. The day we were there a youth group was enjoying it, splashing around, sitting on the natural bench the ledge makes just under the falls. 

This pool is also pretty deep - people were doing cannonballs from a low ledge on the far side. It's a fast-running stream pretty deep in the woods - the water is clean and clear. The hike, while not arduous, is sort of a self-selecting mechanism; most people who are willing to walk that far into the woods to take a swim are also the sort who wouldn't leave beer cans and other trash around. 

It's a pretty drive to Moxie Gore, and the area gets a goodly lot of visitors to hunt, fish, canoe, and tube. (Bullfrog Adventures will take you on a gorgeous, safe, and surprisingly cheap tubing trip.) As a result there are several little restaurants and brew pubs on 201 for you to grab a bite & a pint on the way home. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Batty McFly

For the third time this month we've entertained a bat visitor, in our living space. We're not sure how they are getting in, but it's an old house and most likely they are living in the attic and squeezing through some tiny hole into the living room. I like bats. I think they are cute - look at Batty McFly's hilariously fierce little face! In actuality he is not trying to intimidate, he was making those echolocation squeaks that bats use to get around.

I did a little reading and discovered that McFly is probably a Big Brown Bat, as opposed to a Little Brown Bat. "Big" is a relative term, and he (she?) was not at all a large animal. Both kinds are found in Maine. Big Brown Bats have longer fur and are more likely to be living in barns and attics.
Big Brown Bats are born in June, and the ones we are finding may well be the young of year, attempting to venture outside for the first time. Bad luck for them that they find themselves in the House of Many Cats, although none has been killed yet.
I captured McFly (and our earlier visitors) by putting on my work gloves ( I doubt they would bite but why take the chance?) and placing a wastepaper basket over them, then closing up the end with a bit of cardboard, and bring the lot outside. McFly seems tuckered out, because he didn't fly away right off the...bat, but hung out 😄for a while - long enough for me to snap this photo.

Like Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bats can be infected with White Nose Syndrome, although their populations are not crashing like their smaller cousins.