Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30: Three Crows

When I got back to the office after lunch, I noticed three crows forming a black triangle in a tree. A co-worker said they had just been bathing in a puddle in our parking lot, splashing a lot of water around. I wish I'd seen it. As we watched them fluff up and preen in the tree, someone leaving the office asked what we were looking at. When we pointed out the crows, he noted that his wife always tells him that according to some Native American tradition, it's good luck to see three crows together like that. We'll take it.

No ice yet. Crows bathe,
then three preen in late fall sun.
Is this warmth lucky?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29: Giraffe Sky

I started off the day with low energy and ended the day in a similar place--just the biorhythms, I guess--so didn't notice much that struck a spark with me. Being tired doesn't help my creativity. But at one point I looked out the window and noticed that the clouds over Mount Battie had formed a cool patchy pattern, like the spots on a giraffe. That will have to do for today.

Sky's a blue giraffe
stretching over Mount Battie.
Brought by climate change?

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28: Darkness

Sometimes things stated simply can sound both stupid and poetic at the same time. Take this line from a Melissa Etheridge song: "And the night is black, as black as night." It sounds like she just got lazy in the lyrics department. But when I stepped outside tonight into the cloying, murky darkness, those lines were the first thing that popped into my head.

Night comes early as we descend into the depths of dark that precede Winter Solstice. It seems near midnight when I leave work each evening. Tonight, the unseasonable warmth combined with a low cloud ceiling to convey the feeling that night was literally hanging over us, like a thick dark cloth thrown over a cage.

Night is dark and deep.
Home, I turn on all the lights,
shed this thick, black cloak.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27: Breakwater, High Tide, New Moon

The title sums it up. My husband and I decided to take advantage of both a rare, work-free Sunday and relatively mild weather by getting out for a morning walk together. Our destination: the Rockland Breakwater. However, we weren't really thinking about the fact that high tide during what can still be considered the new moon might make walking the mile-long granite jetty a challenge. With about an hour still to go till full high tide, the end of the breakwater just before the lighthouse was already underwater, stranding the lighthouse as its own little island in the middle of outer Rockland Harbor. Strong winds also complicated the situation, pushing waves up over the ocean-facing side of the breakwater even at its beginning, where the wall is highest. We walked out a short distance, dodging spray, but when waves began to spread across the entire width of the wall, we decided to turn around. We weren't the only ones. The weather wasn't quite warm enough for anyone to want to risk being soaked in icy sea water, or worse, stranded on the wrong end of a flooded sea wall.

New moon, high tide, full
harbor, brimming breakwater.
We skirt the edges.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26: Games

It's a good sign that I have nothing better to do tonight than watch the Stanford - Notre Dame game and learn how to play Angry Birds for the first time. I may perhaps be the last person in the country with a mobile Apple device to download some version of Angry Birds (I went with the free Rio version). In any case, I'm positively relishing the true feeling of indulgence that allows me to while away the last few hours of my day engaged in such frivolous activity. Do I care if Andrew Luck, the Stanford QB about whom people are talking Heisman Trophy, has a good game? Do I really care if I advance to the next level of catapulting cartoon birds at laughing monkeys?

As someone who always has to be doing something productive, who can't even watch a football game without, for example, reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle at the same time, allowing myself to relax like this is a positive sign. A good dinner out with friends a few hours earlier helped set the mood, for which I'm thankful. Good food, friends, and laughter can do that. Now my only responsibility tonight is this post. So forgive me for making a game out of it...

It's all fun and games
till someone loses an eye...
like those damn monkeys.

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25: Tree lighting

Tonight Portland, Rockland, and probably many other towns are holding their tree lighting ceremonies, officially kicking off the holiday season. My husband and I are currently in a car driving home from Portland, so we're missing out. Instead we're enjoying the quotidien pageantry of headlights, taillights, and neon signs on shops from inside the warm car. And as we draw closer to Camden and anticipate a view of the Camden Hills, we're watching for something even better: tonight is the first night when Bob Oxton drives up Mount Battie to turn on the star erected on the tower. Any moment now, we're going to turn a corner and catch our first glimpse. I feel just like I did each Christmastime when I was a little kid and saw the lit star that first time.

Missed the tree lighting,
but the lit Mount Battie star
shines brightly once more.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24: Thanksgiving

So much to be grateful for on this holiday of feasting, family, and football: this sparkling day, the beauty of the snow on the Camden Hills early this morning, the generosity and warmth of my husband's big family, our health, our jobs, our marriage, a table full of wonderful food including the pecan pie I lugged all the way from Houston, the two NYT crosswords my mother-in-law saved for me to do while we watched football, spending time with our sweet nephews and niece (two big, two small), a clear starry night, a warm place to stay, and things to look forward to tomorrow here in Portland...

Thankful for the stars
in a snowless sky tonight,
all I love below.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23: Protection

Big wet snow falling today. I walked to work and then spent the first half hour there shoveling the walk. I also topped off the bird feeders, imagining the birds would be making their rounds often on a day like this. Within ten minutes titmice and chickadees were waiting their turns on a nearby bush whose branches were bent low to the ground by snow.

While I was shoveling, I noticed the frozen body of a woolly bear caterpillar stretched out on the sheltered cement patio, untouched by snow. It had clearly missed its chance to curl up in the shelter of some dead leaves or under a flake of tree bark. When I'd finished clearing the walk and was heading in, I decided to at least move its furry little body off the patio. But when I picked it up, it curled into a ball. It was still alive. Apparently it had enough antifreeze in its veins to survive at least the initial blast of this snow storm. Grateful that now I was potentially saving it rather than just giving it a better spot to decompose, I dropped it through the lattice so it would find protection amid the dry, snow-free leaves under the porch.

Later, while I was working at my desk, a chickadee paused on the edge of my feeder for at least five minutes, unmoving except for its alert eyes and an occasional turn of its head. It didn't seem to be in any distress. It peeped a few times, but mostly just sat there looking around, its tail scrunched up against the window, its tiny black toes clinging to the plastic edge of the feeder. Beyond, trees swayed and rocked. I think the bird just wanted a little rest somewhere dry and out of the wind. Eventually I stood up, and it quickly flew off into the woods.

Shelter from the storm--
as simple as one dead leaf.
Come out of the wind.

Bonus: link to Bob Dylan singing the opening stanzas of Shelter from the Storm. (I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22: Number fun

I just like the symmetry of today's date: 11.22.11. Not only is it a palindrome, but it also looks cool. Today is the birthday of an old friend from high school who was born 11.22.66. That's a funky set of numbers in itself, but she's been waiting 45 years for the perfect alignment of today's date. And then it will have passed until the next century...

Two twos walled by ones:
auspicious, aesthetic date.
A lucky birthday?

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21: Winter is coming

My husband and I are reading George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy series, of which there are now five books of an anticipated seven (or more). The first book is "A Game of Thrones," which is the title of a recently launched HBO series that we've enjoyed almost as much as the books. The central protagonist in "A Game of Thrones" is Eddard Stark, the fair-minded, strong Lord of the North in his castle Winterfell.

In the world Martin has created, the seasons follow an unpredictable pattern, with summer often lasting for years until suddenly all is plunged for an indeterminate time into deep winter. In Eddard's Northern lands, as in New England, the climate is naturally colder than the South, and wild creatures stalk dark forests. One detail I appreciate is that Winterfell would be a freezing pile of rocks if it weren't for the fact that it's heated by geothermal energy and surrounded by hot springs. As long as one can take a regular hot bath, things can't be that bad.

Each of the aristocratic families in this society has both a sigil and a motto by which they are identified and characterized. The Stark family sigil is the dire wolf, a creature which ends up playing a key role in the lives of Eddard's children. The family motto is "Winter is coming," a rather somber reminder that no matter how good things seem, the reckoning of winter could always be right around the corner. That phrase came to mind today when I stepped outside and felt instantly chilled to the bone. I'm not ready for winter yet, Eddard Stark. But ready or not, winter is coming.

Winter is coming.
Chickadees cache seeds. They know.
And leaves, they shiver.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20: White Mountains

Drove home to Maine today via scenic Route 2, which winds across northern Vermont and New Hampshire. One of the highlights of the trip is traveling above the Mount Washington valley with breathtaking views across shorn farm fields to a full profile of the Presidentials. Although the sky was gloomy with clouds, the peaks were in full view. As I watched crows gleaning in a field, I wondered what they thought about a part of the landscape that was probably higher than they would willingly fly.

Mount Washington's peak
revealed, conversing with clouds.
Crows lie low below.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19: Popovers

A chilly breeze blew through the parking lot when we left our hotel for breakfast... And was that a dusting of snow on Mount Mansfield? Lake Champlain, framed by the rugged ridge line of the Adirondacks beyond, was iron gray, deep and cold, its surface ruffled by the raw wind. As, shivering, I admired the view, I was reminded of my college years--the long months of walking around campus freezing yet loving the views of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains. There's something about Vermont topography that clings to the soul despite the harshness of the elements. (Yes, harsher than Maine--at least the Maine coast, where I'm from.)

The edge was quickly taken off our morning chill when we stepped into Cafe, a favorite spot. Hot green tea with honey, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh-baked popovers with butter and jam--along with the company of old, dear friends--started the day off on just the right level of warmth.

Cold-morning breakfast:
Popover, strawberry jam,
and tea, shared with friends.

November 18: Crafts Show

Every year at this time I come to Burlington, Vermont to work at a friend's booth at Craft Vermont, the annual show for the Vermont Handcrafters. Because it's a juried show, the quality of the work is high, and because it's Vermont--as with crafts in the crafty state of Maine--it's also diverse. The booth of the glass artist I work for is near booths of a guy who makes drums out of moose and elk hide, and beautiful flutes and didgeridoos out of wood; a woman wearing shoes worthy of Lady Gaga who makes elaborate, sculptural necklaces; a minimalist landscape photographer; a quilter; a carver of hand-painted bird ornaments and decoys; a sugar house selling maple syrup and maple sugar in various forms; and a print artist who also makes jewelry--colorful, miniature landscapes on pins and earrings. It's inspiring being surrounded by all the products of so many people's creativity, even though working the show till 8pm is also a bit exhausting--thus rendering my own poetic creativity near mute for the day.

How satisfying
to stand here and pound this drum.
Boom boom. So calming.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17: Drive to Vermont

Long drive from Maine to Vermont this afternoon. On I93 just outside Manchester, nearing dusk, a flying flock of birds caught my eye. Crows. A lot of them. As I sped past I looked over as best I could and realized the trees were full of them too: a large group roost right next to the highway.

Hour three of driving.
What's that? Roosting flock of crows.
Wow! Hundreds of them!

And then a bit later:

Dark, empty highway.
After five hours, almost there.
Oops! Going 90.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16: Peeping Jay

This morning before work I was at my desk when a shadow crossed the window. I looked up to see a blue jay perched on the gutter right outside, seeming to look in at me with those bright eyes as if making sure I was being productive. I could see other jays moving through the trees beyond--the neighborhood flock was clearly on morning patrol.

Humans seem predisposed to ascribe meaning to such experiences. For most of us, a close encounter with any form of wildlife is a notable moment these days, almost a visitation. And that's how I felt today, even though I see those jays all the time. One jay paused and appeared to notice me, to check up on me. I felt singled out. Lucky.

Blue jay checks me out,
leaves. To her I am nothing.
But she marks my day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15: Owls out there

It's a bit early in the season, but already observers are reporting snowy owls. A friend saw two on Seal Island in Penobscot Bay recently. Birders on the Maine birding list-serv have seen them in Wells, Biddeford Pool, and other southern Maine coastal spots. There are currently two hanging out near Duxbury, MA. These multiple sightings are not typical, even in winter. So what's bringing the owls to the beach? Is Maine the Riviera for this Arctic breeder?

The cause of this owl influx is lemmings, the rodents that are a snowy owl's favorite prey on its breeding grounds. When there's an abundance of lemmings, nest success rate is higher. More owls. Come winter, when resources are more limited, owls disperse widely, with younger birds typically having to fly farther afield. They head for habitats similar to the open tundra, like dunes and bare-rock islands. Most of the birds we see here in Maine are these younger birds, recognizable by the more extensive dark patterning on the white feathers. The whiter the owl, the older it is.

I'm excited that this is looking to be a snowy owl boom year here in Maine, because odds are good that one could show up on Beech Hill. They've been seen on the blueberry barrens in the past, and I've always wanted to see one there. One of my co-workers won't be happy till he sees one perched on the sod roof of the stone hut atop the hill. But I'll take just seeing one in the fields. White owls are not just rare around here, they're really cool--almost mystically beautiful--one of those birds I always want to see. Check out these photographs and you'll understand.

Rare owl visitor--
white wings over open fields.
I long to see one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14: Flying Leaves

A gust of (uncharacteristically warm) wind blew through the trees, releasing a burst of brown leaves that flew into the air like a small flock of sparrows. At first glance, I thought they were birds, until they began to drift and swirl slowly, weightlessly to the ground. Sometimes when I'm driving around these days, leaves skitter in front of my car and I almost brake, thinking they're small animals.

Animated leaves
enjoy one last fling before
landing, moldering.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13: Dog at Rest

The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish Masterworks is now showing at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and I was fortunate enough to see this exhibit on opening night. My favorite painting in the whole collection is this one:

Gerrit Dou 
Leiden 1613–1675 
Dog at Rest, 1650 
Oil on panel 
6 ½ x 8 ½ inches (16.5 x 21.6 cm) 

Notice how small this painting is. And yet you can see every hair on the dog, feel the bark on the twigs-- the brushwork is exquisite. And there's something about this little dog, curled up but with eyes open as if waiting for the owner of that little shoe to show up any second, that makes it incredibly appealing. It's more than a still life, capturing the essence of suspended energy and holding it for more than 350 years. I love this piece, and was very grateful to be able enjoy it one more time in this new venue.

Resting Dutch puppy--
eye open for centuries
waiting for us, now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12: Big Boston Moon

We landed in Boston at 5:30 this evening, which these days feels like midnight because it's already pitch dark, and headed back to my sister's house in a taxi. As we were leaving the environs of the airport, the slightly waning gibbous moon was just rising over the water, dramatically oversized and gold. A big egg yolk moon. We couldn't remember seeing the moon in Houston. It was as if it had been hanging out up here for the past few days, waiting to make such a grand entrance for our return.

Stage lights, center: Moon.
Outshines city lights, transforms
a long taxi ride.

November 11: Souffle

As part of the ongoing sequence of fetes and festivities here in Houston, tonight we enjoyed dinner at Tony's, reportedly one of the best restaurants in the city. The company was charming--people in the South really are very warm and welcoming--and the food exquisite: sushi tuna with avocado, Caesar salad, red snapper Sheridan, and the piece de resistance, four huge Grand Marniere souffles. The souffles were carried in with some ceremony, held aloft so we could all admire them. They looked like baker's hats, only edible. I've never seen anything like them. After some oohing and aahing, the souffles were cut open and served. How to describe the experience of eating the dessert? The sugary meringue-like foam with the custard filling was an incredible treat, as this whole whirlwind trip has been. I feel so grateful for each experience my sister and I have shared together over the past two days here--I've really tried to savor each one, like each bite of an excellent dessert.

Glorious souffles
risen, baked to perfection.
Enjoy your dessert.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10: River

Flew from Boston to Houston this morning with my sister. Snoozed a bit and when I awoke, there was an amazing river winding across the landscape out the plane window: S-curves and crescent-shaped ox-bows and sand bars--even the texture of waves on the water's surface was visible. This unexpected perspective on a river was mesmerizing, and I felt vaguely disappointed when we flew past it. I don't have any idea where we were or what river it was.

Seen from an airplane,
the river's a living thing
snaking through green hills.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9: Fall Voices

Each morning there's a certain sequence of sounds I expect to hear. The very early morning sound of our neighbor's garbage truck groaning down the hill and braking at the corner as he heads off to his day's work. The creak of my husband's office chair as he ekes out some writing (and news reading) time before I get up. The alarm. The high-pitched yapping of our neighbor's chihuahua, which maintains the same energy and decibel level no matter if it's 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. Birds landing on the window feeder in the kitchen. The school bus at 8 a.m. on the dot, picking up the kids across the street. When the windows are open, the constant rush of the river out back... The regularity of these sounds makes even the most annoying ones somehow comforting. All is on time and as it should be.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard over the sound of the shower what I thought at first was the neighbor's dog barking yet again. Then I realized the sound was a little different--less "yip yip yip" and more like a loud, murmuring conversation: the honking of geese. Their calls grew louder as they flew downriver behind the house, their bodies visible through the (mostly) bare branches. I'd been seeing a flock upriver at work this week, grazing near the Seabright Dam. Were they finally leaving? I felt a sudden pang at the thought.

But then, just as I began to write this, I looked out the window and saw the flock slowly flapping its way back upriver, where they landed just out of sight. Apparently this unseasonably warm, beautiful day has convinced them to stick around a little longer. One more day, at least.

Sounds of a morning:
geese conversing, heading south.
It must be autumn.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8: Seeing Red

Late fall the landscape begins to wither and fade. While trees are still hanging onto a surprising number of leaves, they're duller, burnished browns now. Grasses are dried up, flowers gone. So as I drove to Augusta this afternoon I was surprised to see nature's most vivid color suddenly blazing forth. Red! I put on the brakes as I came upon a small blueberry barren, its brilliant crimson emphasized by remnant patches of snow lingering in a shady corner. Is there any red more breathtaking than an autumn blueberry barren?

Blueberry barrens in Hope, Ragged Mountain in background
Maybe... Heading up Route 17 I was then struck by another vision of red: amid the dried-up reeds and blown-out cattails of a small wetland, a winterberry bush shone forth, its berries glowing in the sunlight like Rudolph's nose (as seen in the traditional holiday special with Burl Ives). Further along, more clumps of berry bushes popped out, exclamations along the way.

The sun was sinking low as I returned from Augusta a few hours later, washing the trees with that last rich light of the day. The mellow brown leaves were transformed into a breathtaking coppery bronze. With trees lining both sides of the road, it was like driving through a corridor lit by a living, reddish glow, enhanced all the more by a crisp, clear blue sky backdrop containing the almost full moon. Now the winterberries blurred together into a haze of color as I drove past. The scarlet of the blueberry fields deepened. If I were an artist and tried to paint with those reds, it would look unreal, unnatural. But there I was, surrounded by them. Real life red, almost pulsing.

Before all goes white,
red appears: blueberry fields
and winterberries.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7: Misty Moon

Thanks to the time change, when I left work this afternoon, dusk was already falling. The waxing moon was rising over Mount Battie, slightly blurred by a frosty mist. Misty moon. I was reminded of a key scene in my favorite book, the 11th century Japanese classic The Tale of Genji (which I've referred to in several other posts-it's a poetic touchstone for me). Made restless by the beauty of the misty moon, the book's hero, Genji, sneaks around the women's wing of the royal palace looking for romance. He chances upon a mystery woman whom he overhears admiring the moon and ends up spending the night with her. That's how things happened in that time and culture.

The mystery woman is thereafter referred to as Oborozukiyo, Night of the Misty Moon. Turns out she's a princess, the crown prince's wife-to-be, and the sister of Genji's greatest political enemy. This combination of poetry and forbidden love of course makes her all the more irresistible to Genji, whose continued pursuit of her sets in motion the series of political events that eventually lead to his exile. It's one of the many romantic vignettes exquisitely captured in the book, and I've always been especially drawn to it--perhaps because I too can remember being similarly moved by the poetic beauty of the misty moon, way back in my reckless youth.

Misty moon rising:
romantic memories blur
under Genji's moon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

October 6: Desire Lines

Every now and then in a conversation or presentation, some phrase or concept will resonate with me. This past weekend at the Juice Conference I attended a session "Connecting People to Places," about how communities can create easier ways for people to get to where they want to go by foot or by bike. Someone from Portland Trails offered several examples of how his organization has makes use of "desire lines"--the beaten-down paths we make when we commonly use a particular, informal route to get from one place to another.

Every community has these desire lines. They track our natural patterns of movement, as opposed to the routes that are laid out for us in the form of sidewalks, streets, and formal trails. If you drive around with the concept in your head, you'll start noticing them: the path that gets you from a parking lot to a street through a little section of woods; a shortcut across the park; that easy cut-across from the school to the well-traveled street.

Portland Trails takes note of these desire lines in the city and tries to make them into formal paths, to both encourage safer foot traffic and potentially transform a trampled and eroding dirt path into something more aesthetically pleasing to the community. I've just got the phrase stuck in my head because I'm a poet and am drawn to something that uses a strong word like desire to denote something so practical and (literally) grounded. The metaphorical potential is huge.

Desire lines: those paths
where human need wore its way
to what it wanted.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

October 5: Downtown falcon

After being alerted at least three times by a fellow Camden birder of various sightings of a peregrine falcon that regularly perches atop the steeple of the Baptist church, I finally saw it for myself.

This morning before 8:00 I found myself standing outside the Camden Opera House as a volunteer for a conference. Looking across the Village Green toward the church, as a small flock of pigeons circled overhead, it occurred to me that now would be the perfect time for a falcon to show up. So I kept one eye on the sky while carrying out my volunteer duties. The church clock rang eight. A silhouette of a largish bird perched atop the bank caught my eye, but no, it was a (very vocal) crow. More people passed, conference attendees, dog walkers. But I kept watching, I had faith.

And then, there it was. A pair of crows sounded the alarm as a large falcon flew overhead, its profile distinct against the blue morning sky. From its size, I'm thinking she was a female. She made a few passes. I excitedly pointed her out to a pair of random conference participants. She dipped behind the church and circled the steeple. I hoped she would perch on the steeple, but not this morning. She was there and then gone, leaving me standing there on the sidewalk with a foolish grin on my face for several minutes.

Peregrine fly-by
right here, downtown, this morning--
I finally saw it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

November 4: Cricket

Surprise visitor:
cricket behind the toilet.
Lucky for us both.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2: Flies

This morning I attended a meeting in the Camden Snow Bowl lodge, an old A-frame that turns out to be the perfect habitat for those big, lazy house flies that literally come out of the woodwork this time of year. The side of the building that faces the ski slopes is all windows, and I couldn't help but notice hundreds of black specks crawling on the inside surface of the glass. When I exclaimed in horrified amazement to a staff person there, she directed my attention to a window in the opposite peak, over her office. It was covered with masses of flies, so many that they obscured the view. We joked that the place needed 20-foot strips of fly paper.

Throughout our meeting I kept catching, out of the corner of my eye, the sight of flies moving--a sensation similar to seeing stars, only they didn't go away. Luckily, most of the flies were far above us. But every now and then one would land on one of us or the table and just cling there in a slow, creepy way. I could have easily caught one with chopsticks. I kept feeling them land on my hair, whether they were there or not. The creepiness went up a notch when a big ventilation fan that had been humming loudly throughout our meeting turned off. Suddenly we could all hear the buzz of hundreds--maybe thousands--of flies...

White noise of black flies
in crawling constellations
above us: wall's gift.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1: Ducktrap Salmon

One great thing about my job with Coastal Mountains Land Trust is that every now and then they let me out of the office to spend time on one of our conservation properties. Our Ducktrap River Preserve has long been one of my favorite places.

Late this afternoon a group of us gathered there around fisheries biologist Peter Ruksznis to learn some of the mysteries of salmon migration and spawning. Peter had that day carried out his survey of salmon redds in the river, and as he'd expected, he found none. This was sad, but not unexpected--five years ago, he'd also found none, and this would have been the next generation of that spawning year. However, other "cohorts," or multi-generational runs, have fortunately been more successful, making the Ducktrap the only Maine river with a natural run of Atlantic salmon. (All our other salmon rivers are currently stocked.) We also learned why the Ducktrap offers ideal habitat for salmon: 85% of it is permanently conserved, it's a consistently cool river (in part due to heavy forest overhanging much of its banks) with appropriate riffles, a bed that's the right texture for salmon nests, relatively few small-mouthed bass, which are voracious predators, and an appropriate amount of twists and turns

Salmon leave the Ducktrap and swim to the West coast of Greenland, to return four years later  to spawn. They find their home river by smell. I couldn't help but wonder how far out to sea a salmon can pick up the scent of its home waters, and what triggers are at work in that little fish brain to help it recognize where to go. It seems miraculous, really. We're talking about a tiny handful of fish independently returning to a tiny river on the complex coastline of Maine after swimming to Greenland and back.

Thinking about the miracle of the continued return of salmon to the river (just not this year) put the river in a new light for most of us--a light that was only enhanced by actual end-of-day sunlight falling heavily, brightly, onto the river and the surrounding tangle of forest.

Clean, chilly riffles
lit by filtered fall sunlight.
Here there be salmon.