Posts Tagged ‘ecosystems’

Goddess Fortune continues to smile on us.

Not only are we presently wallowing in the lap of luxury at the Marriott Residence Inn in Scarborough (Sheba is modeling the chaise below, just to give you an idea of the wake-me-up décor. And in case you’re with Marriott, she didn’t get up there again – promise!) …

… but, after just three days in Maine we found a perfectly wonderful place to live.

As you can see below (don’t forget to click on photos if you want to see a better resolution version), I’m not going to have to search for ways to actualize my determination to Get Back Into Shape Immediately.

We have been gifted with the Stairs from Hell, and what you see in these photos is only the beginning, since we’re on the second and third floors. After arriving at the front door, you climb another steep set of stairs to the main floor, and there’s yet another equally steep set up to the bedrooms and second bath. I anticipate slimmer hips in a month or less, and not a dollar spent on a Stairmaster.

And why are we moving into such a rigorously demanding condo? Besides the charming appearance?

My California friends may want to sit down for this part. We are getting 1,000+ square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a huge kitchen, expansive living room, back deck and mud room for $725 a month. And, no, I didn’t leave off any digits. $725! And we were paying $1,500 for a poky and highly unsatisfying 1 bedroom in the San Francisco South Bay area. Not only that, this is a very quiet cul de sac, and at a high enough elevation to afford a great view of oncoming weather. And new insulation was installed in the spring.

Here we have beauty all around, a very large patch of woods in our back yard. Our hunter kitty Sneakers will be in heaven, and so will we. And if I ever feel the stairs are insufficient exercise, I can hike through the woods to the “Y” or head down to the playing fields across the main drag.

It was when I asked about those incredibly daunting stairs that I first heard a stock Maine saying which I’ve already come to understand has many layers of nuanced and complex meaning, and which is always delivered with a charming mixture of affection and exasperation:

The phrase? “Well, this is Maine, after all!”

I’ve gotten that answer so many times I’ve lost count … a few I remember are when I asked about a glitch signing up for Comcast telephone service, when my daughter Julia and I searched store after store without success for some sleeping bags to tide us over until our stuff arrives from California (3 weeks minimum), and when I suggested to the Portland Whole Foods deli manager that they might want to sell the terrific parsnip pancakes I found at other Whole Foods across the country. Actually, what the deli manager said was, “Well, don’t be surprised if you have to wait a year or so. This is Maine, after all.”

To add interest and challenge to all this good fortune and delight, I’m finding that, in spite of early Mainers’ assessment, I am going to have to work on a couple of areas in order to really fit in, so far most notably on my sense of humor and my style of driving.

I’ve never been honked at so much in my life (and not just when I’m not sure where I’m going, or when I’m trying to squeeze a largish car down freaking impossibly narrow streets), but – hey! – maybe it’s just the California license plate. So far ours is the only one I’ve seen since hitting New England, although I have seen some Washington state plates.

Also my ironic humor is usually greeted with blank faces and/or confused silence. Very disconcerting!

But everywhere we go we drive next to or over waterways, and the ever-present woods actually began to turn color on the Equinox yesterday.

My favorite moment so far, though, occurred while we were walking thru the charmingly quaint downtown of Bath yesterday. I looked up to see a man silhouetted against the water visible through the wide open doors of a very old warehouse-like building, and he was actually hand fashioning a wooden keel rib for a large boat! It was like seeing a woodcut come to life.

It’s too bad I didn’t have my camera, because I swear the photo would have been an award winner.

We’re moving in to our new place on Tuesday, so the next few days will be busy with packing and provisioning (not many gluten free stores in that area, but plenty around Portland). I do have one more silly story to tell which I’ll upload for tomorrow, and then the next post depends on when our internet is up and running.

Till then … may your fall be abundant and full of beauty.


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After a day of trying to put what I saw and felt in the Hoh Rain Forest into words, I remembered that my friend Cammy had asked for pictures and decided to lean on that old saw of a picture being worth 1,000 words. If you’re a subscriber, I think you may actually have to go to the blog to see these photos … but if you’re as ga-ga about forests and streams as I am, you might enjoy them!

If you click on each photo you’ll get a better resolution, by the way.

This first photo was taken from the parking lot, believe it or not, and if you look closely you’ll see that the mosses are pretty dry from summer heat and reduced rain, but the wetland is still going strong.

Here’s my daughter Julia showing us what the rain forest can do to man’s puny efforts at civilizing this vast, mysterious realm …

Below is one of the loveliest, clearest and most prolific little streams I’ve ever seen, with layers and layers of water plants. Julia, who studied watershed management, said it was the best habitat for young salmon that she’d ever seen.

Here’s a better look at the mosses which are so abundant in a temperate rain forest.

This one is a lovely study of nurse logs, with older trees whose roots once drew nourishment from a nurse log in the foreground, their roots framing where the nurse log once lay, and busy nurseries in the background.

And last here’s a look at a rain forest microcosm.

Also, while we were on our way into the rain forest area, we discovered something about Washington timber/forest management programs. Washington has what are called State Trust Lands which are managed very differently from those owned by Weyerhauser and others, and the difference is stunning. These Trust Lands are thinned rather than clear cut, the undergrowth appears to still be intact (which takes a lot of work!), and, rather than looking like boneyards, they appear abundantly healthy.

Coming up in the next couple of days: musings on being different, and a quick peek at highlights of the Twilight zone …

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