November 21 – escape from New England

A bit of a “grab bag” post covering the second half of my trip to Maine.  For the last few days, I was more occupied with cleaning and packing the house and socializing with friends,  and wasn’t able to do as much outdoor exploration.   Still, I wasn’t exactly “full-time” busy, and I managed to get out some.  On Monday morning, I went on a very interesting and educational walk with the local logger who has been working on our property, discussing past, present, and future forest thinning projects, looking at areas that had been cut in the past couple of years and areas he would work on this winter. I thought to take my camera, but as it was raining for most of our walk, I didn’t take it out.

In the afternoon, after the rain stopped, I thought I might do some walking through the part of our property on the far side of the creek– nearly half of our total acreage–which hadn’t seen any cutting since before I was born.  First, I had to get across the creek, which was actually running kind of high.Image

The rocks in central Maine, like this sharp shale, are so very different from those in the mid-Atlantic.Image

I walked up and down the banks for a while trying to find a place to cross without getting my feet wet.  At this point, it was just a few degrees above freezing, so I was hoping to stay dry.Image

Another view of my family’s “swimming hole,” where I was able to walk across the stream on the top of the rock dam.Image

So here’s the dumb part.  I got across the creek, and started walking through the pleasant, open forest on that side.  Then, I saw a hunter off in the distance through the trees.  I realized that I had neglected to put on my neon orange cap and vest, quite important this time of year– in fact, I was dressed mostly in earthy grays and browns.  And I really didn’t feel like getting shot the day before I was supposed to fly home, so I turned around and walked home. Image

When I had been in town over the weekend, I bought a bag of birdseed and spread it out around the yard, just to see what happened.  What happened is that a bunch of big blue jays moved in and spent the rest of the week eating the seed.  On the last day I was there, a flock of juncoes showed up to share the bounty with the jays.Image

Tuesday was the last day we would be in Maine, and it was the coldest and windiest day of the week.  Just after I woke up, I looked out the front window and saw snow blowing through the air and a wild turkey in the front yard under the apple tree.  Just before leaving, I made a last-minute trip to a friend’s house.  Here’s a classic November view of West Athens, a hometown like no other.Image

A view of the power line that runs across our property.  Our land starts about three poles back from the “Hole In The Wall Road,” from where this photo was taken.Image

Dairy farm in West Athens.  Green grass, green pines, and 50 shades of gray.Image

Just another mid-fall scene along the “Hole in the Wall Road.”Image

during the week I was in Maine, I came across many apple trees still holding onto some of their withered frost-damaged fruit, long after they had lost their leaves.  I wanted to include a photo of one example of these trees, as it seems like a real sign of the season.Image

I got back to our house on Tuesday morning about 30 minutes before we were going to head down to Portland.  Off to the north, it was clear that something was blowing in.  Just as we were bringing our bags out to the car, it began to snow.Image

It’s difficult to get good photos of snowfall before it starts to accumulate on the ground, but the blustery wind and blowing snow definitely gave our escape from central Maine a bit of urgency.Image

easier to see the snow in this photo.Image

And here’s a couple more photos of our yard, with the white flakes blowing this way and that, as we headed off for points south.Image

Image

We got to Portland on Tuesday evening, and were on an airplane before dawn on Wednesday morning.  Just before 10 in the morning, I arrived at the Richmond airport, having successfully brought my mother out of Maine just in time.  After a week in northern New England, Richmond felt not quite tropical, but quite a welcome change nonetheless.  We sat out in the sun waiting for our ride home, enjoying the “greater-than-40-degree” warmth.  Driving around Richmond, it felt like we had gone back in time about a month.  Many of the trees in the city are still quite bright with color, even the dramatic red and orange maples that had lost their leaves weeks ago around Twin Oaks.

As we made our way back to Louisa County, the last vestiges of fall color fell away, and the woods here at Twin Oaks look not all that different than the forests of central Maine, in that the trees are mostly all bare of leaves, and the landscape is looking pretty much like winter.  Hopefully I will have time to do some exploring and photographing in the next few days; I came home to a big pile of indexing work which promises to cut somewhat into my time for exploration/observating, but I hope to set aside more time to work on this journal sometime in the next few days.

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