27 June 2007

Another Beach Day

Yesterday we, like everyone else in Maine, heard the ominous weather forecast of temperatures in the 90s, high humidity, and lousy air quality. We figured we'd beat the heat (or at least try to enjoy it) by spending a day at Popham Beach.

When we got there around noon, it seemed that everyone else in Maine had the same idea we had, and we waited in a long line to enter the parking lot.

But weren't we surprised when we got out of the car, expecting the same warm temperatures we'd felt back at home, and it was quite chilly. The temperature had to be in the 60s, at best, and the wind was fierce. I seriously considered turning around and going home immediately; but the kids talked me into walking on out to the beach (with all our stuff for the day) and giving it a bit of time.

I watched while my kids and their friends frolicked on the cold beach with all the other kids, while the adults sat huddled ridiculously on our blankets, wishing we'd all brought sweatshirts.

It was a bleak site, looking out toward the island as the tide slowly went out. The clouds seemed to be there to stay...


Yet, after about a half hour of shivering and promising myself we'd leave as soon as I caught site of the kids again, the sun suddenly popped out of the clouds and the entire beach crowd gave a collective sigh of relief. Ahhhhhhh...


The sky quickly cleared of all clouds and soon our earlier feelings of being cold were a distant memory. The sunshine and heat had arrived!


As did the cute little waves... but don't be deceived. The water was a frigid 58 degrees, at best.


We stayed most of the day and came back sunburnt and smiling. The next two photos pretty much sum up how we felt about our day - and Maine, in general. :)




Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

Signs of Summer


Queen Anne's Lace



Fresh Strawberries



High Temps - (too high, in my opinion!)


Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

24 June 2007

Turtles

Ok, we did toads, now we're on to turtles. Like I said once before, it was a long winter and I'm finding myself unusually fascinated with summery things.

These were taken on a fishing trip today on one of the Belgrade Lakes. I hope you got out to enjoy the day - it was spectacular. A bit windy on the lake, but dry, sunny, and warm. Ah,... summer. :)

There were several huge, prehistoric-looking snapping turtles...





And a couple of their less-intimidating cousins...



Beautiful!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

23 June 2007

Dad's Toad

During the warm months, we like to go out on our back porch each evening and look at the stars or some such thing - just a reason to be outside. Nearly every evening for the past few years, my husband has spotted a small toad just outside the back door. We like that it was there, doing its best to keep the area free of creepy crawlies.

A few times the toad has been out during the day and we've had near misses with the lawn mower and/or edger.

Ok, we DO realize that there is probably more than one toad, but we've never seen more than one at once, and we like the idea that we have A toad - not SOME toads. Over time, since my hubby is the one who finds it, the toad has been dubbed, "Dad's Toad." In fact, there have been times when he's actually gone out looking for the toad, and was quite distressed when it didn't show for days at a time.

Last summer, completely forgetting about my husband's toad, I put some weed killer around the rocks on our back walk - right where we usually find Mr. Toad in the evenings. Once we all remembered, it was too late and we simply hoped for the best. About a month later, we were all relieved when the toad showed up once again, apparently un-poisoned.

So far this season, there has been no sign of the toad - until yesterday. I was cleaning up the area around our cellar door, and when I pulled up a tarp, there he was, amongst the dried leaves. In fact, at first, I couldn't see him, I could just hear him, so great was his camouflaged skin.

We were all glad to see that Dad's toad survived another winter. Isn't he cute? :) It's tough to tell from this photo, but he's about the size of a tennis ball.



Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get on with our summer.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

19 June 2007

Another Maine Blog

Although I sort of live in my own little Maine world, I've recently been on the lookout for other Maine blogs.

I found one today that simply takes my breath away. The photographs are beautiful and I have to share it.

Visit gardenpath and your eyes will be delighted by one woman's photographic journey through her garden in Maine.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

18 June 2007

Got Beach?

After a rainy start to the month of June, we decided to "make hay while the sun shines," and spend a day at the beach.

Each year I can't help comparing the beaches in Maine to the beaches in Southern California, where we lived for a while. There, the parking is right next to the beach (though sparce) and there is a boardwalk with shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Also, the beaches out there don't charge an admission fee. Add to that the fact that the weather is usually sunny (most of the year, of course) - which means the crowds are larger.

Here in Maine, many of the beaches from the midcoast north, aren't right in town; often they require a bit of a drive, usually down a very long and winding peninsula road. Many of the beaches in Maine are in some sort of a state park, all of which charge entrance fees. Other than in extreme Southern Maine, there usually aren't any shops or restaurants; perhaps a snack bar and restrooms if you're lucky. The weather isn't always cooperative, and the beaches are really only appealing during the months of June, July and August.

Yet the beaches in Maine are clean, clear, and rarely crowded. They are dotted with rocks and pine trees, and there are islands just off the coast, often with rustic lighthouses snuggled among the rocks.

The one similarity between the beaches here in Maine and those in Southern Cal is the water temperature. Rarely does the temp get above 60 here in Maine, and unless it is an El Nino year, the same in true in Southern Cal.

But today, as we sat on the windy beach in 80 degree weather, with less people than one would expect on one of the first real beach days of the season, I found that I was more than willing to pay the $60 fee for the seasonal pass to the state parks. While we may not have beaches that are quite as accessible nor can we visit them nearly as often throughout the year as our friends in California, we do love our beaches here in Maine, and what little time there we get, we certainly appreciate.

Here are a few shots from our lazy, sunny day...





P.S. ~

In response to some of the emails about our friends leaving (previous post), HERE is the rest of the story.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

12 June 2007

Preparing to say Good-bye


I have a good friend here in town who is moving to Texas next week. Yes, Texas. She is a treasured friend and her kids are friends of my kids (all teens). Why Texas, you ask? Her husband recently retired from the military and the best job he could find was in Texas. So after a lengthy and lucky stint with the military here for the past 10 years, this family is pulling up their well-established Maine roots and will go south for good.

Tonight the family came over for dinner. After dodging rainstorms all day, we had a nice cookout and talked well into the evening. In the course of our conversation, my friend, K., told me about a going-away present another local friend had given her.

Apparently the other friend made a memory jar filled with various things that have to do with Maine. There were bits of dirt from the military base where K's husband was stationed, sand from the beach near their home, grass from the elementary school playground where her children played, and pine cones from the middle school they now attend. There was much more, but you get the idea. Each of the items was layered and was explained in a lengthy letter which also gave deeper meanings such as making new roots like the pine cones would, etc. It was a very touching, moving, and unique gift.

I'm finding it hard to say good-bye and hard to imagine Maine without my precious friend. Life will go on, but for now, it's not feeling too much like the way life should be. :(

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

11 June 2007

What I love...

...about Springtime in Maine...













I guess, like everyone else in Maine, I'm still a bit color-deprived after that very grey winter we just had. I find myself enjoying gardening this year more than ever before and I can't seem to get enough of the bright colors. How about you?

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

04 June 2007

Waterlogged Garden


I don't know about you, but I'm a bit worried about the wimpy little tomato and pepper plants that we planted over Memorial Day weekend, not to mention the flowers. After several days of dry sunshine, we welcomed a bit of rain, but this is ridiculous!

At least at our house, we can be thankful for sandy soil. It isn't much for a pretty lawn (the ants love it and they're always a battle) but it makes for much better drainage.

Here is the soggy site of our garden...



At least the forest behind the house looks pretty... rainforest, that is...



Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes