Sunday, June 27, 2010

Loons on Little Sebago

I sat alone on my deck one hot, humid night enjoying the silence as I sipped a glass of iced tea. OK, it was wine. The rising moon sparked a streak across the dark water. The air was oppressive with humidity. I was greeted by the song of a single note—high and clear and drawn out and lonely sounding in the otherwise still night. It was followed by a second note, a bit higher, and ended in a trill that echoed across the water. It might have been the same singer—or it might have been in answer to the first note, a duet, if you will, of single notes but in different cadence. I was listening to the sound of the common loon—or loons.

The loon makes several distinct sounds—and some believe each sound is associated with its own message. This link demonstrates four distinct sounds loons make and explains what these sounds mean, but how can we ever know that for sure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We raise the flag on our deck as soon as we arrive at camp—to let everyone on the lake know we are back in Maine. As if they cared. Our camp was built in 1961 by a New York City policeman who brought the flag pole here from the NYC Stone Container Building. It is installed in a corner of our deck. How he got it, I do not know, but our American flag flies from it as long as we are in residence. In deference to our Midwest home and our daughter and son-in-law's alma mater, (and my favorite college football team!) we also fly the Block O. Go Buckeyes!  It's a sure sign that I am "from away" I suppose.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gardening at the lake

Last week, I had lunch with an old friend. Mary, a skilled and passionate gardener, asked me if I enjoyed any leisure time for gardening while I was in Maine. I snorted daintily. First of all, not much grows in the rocky, sandy soil on my property. But even if flora could survive here, I really don’t enjoy gardening, so I don’t much bother with landscaping type projects. Frankly, I’d rather stick a pencil in my eye than dig around in the dirt.

I do enjoy looking at flowers, though, (especially when they are in someone else’s garden, particularly Mary’s). I’m definitely into low maintenance flower gardening here at my camp. OK, NO MAINTENANCE, and now for the first time, I’ll share my secret for “gardening” at the lake:

Makes one flower garden

Active time: 5 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes


• One 30 lb bag potting soil (the kind with the fertilizer already in it will save time down the road)

• A dozen potted annual seedlings (same color, same variety—no sense in getting fussy at camp). I’m partial to pink impatiens.

• Household scissors


Throw the bag of potting soil on the shore. With the scissors, cut a rectangle out of the plastic bag of the potting soil. Plant seedlings. Water thoroughly. (Timesaving hint: if you place the bag on the shore of the lake where the wave action reaches it, you won’t ever have to water the flowers.) Ta da! The perfect no maintenance garden.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Always something!

We haven’t made many changes to the furnishings of the camp over the years. The furniture is tastefully rustic, as in old and worn out. Nevertheless the furnishings are chosen castoffs from other places, and we camp owners generally resent any donated cast offs, as in “I wasn’t needing this any more, but couldn’t bear to throw it away. I thought you might be able to use it at your camp.” In my camp, time pretty much stands still. The same photos have been on the wall for at least a dozen years. The same magazines are on the shelf of the nightstand. The latest issue of Yankee magazine dates 1990. There are a few changes that attest to the march of time. Next to the books is a collection of movies on DVD, and next to the old transistor radio is a docking station for our mp3 players. Cranium and Apples to Apples occupy the same horizontal space as Old Maid, Uno and the ancient jig saw puzzles.

I like things pretty much just the way they are. If we just had a little brick patio at the bottom of the steps where that big pile of sand is, that would be nice. And maybe replace the old kitchen counter top and the vinyl flooring in the bathroom. Oh yes, and a little storage shed at the end of the driveway would be nice. Well, there’s always something isn’t there?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Clean water

I come to Maine every year to be by the water. All summer I sit on my deck beside the clean freshwater lake, and when I need an “ocean fix,” it is a short drive to the nearby coastal village of Freeport. I don’t take for granted that I can enjoy the water, but I do take for granted that the water will always be here. Or at least I did until this summer.

I have been watching the horrific television news images of the devastation to the Gulf coast caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I watch interviews with the stunned Gulf shore residents trying to clean the brown, sticky oil from their once pristine beaches; and with the heartbroken shrimpers whose livelihood has been destroyed almost overnight. The wildlife images get to me especially—the oil soaked pelicans, the fish washed ashore, dying on the sand. Even if some of the animals can be saved, where will they live? Their habitat has been destroyed.

A few weeks ago, the head of BP in a news conference said that no one more than he wanted to get the problem solved so he could “get his life back to normal.” See how quickly he made a global disaster all about himself?

Experts predict that it will take more than 60 years to clean up the spill. I wish I could help. Meanwhile, what am I doing to help clean up the oil spill? NOTHING. See how quickly I can make a global disaster all about me?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dinner in Portland

Last night my guests and I ate dinner at a floating restaurant docked in the Casco Bay of Portland, Maine. Of course, there were lobster and clam chowder at our table, even though one of my guests is a vegetarian. She tasted the tiniest morsel of lobster at the urging of her friend and pronounced it delicious. I felt smug.

We had a table by the water, and we watched as dark rain clouds approached from the west, blotting out the sun and ruining any chance we might have had of viewing the sunset as we feasted on our seafood and sipped our wine. Then came the rain. Then came the sun. As we watched the harbor seals playing in the water beyond our window, one of us spotted a rainbow forming over the ocean. First it was just a comma reaching out of the water towards the sky, but before our eyes, it soon formed a brilliant arch over the water. Out came the cell phones and cameras in an effort to capture the moment. A beautiful Maine moment. Did I mention that I felt smug? Rainbows carry great promises.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Guests are coming!

The first of my summer house guests are coming tonight, and there is much to do to get ready.  Last summer I wrote about this experience for the Portland Press Herald.  The short article was published twice, and it pretty much sums up what I'll be doing today, so I'll link you to the story here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hummingbirds on my deck at Little Sebago Lake

The hummingbirds are always very active at the feeder on my deck at Little Sebago Lake.  My chair is directly in the flight path, and on some days I feel I should be wearing a helmet for safety!  I can't wear anything red because the humming birds hover around me when I'm sitting on the deck.  Here is a short video that we took of the hummingbird activity last year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Settling in at Little Sebago Lake

Typically, for the first week at camp we spend a good deal of time fixing things that have broken over the winter—or breaking things we will need to fix over the summer.

Unless we’ve let guests use our place after we leave at the end of the summer, we usually find things pretty much the way we left them. If guests have been there, however, I find myself rearranging dishes and towels and sheets on their respective shelves so that the order makes sense to me. I never stack the twin sheets with the full sheets. The beach towels are stored on a shelf of their own—definitely not with the bath towels. And I’m pretty compulsive about the way the plates are stacked—tan, brown, tan, brown, tan. Weird, huh?

Opening up means, first and foremost, getting the water going—pump, well, toilet—all in working order. This year it went smoothly, but not so last year: We turn on the hot water heater which promptly burns out because we forgot to first turn on the pump. The rest of the day goes like this: Go to the hardware store and get new parts for the hot water heater. Fix the hot water heater. Pour chlorine bleach down the well. Return to the hardware store for parts for the pump. Fix the pump. Return unneeded parts for the hot water heater and pump to the hardware store.