...to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free....

28 March, 2012

harvesting clams

Clamming is hard work for folks.

You head out with some white spackle buckets, 
a plastic snow sled or a small boat, 
wearing big tall boots that go to your knees. 

You carry a heavy hand rake that looks like this:

You walk in the mud as far as you can go.

...and you bend over, for hours, no matter 
if the sun is hot or the wind is freezing,

while you turn over the mud and look for clams.

As the tide goes further out or in,
you travel with it.

If there are two low tides when it's light out,
you just might return the same day for another harvest.

(I figure a lot of Ibuprophen gets ingested
by clammers in these parts.)

When the tide comes back in,
or when you've had enough,
you take your clams back to shore,
often leaving your boat at anchor on the mud, or in the water.
It'll float on high tide,
sit in low tide,
and be there when you come back the next day.
When you go out to do it all over again.

Then you drive to the dealer, 
and hope for a good price.
A price which, after you pay for the gas 
to get to and from your grounds,
will adequately compensate you 
for your hours bent over in all weather, raking.

Any cracked or broken clams,
no matter how alive they still are,
will not be part of your sale.
But you can bring those home and make chowder.
Or fry them, or make clam cakes.
Maybe until you never want to eat another clam again.

*   *   *

Clamming is easy for gulls.
You gather on the flats, and look for the spurts
that clams make in the mud.

You poke around with your beak, and haul one
to the surface.

Then, you take wing.

One might think it would be hard to make a meal
of a live clam, one who has his shell locked shut
and will not willingly give up his innards for a gull's dinner.

If you are a gull, you have all this covered.

You put the clam in  your beak, and you
glide over above the nearest rock.

Then, you slow, bank, hover, and let go. 

You might have to do it more than once,
but sooner or later that clam
breaks, and your dinner is yours.
No chowder, no truck, no haggling, no clamcakes.

Just pure, sweet clam meat
there for a poke, a soar, and a drop or two.

Tell me, who has the better life??

21 March, 2012

the dancing drake

It's been outrageously warm here in Maine,
have you heard?

Temps in the 70s.  Shorts and short sleeve weather.
All the birds are singing their mating songs.
Pheromones abound.

I've been watching the ice go out of our pond for weeks.
There is a very thin layer only on about half the pond today.
Even the crows aren't landing there anymore.

The mallard drake and his wife have once again
taken up residence.
Can you see him kicking up his heels with joy?

(Actually, he is standing on a submerged thin ledge of ice,
grooming under his leg.

...Which is duck for kicking up his heels with joy.) 

14 March, 2012

dreaming of dingle

As we approach St. Paddy's Day,
I start to think fondly of the land of my ancestors.

Nine years ago, my friend asked me to spend a February week with her
in Ireland, where she and her husband
have a second home.

Here she is, below--out on the coast, in the wind:

We had a great time just being girls:
making simple meals, knitting,
 and soaking in the Irish beauty all around us.

We never left the Dingle peninsula, which is on the west coast of Ireland.

Here are some photos within walking distance of
their simple house by the sea.

Here are some photos of what it looks like
within an hour or so's drive.

And below is a frequent scene from "my" bedroom window,
which looks out on the Ring of Kerry.

Thank you, Pam.  For memories and images
to last a lifetime.
And for your lasting friendship.

Slante´ to all!

11 March, 2012

ice out!

We call it "Mud Season' here in Maine.

The frost starts to leave the ground.
The snow melts into the earth (though not so much this year--
due to the absence of snow).
Everything is squishy underfoot.

But here, that is mostly a good thing.
A welcome harbinger of winter's end.

Robins and Cardinals are back--the Robins in flocks
digging in said squish, looking for food;
The Cardinals at the top of trees, singing their hearts out--
looking for love.

Our rivers become unlocked.
On the bigger rivers, the Coast Guard sends ice-breaking ships
upstream to reduce the risk of ice jams and flooding
as snow and ice begin to melt.

Remember the ice fishing shanties of yesteryear?
They'd better be GONE by now.

In inlets on the shore, there are chunks of ice
that are losing shape and substance.

In many places near the coast, where the river water is 
a tiny bit salty from the daily tides pushing in,
the rivers are running free.

In some places they roar.

***    ***   ***

Meanwhile, back on land, where we all sort of squish as we go,
local roads can take a beating.

Just beneath the pavement is an ever shifting bed of wet earth.
 Potholes abound as pieces of asphalt let go.
Frost heaves appear as humps or dips across the road surface 
from shoulder to shoulder.
In these parts, you know they are coming because the road crews
spend March putting up signs along the roadside
that simply say, "BUMP".

Slowing your speed is a good idea in their vicinity
...if you value your car, that is.

Rural roads are the most susceptible to damage.
Therefore, my favorite harbinger of spring
appears in early March
as if dispersed by elves in the middle of the night.

My camera didn't pick up the fine print on the orange sign.
Without special permission, loads over a certain weight
are not permitted on rural roads until 
the ground solidifies again.

One fine morning, after a night-long serenade of peepers,
these orange signs will have completely disappeared.
(Same elves, same wonderful magic message.) 

But that is ahead of us by several weeks.

Happy Daylight Savings time, everyone!

03 March, 2012

saying hi

Just a quick hi from me.
I've been gone for a grandbaby fix, and now I'm back, 
readjusting to my normal reality.

Babies are cool.

I've been following you in your blogs, and enjoying your news.
Keeping up with a 20 month old adjusts one's day a bit, however.
So I haven't been very communicative lately.

There will be more from me in the days to come.
Just wanted to say hello,
that's all.