Sunday, April 26, 2009

What I saw on my walk

It was over 80 degrees here yesterday, and kind of muggy...the kind of weather you start expecting about two months from now, in late June, but not in late April. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. That shot of summer-like temperatures and sunshine went a long way toward melting those last piles of dirty snow left in the woods. (For those of you who do not live in Maine: yes, we do still have a bit of snow here and there, and yes, we do sometimes question the sanity of living in a place where there's apt to be snow on the ground a full six months of the year. Some lifelong Mainers go south for the winter, or part of it; they tend to get springtime amnesia, and arrive back, all tan and relaxed, around the first of April, acting stunned by the presence of dirty snowbanks and ice on the ponds, as if a lifetime of living here hasn't taught them anything.)

I'm pretty sure that last year at this time, the ice hadn't even gone out of North Pond yet (this year it went out on the 14th, a full week earlier than usual, and, if I remember right, two weeks earlier than last year).

Anyway, the camp road, where Remy and I have been walking almost every morning since the mud dried up enough to not suck my shoes off when I step in the soft spots, is suddenly positively bursting with signs of spring. There are buds on the moose maples (a.k.a. striped maples, which Wikipedia calls "an understory tree of cool, moist forests"--they grow everywhere down near the lake, and make great marshmallow-roasting sticks, fishing poles, and replacement tent poles, depending on their size), and pretty soon the buds will turn into wide, hand-shaped leaves that will completely change the way the camp road looks, from airy and open to cool, green, and tunnel-like.

Little green things were poking out of the ground all along the road, and in a couple of especially sunny spots, yellow violets were already in bloom. (I forgot to take a picture of them, but they looked just like these, so I "borrowed" this photo.)

When we got to camp, we found just one last patch of snow in the shady spot between the camp and the banking behind it. I remembered one year--I must have been about eight years old or so--when we came up to camp on Memorial Day weekend and found a patch of snow still hanging on, in the same place.

Remy had already been in swimming a few times since the ice went out, but yesterday was the first time it was hot enough for him to race right down to the lake and plunge in as soon as we got there. He found a ball on the porch and I threw it for him at least a dozen times.

His favorite thing to do after swimming is to get as dirty as possible again by rolling in dirt, hemlock needles, or anything else he can find that will stick to his wet fur. Silly old dog.
I was excited to see buds on the high-bush blueberry bush that grows right beside the lake (you can't really tell, but that's what I was trying to take a picture of here). That bush is at least as old as I am, and possibly a whole lot older, and as far as I know, it has never been tended, pruned, or fertilized. Every year we get enough blueberries to make muffins and pancakes quite a few times, and in a good year there will be enough for a pie or two. When I was very little, the first thing in the morning, my mother would give me a plastic mug with a handle and send me out, still in my pajamas, with the instructions, "If you'll pick me a cup of blueberries, I'll make some pancakes."

I saw two loons on the lake in front of the camp, but they dove before I could get my camera.

I saw a woodpecker, not a pileated, but just a little one (downy? hairy?), and heard several more tapping on trees in the woods.

I saw a kayak, a canoe, and a motorboat out on the lake, the first ones I've seen this year.

I saw neighbors at three other camps on our road, checking on things and starting the process of opening their camps for the season.

I saw a few mouse poops in our kitchen cupboards, but I didn't clean them out because it was 80 degrees outside the camp and 53 degrees inside. I swept the deck and played ball with Remy instead.

And when I got home, I found that the sun and warm temperatures had turned yesterday's buds into these:


  1. Oh man, I loved those blueberry muffins for breakfast at the camp. And sometimes a side of perch.

  2. Now is the perfect time to make moose maple whistles. Dad taught me how to make them. I thought they were the coolest things! Ask Steve how.

  3. I will be expecting blueberry pancakes when I come home (in less than a month), even though they'll have to be frozen berries this time of year. Or maybe, since I have a whole week and nothing to do, I will make them for YOU!