North Woods Journal 9/27/2011


Musings As We Close Down


As we get ready to depart from this part of the country, we’ve been treated to several days of “Indian Summer” – temps in the high 70s during the day and not too cold at night (mid-50s to 60), with clear blue skies and very gentle breezes, some out of the north.  We can immediately tell which way the wind is blowing by looking out at the lake with its north-south orientation, and its prevailing wind directions.  Sometimes we are fooled by one blowing right at us out of the east, but this is rare.


As I’ve been working in the yard, I’ve noticed the sounds of different birds having settled in, such as the distinctive voices of chickadees that winter over.  As I’m not really a “birder,” I am not able to recognize most of them, but I will say that their combined chirping is a cheerful sound as I do less than cheerful work – taking out my garden, which is always a little sad, for that is the biggest signal to the end of my summer here.  Taking down hanging plants, stowing the “toys” and moving the grill, patio table and chairs also fall into that category.


And then there is “eat down.”  What crazy combinations of foods can you think of, if that is what is in the larder, and it has to be eaten or thrown?  Last night we had plenty of starch with potatoes and corn.  Tonight it may be homemade pesto (I had lots of basil!), green beans (we have had tons of those!) and salad with tomatoes and cukes from the garden (more than enough tomatoes!).  I just finished the last of my blueberries on oatmeal this morning.  Lunch tomorrow before departing for the airport should be VERY interesting!


Listen to the squawking din coming out of the sky!  Look up and see a group of Canadian geese, 150 or so in number, in their classic V formation (with one side of the V somewhat extended), flying south against a perfectly blue background.  It seems we have had more groups than usual fly over in the past couple of weeks, heading to warmer climes where they particularly like golf courses – watch your step!  A few days ago, a group set down on the lake briefly, and then took off again.


A last outing in the kayaks yesterday before stowing them for the winter was a real joy.  There was no one in the camps that we glided by, the water was calm and clear, the sun was shining brightly, and the sky was a most lovely blue with swaths of clouds streaking across it like a thin sheet in some places and puff balls in others.  And only one motor boat was seen/heard in the distance.  This is a particularly splendid time of the year up here!


As I am an ongoing advocate for mental health issues in Austin, I have recently become active about environmental issues up here.  The current governor of the state of Maine thinks that the state-wide body that regulates development in the north woods should be disbanded, with some aspects of it taken over by local or county governments.  This is problematic; most of these government entities are not equipped to deal with this, have vested interests in mind if they do (a larger tax base), and each entity making its own guidelines would lead to fragmented and, in some cases, lax regulations.  Believe me when I say that having one body making clear regulations applied state-wide without bias, but with individual situations taken into consideration, is best.  Here on our lake, a timber manager/developer who owns a large tract with shorefront would love to see the current regulations thrown out.  If he could develop unfettered, the character of this lake, and many like it in the north woods, would change dramatically.  Once lost, it can never be regained.  For several years, controversy has swirled around massive development plans on the largest lake in Maine, Moosehead.  So, advocate that I am, I have just written a letter to the “reform commission” expressing my viewpoint about the potential demise of this regulatory agency, know as LURC.  Let’s keep its good aspects and make improvements where necessary.


In any case, I am now leaving this fight to others as we fly back to Austin tomorrow, Wed., Sept. 28th