Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 25, 2009

I’m glad to report that all is well on The Cobb, after leaving work early on Thursday. The loons are looney, the squirrels are squirrely, the ospreys are osome (spelled awesome), and the turtles are sh(w)ell.

After a quick lunch and Sam Summer at The Depot, it felt good to escape from the ninety degree heat of town and just 15 minutes away melt onto my shady porch bed with windows open, and enjoy the steady breeze and the sounds of the marsh. Twenty minutes was all I could give it though cause I really wanted to get out on the stream, paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle, float, explore, soak up the sun and feel that Vitamin D pulsing through the body. We’d only been out 15 minutes before we were approached by an old CocoaCola canoe with a silent little electric motor containing none other than Eddie and Betty who’d come all the way down from Mary’s place near Collins Mill Dam.

Later we heard splashing and looked over to watch a pair of loons flapping their wings and doing mating dances with each other. And then they let out one of those long haunting loon calls that went on for so long, it even made me amorous.

Friday was spent on a longer paddle, down to the dam and back, gorgeous sunny day with all the usual suspects along the stream. Saturday I picked up seedlings at Harvey’s and filled my log planters, so it’s looking very colorful out here. Plus it looks like the heavy rain we got last night created a new bloom. Everything is so lush and green today. It was a hell of a downpour about 3 am with rolling thunder and impressive lightening witnessed from my porch bed.

I made a little hobbit house out of clay while listening to soft music with the peepers and assorted unidentified critters hooting, screeching, and whistling in the marsh. I seldom see turtles right here in our cove but this weekend there have been three of them hanging out here, both on the fallen limb in the water and the big rock 30 feet away.

A mommy and her six baby ducklings just took a paddle around the cove. They do love the duckweed; I can see why they call it that, instead of green slime . . . or something equally descriptive.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Camp Spiders - ewww

When I got to camp Thursday night there was a big ass spider sitting peacefully on the wall of my kitchen, next to the trash can. I’ve been phobic about spiders since I can remember. My mother was phobic, my grandmother, my sister, my cousins, my aunts. You sense a family trend here? A family’s conditioning, passed down and across generations. I suppose there are spiders that can poison you, but generally here in Maine, they are pretty innocuous. A non phobic person would just kind of ignore them and shoo them away if they got in the way. But a phobic person – or at least a person with phobia around spiders (I know the word but that word just brings up all these other images about stupid movies, it doesn’t apply to me, a rational and compassionate human being.) has to seek out and destroy the little monster.
I was bringing stuff in from the car and the only weapon I had within reach was a bottle of Stoli vodka. So I tried to squish him with the bottom of the bottle. Instead I just trapped him in the concave bottom, and with no other weapons at hand I eventually had to remove the bottle and he escaped and scurried behind the hutch.
This was no tiny spider. I’ve come to ignore or easily dispose of those. This guy was so big, his legs protruded out from under the edges of the stoli bottle.
I won’t describe the rest of my futile efforts to banish the spider. Yes futile. He’s still over there – someplace. He probably came and crawled all over me last night while I slept, or maybe he’s been huddled over there behind the hutch ever since he escaped the stoli crush.
I’ve tried to think of him like the cute little chameleons you see everywhere in Thailand. You just sort of say oh, aren’t they cute, with just a friendly warning to keep out of your personal space. And they’re pretty compliant.
The fact that I know how irrational it is to be phobic about spiders does help some; especially when I’m sitting here thinking about it. But at the very sight of a big spider like that I go into fight or flight mode – adrenaline rush and all. Conditioning. Grrr.
I believe if I could envision him and hold him in my mind, in all his hairy glory, for long enough, I think I would be able to decondition myself. I tried looking at pictures of spiders, but I couldn’t get over the aversion. They still creeped me out. Perhaps if I did it every day for a couple of minutes and studied them, trying to change my reaction from fear to curiosity.
I never did see him again all weekend though every time I walked by the trash can I scrutinized the area carefully. I’m hoping he found an escape route and he’s back out in the wild where he will remain. Camp is definitely not creepy crawly proof. There are a few small gaps in the floors and beside windows big enough to allow little crawly things to get in. So I sprayed the gaps I could find with a spider repellant which will, hopefully, discourage any more from coming to explore.
I didn’t let him ruin my first long weekend at camp. Friday morning I awoke to a pair of herons fishing next to shore.

I also got a photo of this little beauty - a red breasted grosbeak who was happy to pose for some pictures.
I enjoyed a couple hours of kayaking on Friday and a short paddle on Saturday. It rained pretty hard Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
I’m back home in Belgrade Lakes now, watching the sun start to set, sparkling off Long Pond, yet still missing the beauty and simplicity of my little one room camp at the marsh on Cobbossee Stream.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


My response to "What is meditation?" on the Krishnamurti Network today.

I’ve never had any formal training in meditation but I’ve read a little bit about it and have downloaded some short “meditation starters” so to speak – guides that help you to begin to clear your mind. That’s what I practiced meditation for originally – to clear my mind. A problem would have a hold on me and I couldn’t let go; thoughts about it would keep going round and round, endlessly, in my mind and no conclusions would present themselves, just round and round with the thoughts and me just completely unable to make the thoughts stop. Especially at night when trying to get to sleep; I would suffer hours of insomnia.

This is when I find my form of meditation to be healing. Being able to wipe the slate clean so to speak, get ALL thoughts out of my mind, especially this one that has a hold on me and won’t let me go. If I can achieve total shutdown for just a few moments even, then everything becomes clear. I’ve managed to break my mind out of that thought loop and often can see the answer clearly, or at least see that it isn’t the problem that I had imagined. When I meditate in this way, I do have a goal in mind so maybe this is something else, not really meditation. As I said, I’ve never had any formal meditation teacher or training but being a fairly pragmatic person, I’ve found this practice – whatever it may be called – helpful on many occasions.

There’s another type of “meditation” I like to practice, especially in my current location – my rather primitive camp on a marsh/stream here in Maine. Sitting comfortably by the stream, I’ll just close my eyes and try to become completely present, listening to the multitude of sounds emanating from my surroundings: the pair of loons sitting out front that continually give a short hoot back and forth to each other with the occasional long melancholy howl, the dozen or so bird calls that I don’t try to identify but just hear, the bullfrogs talking back and forth to each other, the red squirrels chattering away, and even the faint sound of a distant plane overhead. Sitting here with my eyes shut this morning and meditating (if that’s what it is) and absorbing the sounds and smells of the marsh, when I opened my eyes, there sat before me about 20 feet away, a little muskrat. I often see him as dusk swimming busily around the marsh doing his work, but I’ve never seen him in the morning, nor that close to me. But it didn’t surprise me to see him there when I opened my eyes. I was so in tune with the marsh that it seemed completely natural that he would be there. We sat there looking at each other for a moment, I smiled in the pure delight of the moment and I guess he decided his break was over and turned and slipped back into the water and glided off. That’s kind of what meditation is to me, the practice of connecting with the moment. The result sometimes is greater clarity and great creativity. After meditating, I grabbed my djembe and starting a light rhythmic drumming, feeling one with the marsh and wanting to offer a contribution. The drumming didn’t scare any of the critters away; in fact I felt it actually drew them toward me. The little red squirrels chattered at me, the osprey whistled overhead and the loons whooped their lovely calls. There was a downy woodpecker, 3 goldfinch, and a nuthatch, all sharing the same birdfeeder.

The moment reminds me of my Facebook update I wrote last week: “I delight in the complex beauty of the marsh as I bend to light a stick of incense in my altar to the universe.”

Was that moment meditation as well? Or is none of this meditation?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring is here

Today is May 1st – May Day! Means different things to different people but I remember when I was young it was a big deal to hang May Baskets on people. We’d have a basket and decorate it with flowers and fill it with goodies, put it on someone’s doorstep, ring the doorbell and run away. We’d hide where we could see the person come to the door, see their confusion first that no one was there, and then see them smile and delight at the pretty little basket filled with goodies. I don’t think people hang May Baskets anymore.

I haven’t written much lately. Now that spring is here I’ve been going to camp and cleaning up winter’s ravages, and spending some time out in my kayak. Last weekend Rick and I were paddling around the stream and were serenaded by a symphony of bullfrogs and loons. At dusk our little muskrat, Edmund (named after Maine’s former Senator Edmund Muskie) can be seen busily swimming back and forth tending to his duties. There were over a hundred ducks on the stream one day a couple weeks ago and from the splashing sounds coming from deep within the marsh it sounds like a couple of them may have decided to nest in there. Cobby, our beautiful black and white kittie with double front paws, returned to visit last weekend. I still haven’t figured out who he belongs to but he seems well cared for.

Kerri and Gilli spent the night at camp early this week and Betty stayed there last night after our Hallowell outing. I’m hoping Rick and I will get out there tomorrow night as it looks like it will be a good kayaking day on Sunday. We knocked one of the kayaks off the car as we were unloading them last weekend and broke my side view mirror off. $265 for just the mirror! When I put in a claim for insurance they were able to find a used mirror and negotiate the price for painting and installing it down to just $180, so it saved me $70 and cost them nothing as the cost is under my deductible. Fine, I don’t mind saving some money.

The drama continues with our shared beach lot here in Belgrade Lakes. The douchbag who owns the lot has finished clear cutting all the trees and brush and brought in some heavy equipment last weekend and graded the whole thing, took our our access road, and installed a lawn. Now the runoff that used to be absorbed by the vegetation will flow directly into the lake, taking all the pesticides from his lawn with it. The good ole boys from DEP and Code Enforcement just give him an attaboy. Groan.

Today we’re off to buy a riding lawnmower. We were paying $50 a whack to have the lawn done last year and figure we can pay for the mower within two years. John Deer, 18 hp. Zoom Zoom.