Sea Blue Lens


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Scene & Story: June 2017

Summertime Fun

La Kermesse is a festival held near the end of June every year to celebrate our area’s Franco-Americaine heritage, and it always kicks off with a block party and fireworks. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a pretty extreme introvert. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like noise. I don’t like carnivals. But for some reason, I love the La Kermesse block party!

It’s early evening and the weather is perfect. People gather in the park to listen to music from live bands, line up to buy cotton candy and fried dough, shop for souvenirs, play carnival games, and ride carnival rides. As the evening progresses, several blocks of Main Street, where it crosses the river adjacent to the park, get blocked off. The flashing blue lights of the police cars at each end add to the festive atmosphere, and the street fills with people.

And what fascinating people! Amidst the “ordinary-looking” folks in casual clothing are Goth types all in black and spikes and tattoos. Muslim women looking cool and elegant in their long dresses and hijabs despite the heat. A girl with waist-length purple hair that exactly matches her ruffled camisole top. Babies in strollers and old ladies with walkers. Men with impressive facial hair, others with impressive muscles. Kids in t-shirts and shorts rolling down a grassy slope and running to the top to do it again.

I don’t know any of these people and never see them in my day-to-day life. I suspect that all these different “types” probably don’t normally see much of each other, either. But everyone gathered here seems happy. The crowd is in a good mood, polite, having fun, enjoying themselves. People smile at each other. I notice random acts of kindness. I chat with strangers.

The sun sets in a flare of copper-colored clouds and darkness descends, and we find a spot along the bridge to watch the fireworks. Anticipation grows until…finally…the first explosion and flash of color illuminates the night to appreciative “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. For the next 20 minutes, everyone is focused on the show in the sky, climaxed by the grand finale, a riot of color and noise.

And then it’s time to join the people streaming up the middle of the street, on our way home, back to our everyday lives. Tomorrow Main Street will be filled with the usual traffic, and I will be back to my usual introverted self. Until next year, when I’ll see you at La Kermesse!

Summertime Play (with Impresso app)

* * * * *

Click here for the Scene & Story link-up at Paisley Rain Boots.

**Scene & Story is a collaborative creation that Sarah Huizenga of Paisley Rain Boots and I dreamt up to encourage one another in our photography and writing. We’d love to have you join us! Just share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo. 


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Soul Food

Like everyone else I know, I’ve been grieving the results of Tuesday’s election. This post will have nothing to say about that, because I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been expressed by others…many others. This post is about what I did yesterday afternoon to distract and soothe myself.

I picked up my camera and I went for a walk.

fallen leafFallen Leaf

I followed the Saco Riverwalk, which begins just a few blocks from my apartment. To get there, I had to pass the covered bridge to the little park next door, where I paused to take the photo above.

fernNext I found this delicate fern growing out of a crack in the wall of a railroad overpass.

pathWhen I got to the river walk, the path was so leaf-strewn that it was barely visible. It’s narrow and slopes steeply down to the river’s edge, so I kept my eyes on where I was placing my feet.

daisy-boulderI came across a few wildflowers still blooming. This large, round boulder is a puzzle — it looks completely out of place atop the angular granite riverbank. I wondered how it got here.

rose hipsRosa Multiflora is a terribly invasive plant, and there’s a lot of it in this area. But it is beautiful! It’s covered in tiny white flowers in the summer and masses of small red hips in the fall and winter. I’ve read that they are edible, but I’ve never tried it.

twigsMany trees have already shed their leaves. You’d think those ones at the very tips of the branches would have been the first to go, but they are hanging on tenaciously.

benchA favorite resting place. I love this view to the neighboring town across the river.

birchesThis clump of birches is one of my favorite places to take selfies. Yes, I did get my phone out of my pocket and snapped a few. Not very successfully, though – it’s a windy spot, and I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face!

bare birchesAnd here are the tops of those birches. This makes me think of spatter painting.

oak leavesThere’s not much red left, so I was especially pleased to spot these oak leaves.

dsc_0989The river widens into a little bay here and the path curves left to follow it around.

bittersweetWith apologies to my friends who have to pay florists exorbitant prices for a bit of bittersweet — this stuff is everywhere.

wall of goldAnd here the trail swings back to the right…

power easement…to follow this power line easement.

chickadeeI don’t know what those tall, auburn-colored plants alongside the trail are, but they were filled with the rustling and twittering of small birds. I saw many chickadees, busy doing whatever chickadees do in the fall, calling out their cheery little “chickadee-dee-dee.” (This image is greatly cropped, since I didn’t have my tele lens with me.)

leaf carpetAt the top of the hill, more trees and so many leaves! I sat down in the middle of these for a while, just inhaling their delicious spicy scent. The river walk has turned away from the river now, and is circling back toward town.

yellow leavesFrom here, there’s just a glimpse of the water. The tide was out so the water level was very low. (The Saco River rises and falls with the ocean tides all the way to the center of town.)

red leafOne more surprise: a single scarlet leaf on a bright golden maple tree.

trail's endAnd that brings us to the trail’s end. Those steps on the left lead up to a small parking area, where I begin my zigzag path along the neighborhood streets and sidewalks toward home.

On the way home, I looked up and saw this:

crisscross cloudsCrisscross Clouds

And an hour or so later, the day’s final gift:

sunset viewFrom My Window

I needed that, so very much. I hope it has lifted you up a little bit, too.


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Muted Brilliance

Where I grew up, fall was welcomed for its cooler temperatures, but there was no spectacular visual display to mark the changing season. In those “long-ago” days, grocery stores sold pumpkins to carve for Halloween, but there weren’t the festive displays that are found everywhere now. Trees? Well, their leaves just turned brown and fell off. I didn’t know anything different. I’d seen pictures of New England autumns, but they were no more real to me than fairy tales.

Now I make my home in New England — and sometimes I do feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. The fall colors are so brilliant that it’s almost a relief when the leaves finally come down, leaving a more peaceful, monochromatic landscape.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all that color. It still amazes me every year, and I run around trying to photograph it all. But once in a while comes a day of fog and misty rain that transforms and softens the colorful world around me.

dsc_0889Rain on River

dsc_0893Wet Paint

img_3875Crystal Beads

img_1586Refreshed

dsc_0898Blue Dawn

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Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

~ Carl Sandburg


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Springing into Summer

Not only is winter over, but I have completely skipped spring here on the blog. Well, not completely, since officially the first day of summer is still a couple of weeks away. But around here, Memorial Day weekend is the real beginning of summer regardless of what the calendar says.

My daughter and I took advantage of the last week before that holiday to take a day trip to Ogunquit, a popular vacation destination that’s packed with visitors during the summer months. It was one of those idyllic days that linger in the memory long afterward.

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Wouldn’t you love to stay at this beautiful inn? I always like to imagine what places like this were like when they were private homes.

We browsed in a few shops, then enjoyed lunch at a new restaurant: delicious clam chowder and a Maine crab melt sandwich with Old Bay fries, the sandwich grilled to tender, crispy perfection and the fries offering a spicy counterpoint to the delicate crab.

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After lunch we strolled along Marginal Way, a popular path overlooking the ocean. On a midsummer weekend, you would not be able to see the pavement for the people!

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The blue-green sea softly melded into the sky at the horizon.

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The sun-warmed breeze was sweet with the scent of lilacs and wildflowers.

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Did you know that Mallard ducks will visit the ocean to bathe and feed? I had thought they were strictly freshwater birds. I was very surprised to see them paddling around in this tide pool.

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The sound of the waves mingled with birdsong and the quiet conversation and laughter of others out enjoying the day.

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There was even music!

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Who could ask for more?

We drove home tired but happy. It had been a perfect day. It was just a few hours, spent less than an hour’s drive from home, but it truly felt like a vacation. It reminded me of how little it takes to break out of my routine for a refreshing change, and how good it feels when I do. Here’s to more “Daycations”! *

* Credit goes to my friend Cathy H at Gramma’s Little Corner for introducing me to this delightful word.


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Winter’s Arrived

It felt like winter finally arrived on Friday, when we got almost ten inches of snow.

IMG_8804Snow Day Afternoon

One of the rules at my apartment building is that we must move our vehicles out of the parking lot by 8 a.m. on the day after a snowstorm, so the lot can be plowed. Saturday morning dawned: it was 7 degrees at 7 a.m. I filled my travel mug with hot coffee and headed out at 7:30 to do some shopping while I waited for the all-clear to go back into the lot.

The sky was blue, every twig was white, the air was crystalline. Do I want to spend this glorious morning at Walmart? No, I do not. Change of plan — let’s take the scenic route instead.

First, Laurel Hill. Is it strange that I love hanging out at this cemetery? It is always so beautiful and peaceful there, no matter the season. Yesterday was no exception. The only sounds were a faint hum from distant traffic, and the songs of a few birds who sounded as happy to be out as I was.

IMG_8810Into the Light

IMG_8816Where Daffodils Bloom

You may remember seeing photos of this view in the springtime, when thousands of blooming daffodils tumble down the hill almost to the water’s edge. The snowy hillside and icy river were just as stunning a sight.

IMG_8825Luminous

IMG_8820Etchings

RTFT7905Victorian Lace

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The angel-messenger waved goodbye as I drove on to see what was happening at the beach.

First, to Camp Ellis. Even after fifteen winters in Maine, I’m still enough of a California girl that a snow-covered beach feels like a very unnatural natural phenomenon. But isn’t it pretty?

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And on to Ocean Park, my favorite beach for walking. I was not the first, but I did have the beach to myself.

IMG_8849All Mine

ECZW0145Treasure Hunting

GHGC4871Sky Dancing

FCCB3981Up “The Creek”

PATD9302Sea Wall

EGUZ1585Blocked

The pathway to my “secret beach” was inaccessible, so I circled back to my car and that mug of coffee. By that time my fingers and toes were numb and the warmth of a store didn’t sound like such a bad idea. Off to do those errands!

Side note: While I wasn’t paying attention, WordPress has gone and changed everything, and I don’t like it one bit! It looks like they’ve tried to simplify things, but to me it feels more complicated than before. I can’t see half of what I’m doing, categories and tags have moved to the opposite side of the screen, and my sidebar has disappeared completely from the posting window. It’s much harder to format photos the way I want them. I feel like I’m starting from scratch with a completely new blog host. I’ll get used to it, but meanwhile, I’m not happy. And to think, I’ve been telling everyone lately how much I’ve always enjoyed blogging on WordPress…. Okay, rant over. Sorry about that!

 


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Springtime at Laurel Hill

You might remember that last October, during the peak of fall color, I took a photo walk in Laurel Hill Cemetery and wrote about it here.

Though I didn’t blog about it, I visited in January, too, when I had to climb a snowbank to capture this view:

P1040616Winter “Wonderland”

This week I went back to catch a bit of the glorious spring that we New Englanders waited for so patiently (or not!) during a very long winter. Now the trees are lacy with new leaves, and from the same spot, the view looks like this:

DSC_9123Spring Wonders

I’ve been here many times before to photograph the daffodil display in April and early May. In fact, I’d gone a few days earlier with my friend Susan. We talked about how, even though neither of us really needs any more daffodil photos, it seems a rite of spring, a sort of victory celebration, to go take them every year. Another winter has passed and we survived!

DSC_9054The Clearing

It’s so hard to cconvey the feeling of it — the sheer scope of whole hillsides covered in yellow and white blossoms. Or maybe it only seems so overwhelming because the world has been black and white and grey and cold for so long.

DSC_9078Magic Carpet Ride

DSC_9074Tree Hugger

Aside from the little guy above, there was no one else around, and so I wandered about, shooting more daffodils with my Nikon. (It’s hard to stop — they really are irresistible.) Then I made my way down to the bottom of the hill and saw them from an angle I’d never seen before.

DSC_9102Flow

I took this photo and a couple of panoramas, including the one in my header, with my iPhone. These feel like I’ve come closer than ever before to capturing that broad sweep of flowers against the background of river and trees that I’ve always wanted.

SpringFlowers_LHPatchwork

There are hundreds of thousands of bulbs here, and I’m sure there must be hundreds of varieties. And wildflowers, too. The mosaic above is only a small sampling.

IMG_1022Sweet Violets

Tearing myself away from the daffodils, I wandered among the old grave markers, marveling at the beauty everywhere I looked. Grass that was carpeted with colorful leaves last fall and blanketed with snow all winter is now sprinkled with violets.

gravestone flowersLove Still Blooms

Many graves are planted with beautiful spring bulbs and other flowers.

DSC_9119Not Forgotten

 Others have been decorated by Nature’s own hand.

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The crabapple trees were just on the verge of bursting into full bloom.

Laurel Hill Chapel 3SeasonsThere Is a Season….

Of course I had to stop by the chapel again, to marvel at how different it looks now from October and January.

DSC_9132Undressed

The building looks bare wearing only a tracery of vines without their customary covering of shiny, dark green leaves.

DSC_9136The Tower

Soon the tulips will be gone, the rhododendron will have bloomed, and those vines will hide the grey stone walls and try to cover the windows of the old chapel with leaves.

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I’ll leave you with a look down the same lane I closed with last autumn . . .

DSC_9017‘Til Next Time

. . . and one last peek at the daffodils as the sun goes down, a view that won’t come again for another year. The comfort is in knowing that it will come, no matter how long the seasons in between. The cycle goes on.

I love coming here in any season, for the solitude, the peace, and the natural beauty of this special place. I’m already planning to bring my camera back in full summer, when the trees will be in leaf and the grass filled out and deep green. I’m looking forward to seeing what surprises await me then.


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Out and About

I don’t like cold weather. I often think about going out, but when the thermometer registers below zero Fahrenheit, it’s really hard to get motivated to get outside and play. Nevertheless, inspired by Sarah’s Wanderlust Wednesdays post yesterday, I bundled up and ventured out to my favorite beach.

Oh, the difference a few months makes! In June, July, and August, the sand is covered with beach umbrellas, blankets, chairs, towels, and (of course) people. Hundreds of them. The only thing on the sand yesterday were shells left behind by the last high tide. I only saw one other person walking on the beach. The little village center was a veritable ghost town.

IMG_6945Dessert, Deserted

IMG_6941Apparition

IMG_6937Closed for the Season

IMG_6836Bright Spot

IMG_6837Summer Dreams

IMG_6866My Rocks

IMG_6859Goosefare Brook, High Tide

IMG_6862Where Waters Meet

When I got to this point, where the brook empties into the Atlantic, instead of turning back and retracing my steps along the beach as I usually do, I followed a path around the little bluff below to circle back along the road to my car.

IMG_6869Windswept

IMG_6870Future Sea Glass?

Beyond Wabi-sabiBeyond Wabi-sabi

Along the way I made a most surprising discovery! I found a short trail that led to a tiny, hidden beach I never knew existed.

IMG_6897Tucked Away

IMG_6899A Secret Place

IMG_6906Tranquility

I sat here in the quiet, feeling thankful for having found this beautiful place, until my hands and feet turned numb with cold.

IMG_6915Frozen

And then I went home . . .

DSC_6393Home Comforts

. . . thankful for this place, too, but so glad I went out. I plan to do it a lot more often.