Sunday, March 27, 2011

Playing Peek-a-Boo with Spring

Slowly but surely spring is arriving in Maine; plastic buckets hang on the maple trees in town (for those who boil their own syrup); crocuses appear in south facing gardens, snow shovels lean against walls rather than being stuck in banks.

My favorite sign of spring is the unseasonably warm day, especially on a slow afternoon, when I can promise to be in early the next day, or to stay late next time it rains, anything so long as I get out to the water.

And there aren’t too many choices, moving streams are running high, ideal for white water craft, but not for me, slower streams and ponds are still iced over. It’s the ocean and a short paddle, or the Penobscot River and a struggle with the current. Below Bangor, the Penobscot does not flood in the spring, but it flows quickly and the incoming tide less likely to reverse the current.

Our journey took us from Hamlin Marine in Hampden, up to the 395 bridge in Bangor. Over an hour to make it upriver and 20 minutes back. Along the way we saw an eagle, two beavers and a variety of gulls, mallards and mergansers.
Winged poodle in ice
Ice floes were captured on the shores of the outgoing tide, and spring melt revealed new beauty in the remaining white, sometimes delicate and lacy, other bulbous and solid.
Upstream on a rebuilt boom island
Note the new damage to the logs

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Ruins of Stockton Springs

We haven't gotten out much this March.  It seems like the few days I've had off are snowy, cold or include gale force winds.  But we did manage a short jaunt (with drysuits and PFDs) last Sunday, along the shore of Cape Jellison from Stockton Springs Harbor.  It was just a quick trip to Defense Point and back; a chance to delight in the salt air, try to reestablish a reasonable paddle stroke, and enjoy the calls of the long-tailed ducks. 
We rescued our first dead balloon of the season.

    And took a few pictures of the old pilings exposed by the ebb tide.  These are the ruins marked on the chart below, stretching in front a long stream of condos, and easily visible from the landing at Stockton Springs.

  As we paddled along, looking for just the right angle for a photo, I wondered, "What were these pilings, and why are there so many?"
  Luckily, we live in an age where all questions can be answered.  A search of Wikipedia provided this picture of the facilities when a long pier used to host schooners waiting to be filled with potatoes shipped by rail to the harbor.
Stockton Harbor 1906
  The facility burned in 1924, though traces remain.  More pictures of the harbor are available on the Wikipedia site.