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Butterfly Gardens and Quilt Shops

Back in April, my daughter and I had participated in the annual Quilt Shop Hop. We had dutifully gotten our “passports” stamped at each shop we visited and mailed them off to the coordinator in May. This would allow us to take part in the drawing for various prizes based on the number of shops stamped on our card. Near the beginning of June, I received a letter from the Shop Hop coordinator that I had won one of the third place prizes. The down-side was that I had to go to the shop to pick it up which was a 2 hour ride from our home.

Since the shop just happened to be near Acadia National Park, we decided to make a day of it and found some moderate hiking trails nearby. We would visit the quilt store first (of course) and then head to the trails. I fully expected that when we got to the shop, I would be given a quilting tool or some fabric and we could go on our way, but when I got there I discovered that I could pick out $100 worth of anything in the store! Wow! This was going to take longer than I anticipated. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I circled the store multiple times, while I selected fabric. My husband encouraged me to go over the allotted amount and increase my stash saying that I always bought too little of what I needed. Imagine a spouse encouraging a quilter to buy more fabric! He really is a keeper. When I was done I had a wide piece of red fabric to back my current project, 3 yards of a blue fabric, 3 yards of a green “fossil fern” fabric and 2 cool red, orangey bundles of 10 fat quarters. Mission accomplished.

After we left the shop, we crossed the street towards the Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Garden. I had been told about this place by a friend who works at one of the campgrounds near Acadia. He mentioned that he and his wife would get coffee and just sit in the garden enjoying the views. The minute we stepped in the garden, I understood why they liked this little gem. The garden was small but I could just imagine the abundance of blooms and butterflies at the height of the summer, not to mention the benches situated with great view of the water.

We wandered around for a few minutes admiring the early Spring blossoms and the sculpture of a rather large caterpillar sitting on a boulder before continuing on towards the trail.

 

Great Salt Bay Farm

A hint of summer was in the air when I decided to head down to Damariscotta and explore the Great Salt Bay Farm. I arrived mid-morning and stood for a few minutes near the kiosk trying to locate the trail. From where I stood, I could see an expanse of lawn and a pond but no clear direction around the area. A gentleman finishing up his morning walk pointed the way and I was off.

The first section of the trail, took me through lush, green fields sprouting wild strawberry flowers, violets and dandelions. This area was also filled with bird song. I watched as birds flitted about, unable to identify any one of them but one bird did stand out. I spied a rather large black and white bird as it settled in the grass, flew a short distance and settled down again. After consulting my bird book, I was pretty certain that I spotted an Eastern Kingbird.

Reaching the top of a hill, I studied the area in all directions trying to determine where the mowed trail continued before heading downhill away from the water view. For a few minutes I wondered if I had made a mistake as I schlepped through a rather wet muddy area, but no, the path continued towards a wooded section of the property. When I thought about walking this area, I had decided since it would be flat, I would be okay with sneakers rather than boots but I soon discovered that I had made a poor choice since more than 50% of the area was wet.

Entering the woods, I found a blanket of the ubiquitous Canada Mayflower leaves, along with Wild Sarsaparilla. The ferns in this area had almost completely unfurled, although a few still displayed some artistic curls as they continued the unfolding process. I soon came to an area where several rough shelters had been erected around the trees. Here, I had to look around a bit to locate the continuation of the trail.

The path soon left the woods behind and led me near a marshy area of the farm. Not only did I have to cross a rather questionable bridge across the water, but, when I reached the other side I had to struggle a bit to climb up the eroded bank. Back on the grassy lane, I encountered two women coming from the opposite direction. We chatted a bit before one of them pointed out an osprey carrying a fish towards its nest. We watched its flight for a while before continuing on our respective journeys.

I made my way towards the point, where the women told me I would see the shell middens. I found this rather odd since I knew the large midden was on the opposite side of Route 1 but I headed towards the point anyway just to explore what was there. A few benches had been placed around the point for travelers to pause and watch the activity on the bay. A short distance further on, I spotted a patch of Red Columbine. Interestingly enough, they were growing in an area that was covered with shells.

Returning from the point, I walked the Chestnut Grove loop, passing underneath the osprey nest. It was getting warmer and I was getting tired, so I opted out of the Bay loop, continuing on the most direct trail towards the car. It had been a lovely hour of exploration but now I had fabric to buy for my next quilt project and needed to get on with that task.

Bowdoin Pines

By mid-April the snow was almost gone and I was ready for a road trip with my adventure buddy. April was also the month for the quilt shop hop in Maine. Although my friend did not quilt, she was willing to go along for the ride. If everything worked according to plan, we would also find a place where we could explore the outdoors.

With an agenda sketched out, we set off for the 2 hour ride to Freeport to visit our first quilt shop. There was one small glitch when we discovered that the store was not in its previous location but it wasn’t long before we arrived at the new destination, closer to the center of town. After admiring all the pretty fabric for a bit, we were off towards our next destination.

I had decided that it would be nice to walk around Bowdoin Pines in Brunswick. Having obtained descriptions and directions, I knew that there was parking behind the alumni house of Bowdoin College where we would find a kiosk with maps at the trail head. I found the parking area without any difficulties but there was no kiosk or anything else nearby to mark the trail head. At one end of the parking area, we found what looked like a trail leading through the woods. With a “what could go wrong” attitude we set off to explore the wooded area.

Walking through pine forests can be a bit tough as far as locating a trail is concerned since there is no undergrowth that would help distinquish a trail from the rest of the wooded area. Fortunately, the area probably received enough use from the college students that we could make out some kind of path through the trees. As we meandered along, my friend began collecting bird feathers (and there were a lot of them) while I focused on the pine trees themselves and the long runoff ditch beside us.

Eventually, we were forced to make a choice of ending our stroll at the back of a shopping center or crossing the railroad tracks and hoping the trail continued on the other side. Needless to say, we opted for crossing the tracks. Shortly after crossing the tracks, I found a few Skunk Cabbage in bloom. There was enough of them there that I found one that allowed me to study the green spiky ball inside the plant. After I took a picture, I stood up and looked around only to discover that I was surrounded by hundreds of Skunk Cabbage. It was another one of those moments when you finally see something and discover that that particular object is everywhere!

At some point the woods became increasingly wet, until the trail became impassable. We retraced our steps across the tracks and headed towards our next destination. Ultimately, we visited four quilt shops and a pine forest; a productive day indeed.

Dusting off the Snowshoes

The ericksonfeb17-2first free day after our week of snow, we grabbed our snowshoes and headed out to Erickson Field. In the parking field we met a man who had just returned to his car for his snowshoes, informing us that they were definitely needed in walking along the trail. Since we move at a slower pace, we let him getericksonfeb17-1 ahead of us before setting off.

A pretty stiff wind was blowing across the field, and it was interesting watching the winter weeds dancing in the breeze. A lone mullein plant stood tall above the rest. Continuing on our way, we found that our snowshoes were a necessity in negotiating the meadow, for there had been very little traffic along this route. This was surprising, since it was now several days after the snowstorm and mostericksonfeb17-3 people in the area do like their outdoor activities. But then, we entered the woods and discovered the trail was packed down by those who had hit the trail before us. Interesting! The snowfall had been light and fluffy, so the wind across the open spaces was strong enough to erase any trace of previous use.

Once in the woods, we meandered along the loop trail stopping now and then to admire the beauty of some snow covered scene. The man we had met in the parking field passed us twice and we commented about his speed. He did claim that his dog was setting the pace, so we didn’t feel too bad about our progress. I do think that we had the better experience by keeping a stride that allowed us the time to enjoy the beauty around us. It certainly allowedericksonfeb17-4 us to notice the snow-capped mushrooms climbing up the remains of a birch tree!

When we finished the wooded loop and came back out to the meadow, we found that our tracks had also been swept away by the breeze. We stopped once more to enjoy the remains of some wild plants visible above the snow before completing our first and possibly only snowshoe adventure this winter.

 

Finally Winter

Winter stormfeb17-1arrived the weekend before Valentine’s Day when the first of 3 storms descended upon us within the span of one week. It started with about 8 inches of snow on Monday, followed by another 6 on Wednesday and ended with a blizzard on Sunday.  By the end of that week, the final totals seemed to be about 18 to 24 inches of snow.

Between the first two storms, I watched our backyard inhabitants scurrying about as they prepared for the final storm. Small creatures stormfeb17-2travelled back and forth between the two woodpiles as they carried food to the various compartments within. I was amused by a squirrel who occasionally popped up from the snow as he tried to reach the seeds beneath the birdfeeder. During all of this activity, I wondered if the wildlife exhibited the same human tendencies to stock up on large quantities of food before a storm (what is it about bread stormfeb17-3and milk anyway?).

As the final storm approached, everyone hunkered down for the duration. From our own safe harbor, we watched the falling snow block our view of the street as the winds increased. At times the world seemed to disappear. During the times when the wind died down, I spied one poor Cardinal hunched down on the birdfeeder and wondered if this was an indication that the storm would soon be over.

While we waited for the blustery weather to move on, we thought about dusting off our snowshoes in anticipation of finally participating in some winter activities. The snow ended on Monday evening but the best part of such a snowfall was watching the sunlight illuminate the landscape as it climbed over the ridge.