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I Must be Crazy

Normally, I am the type of person who is pretty obsessed about finishing one project before beginning another, so what am I thinking to have 4 quilt projects going on at the same time! And if 4 assignments are not enough, I still need to attach a label to the comforter I finished in the spring. I must be crazy! Either that, or like a wooly caterpillar that puts on an extra layer of fuzz to predict a bad winter I am lining my nest with things to do during the inclement winter months. Just a theory.

So, how did this happen? I am currently still working on my Friendship Twist quilt. It is half-way through the hand quilting phase and I would like to get it off the quilt frame before the holiday guests arrive in December. But sitting in front of the frame one day, I thought about another donation quilt. Soon enough, I am in front of my fabric cabinet pulling out contenders for this gift. I am told that charities are very appreciative of receiving items geared towards boys, so out comes a dinosaur print and matching material.

In the meantime, knowing how annoyed I was to discover a black water ring on a bedroom night-table that was brand new, my husband has stripped and refinished the table. With this in mind, I pull some fabrics to create table mats for both guest room night-tables and a small display table near the living room. The guest room tables will be a light tan floral print surrounded by a green leafy material. Because these table are larger than the display stand, I will add borders on each side. These mats are currently assembled and I am in the hand quilting phase. I would like to have at least the covers for the guest rooms finished by Christmas.

A quilt blog that I read regularly, From My Carolina Home, just put up a quilt along pattern for the month of October. I am so excited by the colors and patterns for this Stars on Autumn Lane quilt that I pull some Artisan Landscape oranges from my stash to get started. I decide to reverse the background from light to dark and pull a green to compliment the oranges. I may call my project Autumn Stars.

My first task on the last three activities is to prewash the fabrics with color catchers and make sure they do not run. The place-mat fabrics are fine, but alas the greens for both the donation and autumn projects turn the color catchers green. In addition the brown fabric with interlocking squares and the black with stars for the dinosaur quilt also run. Fortunately, as mentioned in my Fabric Color Story, I have discovered Retayne which is a dye fixative. This does mean that I have to spend a morning treating these fabrics in the utility sink, then re-washing them in the machine with new color catcher sheets. To be on the safe side, I decide to save a step and just treat the Artisan Landscape orange fat quarters. As expected the sheets come clean in the next washing. I am now ready to cut pieces for the dinosaur and autumn quilt.

As I am telling an acquaintance about my one project at a time philosophy and going crazy with 4 (or 5 if you count the quilt that needs a label) simultaneous assignments, she stops me and says, “oh so you are now a quilter”. So with multiple works in progress for the first time in my life, I have finally become a quilter.

 

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Doyle Preserve

One morning in mid-September, I decided to head down towards Damariscotta to explore Doyle Preserve, a small trail system overlooking Pemaquid Pond. With the exception of driving past the dirt road turnoff and having to turn around, I found the directions to the preserve were pretty straight forward. As per the directions, I parked at the kiosk, walked down the road a bit past a private driveway and located the trailhead. My adventures were about to begin.

Not far into my forest walk, I noticed a log with some tiny white leaves scattered along the fallen limb. These leaves were so tiny and so white that I paused to study them more closely. Kneeling down for a closer look, I realized that they were not leaves at all, but small mushrooms. One even had the appearance of a butterfly, wings stretched out for a rest. I contemplated these for some time before moving on towards other discoveries.

Further on, I stopped to admire an erratic half covered with a black leafy typed fungus. The coloration of the rock, half black with the lichen and the bare side a pale shade of grey, reminded me of a whale leaping up from the ocean. It was an interesting image considering that I was in the middle of a forest.

As I strolled through the preserve, I realized that it was probably a good thing that I had not invited my exploration buddy along. Although the trail was well marked, the saplings on either side were close enough that the brushed against me as I passed by. There were also some sections were the path was almost hidden by the ferns that grew over the path.

But the biggest deterrent, was the number of times I had to step off trail and make by way through the woods and back to the path in order to avoid walking into a spider web. With the saplings so close to the footpath, these arachnids must have felt it was the perfect distance to set up shop. Looking back at the first one I encountered, I noticed not one but two giant webs across the trail. I was quite grateful that I had avoided this double whammy. I had to make a detour at least twice more to avoid walking into these almost invisible webs. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky near the end of the loop, noticing the delicate architecture just as I walked into it. After jumping up and down, dancing around and waving my hands all around for a bit, I concluded I had just completed about a week’s worth of aerobic exercise and moved on.

Prior to this final experience in the preserve, I reached the pond and strolled along the shore. There was a small island across from where I stood. With the rocks exposed between the island and the mainland, I could almost imagine that I could cross and explore the island but thought it wiser to observe it from afar rather than getting wet. Instead, I watched the numerous dragonflies playing along the beach before heading back into the woods. Spiders aside, it had been a wonderful day for new discoveries.

Failed attempt at Cameron

By the end of April, we had settled into a pattern of one very warm, humid day followed by a week of cold, rainy weather. When the last day of April promised to be that one sunny day for the foreseeable future, we decided to be a little bit more ambitious and attempt to summit Cameron Mountain. The Cameron Mountain trail-head is directly across from our favorite hiking route up Bald Rock Mountain and since the state park map indicated that this would be a moderate hike, we had no doubt that we would be able to make our way up the trail to the spur that would take us across the blueberry fields towards the summit. Unfortunately, we did not take in to account the humid weather or how our stamina had deteriorated after weeks of rain.

As we began our ascent up the Multi-use Trail, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of a new season. I stopped to examine some red flowers scattered along the side of the trail. It took us some time before we realized that these were the flowers shed by the surrounding maple trees prior to displaying the new leaves of the year. We paused to listen to the water running down the hills through the gullies on either side of the trail, while a wood thrush called in the distance.

When we reached the Cameron Mountain trail-head, we had to stop for a few minutes. We had done this portion of the trail many times, but on this particular day we seemed to have expended a great amount of effort to get this far. Still, we decided to soldier on. The trail took us downhill for a bit before taking a left-hand turn and leveling out.

Shortly after this turn, I spied movement in one of the nearby trees. I stopped and admired the meanderings of a black and white warbler as it made its way around the tree. I had always been told that to see warblers one must look high but this one was at eye level. It was a treat to have such a close up view of this interesting little bird. Further on we crossed a brook with a stone wall running alongside. The view was magical and it seemed like another good spot to rest.

We were both beginning to feel the effects of the humid conditions now, stopping repeatedly to regain the strength to go on. At one stopping point, I noticed how a broken spot on a twig of a tree looked like a “bird of paradise”. We went on looking for the spur towards the mountain, until I finally had to call it quits. The wood sign at the trail-head had indicated that the branch off for the mountain was about a mile from that point, but we had walked about a mile and found no evidence of the spur.

We were hot, exhausted and everything seemed to hurt. It was time to turn around. As we trudged back towards the Multi-use trail, we noticed that someone with a sense of humor had carved a smiley face into a stump, or perhaps it was meant as encouragement for the weary traveler. Once on the Multi-use trail, we sat on the foundation remains on the Bald Rock Mountain trail before heading back to the car. We will summit Cameron some day, hopefully later this summer.

Wonderland Trail – Acadia

Since WonderlandApr16.4the last day of April promised sunny weather with temperatures in the mid-50s, we jumped into the new car and decided to head north to Acadia. We planned an ambitious outing of 3 rambles but with an early start, figured we could do this. Oh, and it also happened to be the last day of the Maine quilt stores shop hop which occurs every April. Funny, but there just happened to be 3 quilt stores on Mount Desert Island. Now, I wonder who planned this outing.

We actually arrived at the first quilt shop in Trenton 20 minutes before opening time. Rather than WonderlandApr16.1wait for the store to open, I told my husband that we should continue to the second shop in Southwest Harbor but threatened that we must schedule our return trip home with enough time to reach this  venue before it closed at 5. After our brief stop to view fabrics (yes I did buy some fabric), we continued our journey towards the Wonderland Trail near Bass Harbor.

Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and the Wonderland Trail WonderlandApr16.2are located on the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island. The Wonderland Trail is a short, ½ mile walk that ends at a rocky beach near the ocean. We met a few families with small children as we rambled along the trail, so I would imagine that this trail could be quite crowded during the warmer months of the year.

A brochure, published by Natural Heritage Hikes, references Alice in Wonderland in the descriptions of natural mysteries that young visitors can explore along the trail. In fact, I found a fascinating hole at the base of a tree that must have been big enough for a rather large white rabbit to enter. Further along the road was the remains of a creepy looking tree that should have been in a WonderlandApr16.3dark, scary forest; perhaps another scene from Alice. I also stopped to admire a more magical scene leading off into the woods.

It wasn’t long before the gravel and dirt path turned to stone as we travelled through a section of pitch pines, twisted by the wind. Ropes on either side of the trail kept explorers from trampling an area that was undergoing restoration.  We continued our walk towards the water and soon reached a point where the trail followed the curve of the beach. We opted to spend a little time on the beach ledge exploring the tidal pools but finding only snail and barnacles, we returned to the path.

We ambled along the loop, never losing sight of the rocky shore. In a very short time we were back on the graveled road heading towards the parking area. An interesting walk, but after such a short walk we decided to head towards the nearby Ship Harbor Trail for further exploration.

Daylight Savings Time

Spring came early this year. The lake near our home was declared free of ice on March 11th, one of the earliest dates recorded for this event and BaldROckMar16.3there has been an explosion of crocuses in front of the local library. I knew that daylight savings time had been moved to the second Sunday in March about 10 years ago but it still seemed a bit early to be thinking of extra daylight, Spring and outdoor activities.

In honor of Daylight Savings Time, we decided to celebrate with a sunrise hike up Bald Rock Mountain. We dutifully set the alarm for 4:30 in order to be at the trail-head by 5:30, before blissfully settling down for the night. As morning approached, I awoke to the sound of another family member wandering around the house. Opening one eye, I glanced at my clock to see it was only 3:30 and tried to BaldRockMar16.2snuggle deeper into the blankets. Then I realized that I had not pushed my clock forward the night before. Since my husband’s clock was set for the alarm, I hoped that he had remembered Daylight Savings Time. I sat up, glanced at his timepiece and found that he had forgotten as well.

So, maybe a sunrise hike when there are too many time variables was not such a good idea. Although a little disoriented as a result of our time error, we still managed to get ready for our morning adventure. As we got into the car, a quick glance at the star filled night sky predicted an excellent sunrise. BaldROckMar16.4We arrived at the trail-head just 10 minutes behind schedule and were soon heading up the Multi-Use Trail.

I am not a big fan of hiking in the dark but I also did not want to miss the show, so I focused on the small circle of light from my headlamp and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. It was interesting how my perception of time and distance changed with the inability to make out where I was along the trail, for it seemed like it wasn’t long before someone mentioned that we were at the Bald Rock trail-head. I do believe that I would have just continued straight along the Multi-Use Road if I had not been informed of the turn-off.

We letBaldRockMar16.1 the younger members of the family go on ahead, while we slowed our pace for the incline of the new trail. We did have to stop once or twice as we made our way up the trail and I wondered if we would miss the show. Nearing our destination, the darkness was beginning to recede enough for us to turn off our headlamps and soon enough we were on the mountain top.

We sat in awe as the clouds took on a pink hue in the predawn light. Just before the sun started to break the horizon, the clouds reflected the morning sun and seemed to be on fire. Then slowly, the sun made its appearance, continuing one of the most inspiring displays that nature can offer. As difficult as it was to rise from bed before the sun, it was worth the journey.