Quoddy Nature Notes – Notes on Holiday Traveling and Reminiscing

It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to travel to western Massachusetts on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but schedules were set in stone, and alternatives were inconceivable, so off we went. The storm had sort of overwhelmed the road crews, and travel on Route 9 was limited, especially for the semis trying to negotiate the up sides of the hills, and many of these hills were lined with truckers probably bemoaning their fate, and awaiting better conditions. We noted many minor accidents but by Kennebunk the storm conditions had abated and travel was simple the rest of the way, and we arrived safely at our destination only two and a half hours late. (The Wednesday before Thanksgiving brought a snowstorm that closed some roads and put vehicles into snowbanks.)

It’s interesting to be back at my old stomping grounds and note the changes. I found the stone dam in the little brook that my brother and I had built over 60 years ago. The dam was still OK but the little pond behind it had filled with gravel and pebbles that had come off the mountain. This was located a little outside the pasture but the remnants of the old barbwire fence we had strung were deeply buried in the trees that marked the boundary. No domestic animals had tested our efforts at containment for over a half century, and the Norway spruce that I had helped plant back in the 1940’s were pretty big trees. When they were first growing I remember the worms that often got into the leader of the main stem, but the trees are good timber size now. A small rectangular half acre that over the years grew sweet corn, sugar beets and finally tobacco (for my father’s personal use), was now in Red pine, and the little orchard of nondescript apples had disappeared except for a cherry tree that was being crowded out by the Red pine branches. I tapped on an old bird box hanging in the tree and out popped a flying squirrel and he hid behind the tree and waited for me to leave, which I did but not before taking his picture. Another bird house that I had put up years ago had a mouse nest on top of the bird’s nest. I gently poked the nest and out popped a white footed mouse. He tired of waiting for me to get out my camera, and went back inside. I carefully looked inside the nest and there he was all curled up. He let me touch him, and I felt his warm, rapid heartbeat, and then I left him in his house. Since I built the house in the first place I felt that I had landlord inspection privileges, but I later brought him down half a roll from my Thanksgiving dinner. Continuing my check of the old sod I found a Witch Hazel in bloom and wondered why the petals are so strange and why the whole reproductory cycle of Witch Hazel seems so out of sync with the rest of the trees and shrubs. We then did more exploring on one of our favorite spots by the Connecticut River where a line of bittersweet-ladened trees separated the river from a large meadow where corn and other crops were grown. The reward of our efforts was finding a big flock of sparrows, chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches, robins, bluebirds, blue jays and woodpeckers.

We entertained ourselves while traveling on the roads from Maine to Connecticut and back by noting stuff of nature and other miscellany. Our tally was: 15 Red-tailed hawks, mostly in Connecticut but a couple north of Augusta; 5 deer harvested by hunters and one hit by car; 32 Christmas trees on cars and 4 truckloads of Christmas trees. We returned the Sunday after Thanksgiving and, thankfully, only a small poplar was across our driveway. We did find an unwelcome hitch hiker; a deer tick. Undoubtedly, an omen of things to come. Hopefully, the ‘prophylactic dose to keep from getting Lyme disease’, which is a simple two pill treatment, is successful. I made sure the little bugger was dead before I took his picture.


  1. Tammy Morris says

    Very nice article!