Big Deal(s)…

Winter is a big deal in Maine. Like a boogeyman almost. Many times we’ve mentioned we’re new to Maine only to have people grow a little quieter and ask “Have you spent a winter here?” From some of the looks in their eyes you wonder if they’re thinking “Are these people going to go crazy? Or die? The poor fools!”

We’re trying our best to get ready for winter, but there’s just too much to do and we don’t have the expertise to complete (or even begin) everything that ideally would be done. We will finish the bare minimum, yet the spectre of winter still hangs over everything even as summer transitions to fall. In late August, even though we had highs into the 90s, colors began changing in the leaves as soon as the nighttime lows began to drop. Way to ramp up the pressure, Nature.

We have a hoop house skeleton built on our large bed, but not the two smaller ones (yet). Dani is on her third round of canning. We’re dabbling in seed saving. I’ve been prepping for my first foray into tree felling and chainsaw usage so I can take down and remove the dead trees before the snow does it for us and makes a mess. And every day with each outside task done or errand ran we see the leaves changing more and more. There are now streaks of red like flame in the otherwise green arboreal vistas around our place. There are leaves beginning to fall on our property.

Headed out to water the garden and found the first sign of its ultimate fate. #fall #ithasbegun #itwas91yesterday

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Very late on the night of Monday, September 21, 2015, we arrived in Maine after the hardest push of the whole Ambling Full Tilt journey: from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Dani’s parent’s place in Waldo. Driving through Vermont and New Hampshire that day was the first time I ever laid eyes on the fall colors of New England; I was spellbound.

The Saturday after we arrived Dani’s parents took us to the 39th Annual Common Ground Country Fair. We were among 65,000 visitors that descended on that tiny patch between Thorndike and Unity, Maine (where only 3,000 people live). This fair is a big deal, too.

Now as we close in on the one year anniversary of our AFT (and my first) visit to Maine, we are combing the pages of this year’s Common Ground fair guide making a plan to attend every workshop we can over the three days of the fair.  But this year we are not visitors. As we set up home in this small, out-of-the way rural Maine location, I turned 40. Common Ground is also tuning 40 this weekend. We get to celebrate that as Mainers. As residents.

One year later we have a home and the beginnings of a farm. Even though the home needs work and the beginnings are very humble, Dani recently said:

This year, for the first time, I went from saying “I want to…” to “I am…”

Humbled. Amazed. Profoundly grateful.

Better words could not be spoken.

We spent four weeks here last year. We saw the trees progress through all their autumnal splendor. As we left Maine we were sad to be departing the first place that felt like home since leaving Boise.

Now, one year later, we are entering into that same beloved season in that same beloved place. And it doesn’t just feel like home – it is home.

Humbled. Amazed. Profoundly grateful.

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Picture Pages – Volume …

Some recent shots from recent weeks in our new homeland. First up are some from Liberty and Camden, ME, where we went adventuring to celebrate Lance’s 40th a couple of weeks ago.

Playing Teddy's guitar at Liberty Craft Brewing / 8-28-16

Friendly bartender gives musical man his guitar to noodle on at musical man’s mate’s mere mention that he likes to play. *ting!*

Our Airbnb for Lance’s Annibirthary trip was an 1800’s farmhouse. He relaxed into nap mode pretty soon after we arrived, so I took advantage of the time and light to relax in my own way.

From the Floor to the Door

More fun with light and camera filter features from the floor.

sepia-door

Afternoon shadows and aged patina in sepia tone.

Patina

An interesting texture only years can achieve. I’d like to feel the same about my face filling up with lines.

textures-2

A study in textures.

Turn

How many hands?

textures-1

A study in color and texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My partner. Stalwart, supportive, smart, silly, and sexy. Ardent advocate of all my aspirations. Doer of the sad and dirty details around our place. Adventurous, appreciative, and amazing. I can never say or do enough when it comes to returning all that he gives me, but I’m trying my hardest. Meanwhile, he’s making 40 look good!

ss-cairn

Photographing the photographer photographing the “SS Cairn” on Mount Battie, Camden, ME / 8-29-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

peyote-buttons

On the last day of our trip for Lance’s Annibirthary we had to stop in to Liberty Tool Company where, among about a million other things, they apparently have drawers full of peyote buttons. 😉

The following shots are from the Labor Day party at our friend Dennis’ place / 9-3-16. A good time and a great view was had by all.

oinker

A pretty happy piggy.

mowing-by-draft-horse

Mowing the field with draft horses.

sun-flower

Sun. Flower.

wildflower-sunset

Wildflowers at dusk.

lines

Even the man made things can look lovely in the right light.

postcard-evening

Dusky hues just before the fireworks show.

 

 

 

A Change of Age – A Change of Season

It’s been a couple of weeks since we did an actual blog post. That was our anniversary of beginning the Ambling Full Tilt journey. What has happened since has included another anniversary of sorts; an “annibirthary” as Dani calls it.

I’m now 40. From the day before, to the birthday, to the day after I found I felt the same. I have always felt the same. Yet 40 is a big number; I remember as a little kid how I marveled that I would 24 In The Year 2000. How old that seems when you’re seven, ten or 12! But now all of us “bicentennial babies” – and the ’77 stragglers – are staring 40 in the face.

I’m happy! I still feel like I’m 18. But my body doesn’t feel that way. It aches. A lot. Old injuries (right wrist, right knee, lower back) constantly remind me that I’m not a teenager. But I’m having more fun than I ever did as a teenager, even if that means occasionally doing the military crawl in a pitch black crawl space with only inches of clearance, and more (now I know) porcupine droppings than you can shake a cobweb-swaddled yardstick at… Or pickaxing raised garden beds… or carrying endless loads of dirt and rock here and there… I haven’t even started the tree felling and bucking operation! Or the re-insulation of the attic. Or the excavation of the crawlspace – which is simply to prepare the way for re-insulating and re-sealing several floor bays that had water damage. They rotted and dropped the old sheathing like loading ramps so mice and every creepy crawly has direct access to our subfloor… oh and all that needs to get done before the weather turns to its legendary “Maine winter” state. There’s actually a LOT more that needs to happen before the winter than just those things, but they aren’t nearly as physically demanding.

In these ways the changes keep rolling; from age to season to activity.

I’m in far better shape at 40 than I was at 20 (and I wasn’t a complete slouch then). If that’s not common, it’s frequent enough. I feel good about that. But I do miss the 20-year-old body’s ability to recover! Yet I’ve met people approaching their mid-50s who make me look like an utter cream puff. I’m hoping I can age half as well. Working on a homestead sure seems to be a good way to achieve that fitness goal, though it’s probably not a very pragmatic choice for many middle-agers.

Excavating and working on the nether regions of our post-foundation home is the highest-priority task in front of me and a huge challenge physically. But it’s needed to secure our home for the long winter season. Mice and bugs have long had easy access to this place. We really try not to kill things, so biosecurity is the best way to prevent the need for lethal corrective measures.

This work for the change of seasons takes place in the midst of something we have mentioned several times, but only just recently came into focus: the squatter living downstairs…

Phil the Mentally Challenged Groundhog was who I blamed for everything that went awry on the property where digging animals are concerned. I saw Phil exactly twice. Midday, he was sneaking snacks from our container garden before we had finished construction of our raised beds. I chased him off our “deck” where the containers lived, but not before he had wreaked havoc on our peppers, eggplants and celery especially.

That first day I noticed he was sheltering under the shed. So I boarded up access to the foundation and have not seen him since. He may have been the digging culprit early on, but we had not seen direct evidence for him; retrospectively I am guessing he actually moved on. Since then we have been frequented by skunks, I’ve found scat that I think is raccoon and the other droppings that were everywhere, especially surrounding the giant den in the crawlspace under the den. Until we had caught the culprit I thought they were groundhog droppings. But no. We had a porcupine living under the house!

So today I begin the grand excavation of that space. Clear all the years of dung out, fill in the old burrow, clear travel space to every section of the crawlspace that needs attention (I estimate I have five yards of dirt and rock to move), and clear the work areas of spiders, construction refuse and debris. I get to do all this with no natural light, working entirely on my belly with just a tiny utility shovel and only a few inches of clearance between the bottom of the floor and the dirt.

It’s a job better suited to a 20 year old. But sometimes crappy jobs just need doing. Here’s to life keeping me from being too sedentary in my old age!