You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Maine’ tag.

Around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, I finally shut off the tablet and the light to go to sleep, when –as if on cue, an otherworldly howl shuddered through the woods. It was a lonely howl, unanswered. Usually the dogs of the neighborhood call to one another late at night. I worry about them since it’s getting colder and I wonder why their owners let (or make) their dogs stay outside all night. But this particular howl wasn’t dog-like, or wolf-like, or like any coyote I’d ever heard either. It was a mix of canine and human-like cries. Logically, I told myself it could be an animal in the throes of death, in the clutches of another animal, and those encounters can bring about strangely horrific sounds. Deer also make strange noises during rutting season – but it’s not the right time of year and it was only one howl, not likely a deer. I ruled out fisher, too, since it didn’t sound like a woman being murdered.

MTV’s Teen Wolf

My mind was full of inventive possibilities since I’d just finished watching the first season of MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” which is excellent. Season 2 is terrific, too, and I look forward to the third installment of the series, which is supposed to have 24 episodes. I liked the mix of settings from the woods to the lacrosse field to the classroom. It picks up on the same premise as the 1980s classic with Michael J. Fox, a movie I adored as a kid, but MTV put a slick modern spin on the story line: hunters, ancient mythology, werewolf packs. As much as I respect a girl who knows how to use a cross-bow, I had to hand it to Holland Roden, the actress who plays Lydia Martin, a redheaded popular girl, who is highly intelligent (perfect grades, leadership skills, on the path to winning a Fields Medal someday) teen-ager who plays dumb strategically. Roden’s portrayal of that complex character is refreshingly original. She’s sort of like a “Mean Girl” who gets a supernatural makeover and reveals herself to be much deeper than anyone guessed.

Holland Roden as Lydia

I think what I like best about Lydia’s character is that she reminds me of my friend, Jodie, in appearance and creative style. Jodie and I have the same birthday, and as Pisceans, we’re idealists. Lydia seems like an idealist, too, and romanticizes her relationship with her beau, Jackson, who goes through a bit of a monstrous metamorphosis, with many, many manifestations. Good thing Lydia knows archaic Latin and sees his true colors (even though he is a snake at times, quite literally!) The show is great -but if you can’t handle suspense or supernatural horror/violence, then pass on this one. This show beats the Twilight series in a number of categories, one being werewolf fights. Well choreographed! The plot is 10x more compelling in “Teen Wolf” than in many other supernatural series on screen today. Two thumbs up!

Then this morning around 6 a.m., a large dark animal crept over the stone wall in my backyard. It moved stealthily. It was bigger than a dog, even the German Shepherds on either side of my house, and stayed low to the stone wall, creeping like a cat. My dog went bananas, throwing herself at the door. My cats peered out the window. Everyone seemed to buzz with excitement. I guessed it to be the bobcat that shows up in my backyard every winter–only this year she/he is early. My cats seemed to run from window to window, taunting my dog: “the bobcat’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble, hey now, hey now, the bobcat’s back!” I waited a while before I took my dog out on her leash so she could sniff around. I could tell by my dog’s tail that the bobcat was long gone.

Tonight on my way home, after dark, the headlights of the Subaru flashed a pair of glowing eyes in a dark shape moving across the road. It looked like a very big black dog. It didn’t have a collar – at least not one that was visible – and it walked in an awkward way, its shoulders pronounced and protruding above and behind its head. It stopped on the side of the road and turned to face my car, as I slowly drove past, thinking it was a neighbor’s dog out too late, unattended. No houses or people walking nearby, no driveways around. I hope–if it was someone’s dog–that it got home alright. On the other hand, a part of me wondered if it was a stray, a lost dog or a wild dog. This area has been known for wild dogs for over 60 years, though there hasn’t been a large pack since the 1950s, according to the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife guys I asked two years ago. Around here, there is an unspoken understanding among hunters, too, that if they see an animal they believe is a “wild dog,” they’re allowed to shoot it, even if it turns out to be someone’s pet. That’s the part of the culture and deeply-embedded mythology of this place that’s real, not fiction. It’s what people believe, and what their fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, told them as children to believe. There may not be werewolves around here, but the hunters believe in wild dogs. And they walk right through my woods at Nixie’s Vale.

My workout today:

After a couple of hours spent stacking wood, I had barely made a dent in the pile. My trusty pointer-dachshund hunted for chipmunks, which have been hiding in the woodpile for the past month. Stacking a cord of wood by myself is a labor of love. I say that because I love the warmth of a fire in my woodstove, which is very efficient–and brings my upstairs rooms to a toasty 80 degrees on a cold wintry night. Sophie-Bea and I took a lunch break and then got back to work on the pile. I’m stacking some of it inside my garage but most of it goes under the shed roof. An aggressive army of wasps had constructed a formidable paper nest with six levels–about the diameter of half a tennis racket but overall, slightly smaller than a football. I had to wait until a chilly night to move the nest to another location on my land, far away from the wood pile, after getting stung a few times.

Progress…

Yesterday we followed the sound of a loud buzz saw down to the pond. I figured someone was  cutting firewood only to find it was not a chainsaw but a remote control speed boat racing around like something out of “The Rescuers.” My first thought: “Evinrude,” the dragonfly that transported the mice, Bernard and Bianca, through the swamp; it’s also the brand of outboard motor on my grandfather’s boat at the lake. I could see the red toy speedboat zipping around the otherwise quiet pond. Its battery-operated motor emitted an annoying high pitch noise like a swarm of insects. I like dragonflies…but not mosquitoes.

On the causeway

Before I could visually match the buzz to the little boat, I was nervous about what I was walking into–locusts? Usually the pond is a scene of serenity, not fecundity. I walked with the dog, who looked bothered by the buzzing boat, and finally spotted a grown man standing on his dock, operating a remote-control device.  Not a kid. An adult. I walked down to the causeway that connects a tiny two-acre island to the mainland and sat down on the edge, where I had a clear view of the toy speedboat. It did laps. It circled around at warp speed. Fish jumped. I half expected to see a bass take it down–a comical reverse “Jaws” scene, or again, something out of “The Rescuers,” maybe an alligator.

When my brother and I were little, we had “The Rescuers” board game (1977). Players moved around the board, decorated like a swamp, and faced off the villains: two alligators, a hip-swiveling southern woman named Medusa, and her nerdy spectacled-sidekick Mr. Spooks. Tad and I turned over cards to see which villain crossed our path as we embarked on an imaginary adventure as two heroic mice. I LOVED this game. Of course, we had the books, the game, the record. Long before we had movies on VHS, we listened to stories on the record player.

The battery on the toy speedboat died suddenly, lurching the little boat to a stop in the middle of the pond. My dog watched with concern. A slow-moving paddleboat turned toward the direction of the now-sinking red remote-control boat. Its operator paddled over in a kayak and met up with the people on the paddleboat–and the three of them talked about their collections of toy speedboats, ideal rechargeable batteries and other dilemmas. I thought, “this is a thing?” I guess this is a thing.

Today the pond, serene as usual, smelled of crisp fall leaves. Orange, red and yellow leaves floated as if on a current, racing under the causeway bridge. Yesterday I watched dozens of little fish swimming and jumping–but today I saw none. Evinrude and the Rescue Aid Society must have been charging through the marshgrass somewhere. No sign of them today.

Living next a pond–even though I don’t have direct water access–feels rejuvenating. I really feel blessed getting to drink all of this in, metaphorically speaking.

The pond beyond my backyard

Fern Gully in early spring

A few years ago, I bought a cottage on a small lot of land near a pond. It looked like a good place to live and write. I was 32 and writing about wetlands for a nonprofit organization. During my first few months, a rainy Maine summer, I fell deeply in love with my new environment. Ferns unfurled, like fingers from clenched fists, and everything gave sway to the unrelenting rains. My little four-acre refuge soaked up the water without flooding my basement. It did a job: the land, freckled with ferny wetlands—a seep, a vernal pool and a perennial stream flowed into the pond, all diverting the floodwaters. Sunlight reflected off the pond in the mornings, bouncing through the trees and in through my windows. Rays off the pond showered mirrors and walls with shapes of light like sunfish swimming from one room to another. This seemed magical to me since I didn’t have a water view or access to the pond from my property directly, but the water still made its way to me. From my upstairs windows, I looked down into a woodsy glen, a bird-haunted haven for deer, fox and porcupine. Though I’ve never been much of a fan of amphibians, I became intimately connected with the daily lives of endangered wood frogs, crawling out of the vernal pool in my woods each spring, passing by the gang of poisonous toads that lived under my deck. Their transformative life cycles and dark-throated hunger for resilience impressed me—I became obsessed and passionate about their survival. I also swam with loons here—on a regular basis, to the point where I became known as a “loon lady” in the neighborhood. I discovered rare butterflies and hummingbirds also thrived here—as would I.

Virginia Woolf’s line, “Five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate…a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself,” resonates with me. I come from a long line of women’s suffrage and a firm belief in female empowerment.  Many of my literary heroines, Virginia Woolf and Beatrix Potter, for example, wrote at a time when women were not encouraged to think for themselves, let alone express their ideas in writing.  I grew up in a Victorian family a century after-the-fact; I came of age in Victorian homes, and quite literally, one of my childhood bedrooms was in a tower. My perception of what I could do and could not do as a girl was not metaphorical; I sometimes locked myself in a walk-in closet for some privacy to write in my journal and there was nothing proverbial about having a tower bedroom as a pre-teen girl with long blond hair. A locket of my grandmother’s, that I wear around my neck, her initials dented into the back of it, reminds me of my ancestry, my heritage. I was born into the oldest women’s organization in the country: the Female Charitable Society provided education funds to young women. (I’m also a descendant of Erastus Foote, Maine’s first attorney general, born 200 years before me, and I grew up in his house, the Wood-Foote House in Wiscasset, where the FCS formed its first chapter and held its meetings at my grandmother’s house.)

The Wood-Foote House belonged to my family for 200 years

In my thirties, I mentored young women, twenty-somethings who wanted to go to college. I designed a college transitions class and inspired “success stories” among my students, helping them to build self-confidence and to see their own potential. I think I inherited that trait—to help others come out of their shell—from my grandmother.

The power to think for oneself strengthens a woman’s ability to listen to her own voice, her intuition and to trust that her memory is valid. It takes courage to see the truth and relevance in one’s own perception without constantly having to temper that narrative in a socially correct way based on outside influences—parents, employers, teachers and authority figures. For me, the power to think for oneself drives the ambition to command my voice, rather than to quiet it. This power to think for myself is a motivating force, a true north by which I navigate with an inner compass and conquer private fears of getting lost in a wilderness of my own making.

Nixie’s Vale

Two weeks ago I fell into a wetland. I slipped on a slimy rock as I snapped a photo of yellow waterlilies. I caught myself, in that acrobatic way that looks cartoon-like (if anyone was watching from afar) more concerned about dropping my camera into the water. Like any good fall, I only fell up to my knee, and managed to keep my flip flop.

ImageThe day drizzled on beautifully after that. I hiked Rattlesnake Mountain with the dog, swam in the lake and joined friends in Portland for dinner at Flatbreads. Then…if by some stroke of dumb luck, I came down with a painful summer flu, but didn’t know it. I thought I’d eaten a bad avocado (I blamed that new “slim low-cal” version at the grocery store, which tasted rancid, worse than my attempts at grad school cupcakes circa 2003) and yet, I was passing blame onto the wrong cause. I had been swimming in a lake where there’d been an algal bloom a couple of weeks prior, so that was a possibility.

Globs of algae the size of human heads floated around like something out of a paranormal dream sequence from MacBeth or one of those B-movies on MST3K. It was unnerving to bump into one of them. “Oh, excuse me,” I’m urged to say half underwater before realizing it was just another alien life-form touching me. “Oh, that.” I can handle swimming with eels, treading water against the current and having the occasional gastropod latch onto one’s foot…but I find it unnerving to swim with severed head-shaped algae pods. All of these images came to mind as I suffered through a fever of 102 degrees for 2 days last week. On Tuesday night, I called 911 and the EMTs came to my house, since I was convinced I was dying of some kind of poison, or tetanus (I can’t honestly recall when I had my last shot) or some other ill fate. It felt like my organs had seized up and everything hurt (like one of those “depression hurts; you don’t have to” commercials, only I wasn’t walking around with a cartoon cloud over my head.) In fact, I could barely walk. I crawled down my stairs to unlock the door for the EMTs. I didn’t want them to have to bust in the door. (I already have a lot of home improvement projects on my to-do list for summer 2012. I didn’t want to add “replace busted door from night I nearly died of Mystery Disease” to the list.) When the EMTs came into my kitchen, including the local doctor and fire marshall, I was reminded of an episode of “Doc Martin,” or a similar British medical comedy. Truly, a high fever can make a person delirious, so I was not of sound mind at the time. My sense of humor had gone out the window. But I didn’t die.

It is possible that I had contracted a disease related to Lyme disease, called anaplasmosis, which is more common in Maine than it was a few years ago. Its symptoms mimic a summer flu with a high fever, painful body aches and headache, etc. It can be serious, even fatal, in people with weakened immune systems.  A few days later, after the fever and the painful flu symptoms had subsided, and I was recovering on a blanket in the backyard, a shady spot in the grass, I looked up at the trees blowing ’round in the breeze. I remembered reading an article about patients who have views of trees recovering faster than those with views of brick walls. I thought, “I’m surrounded by trees. I should recover in no time!” My dog behaved well enough and liked this business of outdoor resting, guarding me closely while I was weak.  Fresh June hot air, hot enough to singe the wingtips of dragonflies, landing again and again on the same grass blade (their checkpoint) a few inches from my face, filled my lungs and all of the hollow spaces that illness creates.  I wrote under the influence of summer flu, and napped in the yard under bird song and a deep impenetrable blue sky.

Every now and then I catch a NATURE special featuring the weird mating rituals of some animal, like the koala in “Cracking the Koala Code” or mountain lions or prairie voles. I’ve already written plenty (far too much) about prairie voles, and that whole chemistry topic is nothing new. What I’m interested in is this topic of “dating down” that I keep seeing in blogs, or *gasp* crappy dating advice from over-eager dating coaches, who even encourage this twirpy and negative spin on dating. We all know what “dating down” means…in the usual context, it makes me think of some line from “Dirty Dancing” when the arrogant waiter tells Baby it’s okay if she’s “slummin’ it. We all do that sometimes, Baby.” (She was in love, dammit! And Johnny Castle aka Patrick Swayze was a stand-up guy.)

Osprey at Wolf’s Neck Farm. Terry Chick photo.

But I got thinking of another way to read the “dating down” concept:  what if it’s down to the bones of the dating rituals, or more accurately, the mating rituals. What it’s really about is dating down to the animal within us. When I was a kid, I was pretty sure that I was part fish and part otter, full of fur and snout and salt water. (My mother affectionately referred to me as her little raccoon, or otter, because I washed my seafood before eating it.) My dad’s a Grizzly Adams-Dirty Harry cross, and in my dreams, he sometimes appeared beside a bear, or AS a bear himself. I realized I was raised by some kind of bear-man, who identified himself as a lone wolf, and now I see him as part-wolf, part-bear, and still part Dirty Harry. My mother always said that the osprey was her totem animal, and she was always a bird-mom, in the best and worst possible ways, feeding us hors d’oeuvres and making nests for us, wherever we moved, which was often, circling in the same general territory, never straying too far from the Sheepscot River in midcoast Maine.  Our family land, now a Chewonki Preserve, has had an eagle’s nest for many years, along with osprey nests, and I grew up with a strong sense of responsibility in protecting our heritage and the wild things that depended on our land ethic.

One day when I was a teen-ager, a mountain lion showed up in our backyard, close to the Sheepscot River. I made sure that my cat was inside the house and together, my cat and I watched the mountain lion creep over the stone wall terraces like a duchess descending a grand staircase. She was well-camouflaged against a meadow of lilies, a strong tawny blonde, and purposeful in her movements. I never forgot her. Over the years, I have grown to accept that I transformed, at puberty, from part-otter part-fish girl into a part-otter part-mountain-lioness and as daughter of an osprey-woman and a wolf-man, I have those animal traits, too. (If you’ve seen “LadyHawke,” then you can picture what I’m talking about.) I am protective and territorial of the land that I nurture and call home; I move through each day with purpose but I don’t show off, surrounded by the lakes and natural beauty. Yet I am still playful and never lose my sense of wonder, or love for the water.  

A female mountain lioness stakes out her territory, and then allows some males to approach. Most of the males are chased away, mauled and intimidated into submission, but a couple will remain, to tough it out. They compete for her affections, but it’s really more about chemistry—as she picks the mate no matter who wins the battle for dominance between the toms. It’s up to her, ultimately. Then after she mates with the tom, he’s allowed to stick around. This is a pretty big deal since mountain lions are not like lions in Africa—with a whole pride. And dare I mention kinky otter sex? That’s probably better left up to the imagination. Otter sex is not for the faint-of-heart, lemme tell you. Only Scorpios could really even imagine going there as it’s worse than shark BDSM. Ask a marine biologist. I’m not at liberty to say.

So what’s the take-away from this post? Date down, you might be disappointed. Date down to the animal, you might find the right mate, someone who echoes your instincts and brand of wildness. Or you might get mauled.

My little green pok-a-dot slip-ons squished through emerald moss as I walked my dog, Sophie-Bea, down through the field at Hacker’s Hill. Usually the grass is tall and provides a hiding place, my favorite sitting spot, on a flat granite ledge.  But today the grass was cropped short, freshly mowed this spring, and everything was wet and smelled earthy. Little brown mud spots speckled my bare calves, adding to my freckles. I wore a dark green cotton dress that came down to my knees with three-quarter sleeves, something that looks like a more figure-flattering version of what my Gramma used to wear around the house on days when she didn’t plan on going anywhere. Anyway, it’s comfortable. We got to the ledge and I un-hooked my dog’s leash so she could sniff around while I perched on the warm flat rock in the sunshine. It was a mild afternoon — 66 degrees F — sunny with a breeze. The panoramic view of the lakes region is pretty in a few directions, except for the three cell phone towers up there, so I like to face the side that opens up in a valley between two mountains. Sophie-Bea stayed close by but sniffed around, hopping through the wet meadow as if she didn’t want her feet to get soiled (hardly her M.O. in reality) until she caught the scent of turkeys. Luckily, we didn’t see any, but the highlight of her day was finding some turkey scat, and rolling in it. Ahh, for the love of dogs. 

 We left Hacker’s Hill and drove the long way home, stopping at a little beach on Crescent Lake, where another couple were throwing a stick for a very large black lab named Ben. I got out and asked, “My dog’s friendly, is your dog friendly, too?” They said, “Too friendly!” They were right. Sophie-Bea and Ben chased each other and played. He nosed her rear and got frisky, and she didn’t exactly snip at him. (Both dogs are spayed/neutered. It was all just for show.) The two dogs waded and splashed in the chilly lake. I was glad to see this because my dog is still getting over a fear of swimming with other dogs since that traumatic incident with the other dog summer 2010, when she nearly drowned under the weight of the other dog. Last summer, 2011, she improved but was still not crazy about swimming with other dogs, and certainly not black labs. So I consider this wonderful progress. 

Last night I read my Pisces February 2012 horoscope by Susan Miller  – my new favorite astrologer – and I was thrilled to read that as of February 3rd, Neptune has moved into the sign of Pisces (my sun sign) for the first time in 165 years. The last time was during the Victorian age, when the Romantics were popular in art, literature, poetry and culture. I blogged about the Romantics in my Strange Wetlands post about Romantic Ecology, with which I have always identified. I grew up reading the Romantics and Victorian gothic literature–often reading 1st or 2nd editions I found in the  libraries of my family’s great homes in Wiscasset, Maine. Some of them were on the “museum” circuit, and historical sites of interest, so we had tourists coming through, sometimes sneaking into my bedroom when I was a teen-ager. I often lounged on a chaise in my bedroom and swept off into a dreamland of Shelley, Bramstoker, Blake or Wordsworth. That is, until I discovered Millay, Carson and the Confessional Poets.

According to Susan Miller’s astrological interpretations, now that Neptune is “at home” in Pisces, I will feel more comfortable with things in life, too, since  “all things Piscean” will influence art, lit, poetry, fashion and culture for the next 14 years. What bliss! Thank you, Susan Miller, for illustrating this bright spot in my horoscope. It’s refreshing to think about–that the next 14 years will be “delicious” as she calls it. I could really use even ONE year let alone 14 years of anything delicious, as the last handful of years has been rather dim and disappointing, with the exception of 2009, when I bought my adorable house and adopted my dog (two very good decisions). I love the idea that we’re entering into a reinvention of a Romantic or Victorian age –with a 21st century spin on it. I wonder what it will look like.

Lately I’ve read in magazines that the things that I’ve tried to change about myself–my curly hair or my curvy figure–and the things that I’ve always loved about myself–my mermaid spirit and my imagination–are the very things that are now “in style.” At the hair salon, while getting a trim, I picked up a magazine that had captions like, “perfectly smooth straight hair is OUT! Messy curls and wild texture is IN!” (Ace in the hole there.)  Mermaid-inspired fashion, hair styles and make-up are also making their way onto the runways and into magazines…no doubt thanks to this move of Neptune into Pisces (and out of airy cool & detached do-gooder Aquarius). Pisces is a rebel, a poet and psychic. People who are cool with things being a bit nebulous and dreamy will feel like finally, the world is making sense, whereas the steadfast hardcore just-the-facts-ma’am types and in-your-face-firey-my-way-or-the-highway types will probably see things not going their way for this 14 year Romantic period. As a poet, psychic and rebel, and a dreamy Pisces, true to form, I am more than OKAY with this change, this reinvention of Romantics and/or Victorian age.  After visiting the Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine with my aunt just before the new year, I realized I was more at home in that Victorian museum than I am in most buildings. I love my 1990s home but it feels extremely modern, at least externally (vinyl siding) so I fill it with vintage furniture to feel more “at home.” Here’s to a new Romantic age, however it takes shape in the coming decade and beyond.

During my first summer at Nixie’s Vale, a small cottage in the lakes region of southern Maine, I hardly cared that it rained for two months. 

Rains enlivened the trees in a seep I nicknamed, “Fern Gully,” which looked and sounded like a lush rainforest—flooded with bird song and drizzled with a syrupy-sweet odor of moss and a black ash swamp that soaked up all the rains and kept my basement dry. I sprawled on a futon in my living room, feeling the slight breeze of a spinning fan high above me on a Cathedral ceiling, and peered out five windows, an almost panoramic view of my new backyard. It poured. I didn’t realize that my new town attracted more thunderstorms because of the high levels of radon in the granite here—after all, I grew up in Maine, a state with a lot of granite, and never in my life had I experienced this frequency and intensity of lightning. I told my friends I’d moved to “Thunder Town” and that it was a “good thing I liked thunderstorms.”

The cats hid under the bed for the eight weeks of loud crashes and booms, flashes and downpour. I felt happy—no, I felt elated, for the first time in a very long time, like a ridiculously giddy couple of newlyweds on their honeymoon in Acadia National Park, where I’d worked as a park ranger and seen plenty of newlyweds. Those who laughed at the rain and swept themselves away to hike and swim and play and kiss despite the unpredictable weather, I sensed their permanence, their solidity. Those whose faces betrayed their utter disappointment at the fog pressing Cadillac Mountain the one afternoon they drove up to see the view, well, I didn’t have high hopes for them as a couple. Here I was four hours from Acadia and Mount Desert Island, where I had lived for eight years, and although I missed the ocean and beach rose and the national park and my friends, I felt a release of that same kind of stupid bliss I saw in those newlyweds who didn’t mind the damp weather, who didn’t mind getting stuck in a storm on their honeymoon. I wasn’t a newlywed at all but I did feel that burgeoning sense of a new start. I felt triumphant and ready for this commitment to myself, to a property, to doing it by myself—not waiting for someone to sweep me off, umbrella or no umbrella, and weather the storm with me. 

My mother had a glass of wine in her hand as she shrilled into the phone midsip, “What will you do if the bobcat comes to your door?”

“What do you mean, if he comes to my door? I don’t think I’ll invite him in, Mom. And I highly doubt he’ll come knocking on my door. They’re shy.”

“Right. But what’s your plan if that does happen? You have to think about these things, Leah.”

“Mom, I’m not worried about the bobcat that passed through my woods on Saturday. I’d be more worried about the vagrants. Men I see wandering up and down the road, ducking into little shacks.”

“It’s the economy. Everyone’s struggling, Leah. Are you really worried about men knocking on your door?”

“Not this time of year, Mom. But in the summertime, when I’m standing in my yard at 2a.m. in my nightgown to let the dog out, I look into the dark woods and wonder if anyone is out there, meandering through my land, watching me.”

“You watch too many scary movies, Leah. You’re paranoid.”

“Mom, you’ve called me asking what I’m to do if the bobcat comes to my door. Some people have suggested I get a shotgun. Of course I’d have to take a safety class first. My boss’s husband, the retired homicide detective, said the sound of a shotgun being cocked in the night is enough to scare off anyone lurking in my living room.”

“Oh, that’s brilliant, just brilliant. Good plan. The whole country is gun-crazy. Get on that bandwagon, will you,” she sniped, sipping again. “I meant mace or pepper spray,” she went on.

“This is an asinine argument, Mom,” I said, raising my voice, “I’m not getting a gun and the bobcat is not knocking on my door. I don’t watch scary movies. And I’m not getting close enough to a bobcat to spray it with mace.”

“Leah, you need to relax,” she said.

After I ended the call, I snapped the cell phone shut and tried to relax. I was relaxed, before. The fire licked the window pane of the woodstove and the funny musical comedy program chimed in the background. The dog snored and kicked her feet a little on the opposite couch. A fat cat slept in the small space between the back of the sofa and my leg. I got up and looked out the back French doors, tall panes of cold glass that let in the bitter January night air. The moon’s bright and full, I thought. It’s the kind of night for wishing, wanting. I peered into the dark woods, searching for any sign, any movement. No breeze swept through the branches of my magic trees that dance all summer. The blizzards and nor’easter had rocked them and knocked them, but none fell. Seeing the bobcat creep over the stone wall at the back of my yard had surprised me—and the dog went bananas—but I never even found its tracks. Its charcoal gray feline form moved like a panther, or my little cat, Narnia, when she sneaks past the sleeping dog. This is my life in the shadows of the western mountains of rural Maine.

Today I won a shark trivia contest over Twitter. The prompt was, “Name a shark species that is directly threatened by climate change.” I made a case for the bull shark, which depends on coastal estuaries, rivers, mangroves, freshwater wetlands to nurse their young. Rivers and coastal wetlands are disappearing, in part due to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. I won the trivia contest with my answer. It got me thinking about other endangered species…and their impediments to survival. For example, there is this article about the gray wolf ‘Single white male wolf seeks companionship. Must love the outdoors.” (For article, click here.)

If I were an endangered species, I might be the rare sawfish. Why? Oh, indulge me. 🙂 The sawfish live in saltwater and freshwater habitats–freely swimming from one to the next and back again. Its versatility is part of what makes it so unique, and I do love to swim in both freshwater and saltwater. The shark-like smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), for example, which can go into freshwater, as well as shallow waters of bays and estuaries in the southeastern U.S. and Caribbean, is technically a ray. (For more about this, see my past Strange Wetlands blog about Sharks in Wetlands.) Listed as an endangered species, the smalltooth sawfish has become extirpated because of changes to coastal environments—namely losses of wetlands, such as the Everglades. While I’m not from the Everglades, I was conceived in Florida…so who’s to say that I don’t have that in common with young sawfish nursed by their parents in the freshwater swamps of the Everglades? I did grow up on the coast of Maine, swimming in shallow coastal estuaries of the Sheepscot River, in similar habitats as preferred by sawfish. I have a prominent nose (it’s genetic) & strong sense of smell as shared by sharks & rays, and I don’t have the best eyesight, same as for the sawfish, who likes muddy waters. (In high school, one of my favorite perfumes was called “Ocean,” and friends thought it smelled like low tide mudflats.) Sawfish and I both like to eat crustaceans, especially lobster!

Little is known about the courtship behaviors of sawfish except that they seem to couple up once every two years. (This is somewhat true of me, too.) Despite their unusual appearance, they don’t attack people; sawfish put up a fight once hooked (by a fisherman) and this is probably true of me, too, to some degree. Take this with a drop of saltwater. Allow me to cut to the chase: I’m no sawfish but I do feel like a rare creature most of the time, swimming around, looking for a mate, someone who shares my versatile interests in different environments from the sea to the lakes & rivers, someone who’s capable of swimming upstream, against the current, against the odds, to find me. Single female rare lake-dwelling ocean-dipping sawfish seeks companionship. Must love to swim.

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

Twitter Updates

Past Posts

Raecine Ardis Wilkinson

Sessions and healings by intuitive reader and priestess, Raecine Ardis Wilkinson

claire houston | p h o t o g r a p h e r

a collection of single images

Truly Teach Me Tarot

The Art of Holistic Tarot Therapy

Confessions from a Homecoming Queen

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tupelo Press

Live from the Loft

Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Lezlie Moore

Always leave them wanting Moore

Wish I Were Here

Journeys Through Place and Time

Miss Modernist

Written Word of the Modern Era

The Daily Coyote

Musings of a Maine lake dweller

The Ark of Identity

Laura M Kaminski's poetry practice and links

Introduction

Just another WordPress.com site

Catherine Evans Latta

Poems for Everyone

BridgeBuzz

Public relations issues and trends

Natural History Wanderings

Sandy Steinman's Blog

Mixed Waters

A look at the conditions and events surrounding estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters