First Signs of Fall on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, September 4, 2011, 8:20 a.m. EST, 70 degrees F




It’s hard to believe what a difference a week makes: last week Hurricane Irene was looming and this week the water was as calm as calm can be. (However, the overall stillness of this week’s video is broken by the cars going by and a guy—out of camera view—arguing with his dog about going up the hill, away from the beach, to his car. I want to make sure to point out it’s a dog, lest you think he’s talking to a child—like I first did!)


“Pepper Pete,” as MEH (My Engineer
Husband) has nicknamed the potted
pepper plants, continues to produce
beautiful green and red peppers!

Fall is in the air. Not only are the leaves changing on some trees, including the ones within camera view, but the days are getting shorter. We hear crickets at night, the birds are flocking and starting to migrate, and school starts on Tuesday. Labor Day weekend is generally regarded as the end of tourist season in Maine, and even though we’ll still get some “outer-staters” coming in, things will start to quiet down and eventually wind down to winter.


Still, that’s a ways off, with leaf peeper season starting soon. Our peak season, when most of the leaves are at their height of color, may be earlier than the average mid-October; if you want to follow along, the state of Maine has a website with the weekly foliage report, starting on September 14.

The sadness of “late blight” on the tomatoes:
ultimately the whole plant will die, but
it’s a race between the blight and first
frost at this point!
Meanwhile in the garden….we still have as many tomatoes as we want (although unfortunately most of the plants have developed something called “late blight,” which will ultimately rot the fruit), pole beans, Swiss chard, lots of basil, winter squash, carrots, turnips, and kale. If the season lasts long enough, we may get a second crop of potatoes and hopefully some beets—it’s not been a good year for us with beets and our first planting didn’t produce even one!

What are the season changes bringing to your part of the world, if any? Does fall bring changes to your writing and household routines?


Cheers,
Julia

Waiting for Irene: Coastal Video of Maine

Sunday, August 28, 2011, 7:01 a.m. EST, 68 degrees F, average windspeed 14 mph


We headed to the bridge overlook early this morning. The National Weather Service just issued a hurricane warning for Maine, and we knew we wouldn’t want to take a video when the wind got any stronger. At the 14 mph wind speed, with a light but steady rain, we could feel change in the air.
One of the worst things about being in Maine right now is that we are at the northern edge of this huge hurricane as it works its way north. The anticipation is terrible, especially because our nearest and dearest, our two children, are in Boston and Philadelphia—two places that are also on Irene’s massive track. We have other relatives all along Irene’s path—in Maryland, New York City, southern coastal Connecticut, and coastal Massachusetts—so we certainly have our eyes on the weather. Hearing the news of devastation and damage and power outages to our south portends things to come but also raises our worries for our dear ones.

Hurricane harvest… it hasn’t been the best of gardening years
as I talked about in last week’s post, here
In Maine, it’s unclear if we’ll get a hurricane or “just” a tropical storm out of Irene. Regardless of its label, no doubt we’ll get high winds and lots of rain. We’re hoping for the best but prepared for the worst: radio, nonperishable food, propane for our camp stove, put away all outside furniture and anything else that could become airborne. Lots of people we know who have boats pulled them out of the water, but there were still many boats left in the harbor that we saw when we went to shoot the video this morning.

We talked about evacuating, even tried to check out evacuation routes (although a call to the town hall resulted in the suggestion: “drive to higher ground.”) Most of the Mainers I’ve talked to don’t seem too concerned, shrugging it off: “A big storm” and “We’ll probably lose power.” Our 90-year-old neighbor is staying put, saying: “I won’t leave my house.” 


Of course if we’re told to leave, we’ll leave.

It seems like I’m the only one who admits I’m afraid. (Thank goodness we no longer have cable TV or I’d probably be a basket case.) And yet the grocery store is packed with people, and all bulk water is gone from the shelves. Not a radio can be found at nearby L.L. Bean.
These pepper plants are the best we’ve ever grown,
and we weren’t about to lose them in this storm!
Meanwhile in the garden… yesterday was hurricane harvest day. We picked all the ripe and almost-ripe tomatoes and as many pole beans as we could easily find. Most everything else—kale, cabbage, root crops, herbs, eggplant—is low to the ground and will fend for itself. MEH (My Engineer Husband) tethered the pole beans so they wouldn’t fall over in the storm, and we brought our huge pepper pot—holding two heavily laden-with-peppers-plants into the house.


How has Hurricane Irene affected you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound.

Cheers,
Julia


Foggy Morning Birdlife on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, August 21, 2011, 8:40 a.m. EST, 68 degrees F




The day started out with pea-soup fog. I wanted to capture a sunrise in the video because they’ve been so beautiful lately, but at 5:30 on the foggy dog walk this morning I realized there was no hope. Instead, we waited until later this morning, mid-tide, and went to the bridge overlook as the fog began to burn off. And what a reward for our waiting: just as we arrived we saw an osprey diving toward the water.


Minutes later, as we began the video a large bird, I assume a gull, lands at the very end of the point. Then about 30 seconds into the video, a Great Blue Heron flies into view and lands right next to the large bird. What an amazing, beautiful, and peaceful morning video punctuated only by the sound of a solo runner, one car, and me snapping photos in the background. This is one of my favorite videos we’ve shot because it really captures the feeling, sights, and sounds of the place: its stillness yet life.




And meanwhile in the garden…. it’s looking like late summer. Unfortunately many of the plants (black-eyed Susans, squash, pumpkin, beans, and even the tomatoes) have developed some “late blight” and other mildews—which generally means the plant will die. Harvests have been way down this year as compared to last. Still, we ate our first eggplant this week, and we are harvesting lots of tomatoes, spring onions, a few pole beans, kale, the last of the zucchini, and a few small turnips.


In the photo of the garden this week, the morning glories—volunteers from last year—have made it to the top of the basketball hoop. I love this photo because it represents the perfect garden to me, a mixture of flowers and vegetables, natural yet slightly structured. I also love having the basketball hoop as a garden framework because of the memories it invokes of happy family games.


Cheers,
Julia

Dog Days of Summer

I took today’s video yesterday because bright and early today we left to take our daughter back to college (junior year) out of state.  She’s only been home a week from her internship, so it’s hard to say goodbye! It’s always a bittersweet trip that you can read about it in this post


Saturday, August 13, 2011, 2:09 p.m. EST, 86 degrees F
Meanwhile in the garden…the weeds and everything else (like the vegetables) are growing like crazy. We’ve been harvesting beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, kale, turnips, lettuce, carrots, raspberries, blueberries, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro…I think I got everything—there’s a lot! (Don’t worry, I won’t list all the lovely weeds we’re growing!)



A frequent visiting garden grazer is Abby, our black lab. She will eat
almost anything but especially loves snow peas (which are now all gone
so she’s settling for this yellow bean). Sorry about the poor quality
photo but I only had my iPhone with me!


Cheers,
Julia

6 Months, 26 Videos

This is where we stand to make the videos….on the bridge, behind those two trees. In the winter, when we picked the spot, there were no leaves (we weren’t trying to hide!)

This weekend marks my six month blogaversary (Woohoo!). Six months ago I started this blog called wordsxo: a blog about words, writing, and life. Loosely translated, wordsxo stands for love of words.

Shortly after that—February 13 to be exact—I started posting short videos of one view of the coast of Maine: one of my favorite views, a five-minute drive from where I live. That first video was shot in the dead of winter when the beach (a small sand bar exposed only at mid- to low-tide) was covered with snow.

MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I stood on the bridge overlooking the small beach and made a video using the Flip camera he received as a Christmas gift from our two wonderful kids.

We talked about it that day: wouldn’t it be cool if we came back to this spot every weekend and we made a video and I posted it on the blog every Sunday? And then at the end of the year we (and any interested blog readers) could look back and see how the view changed through the seasons and by tide level.

This mosaic header, representing the seasons of
Maine, was used on this blog until last week.
(In the interest of full disclosure, the leaf photo was
actually taken in Vermont by my son!)
When I first started wordsxo I used a generic header—something I pulled off of Blogger. Then I switched to a mosaic of photos representing the seasons in Maine. After some time, I started using more and more original photography of MEH’s and mine in my blog—and sometimes I thought the brightness of the header kept the post photos from standing out.

We used a stick we brought from home….
I went to a local framing shop and studio called the Yarmouth Frame Shop and Gallery run by two great people named Beth and Lee (you can visit their Facebook page here). I was interested in purchasing a piece of art, a simple sketch or muted watercolor of the coast of Maine, that I could use as a header. Although there was nothing on display in their lovely gallery, they suggested I might think about contacting a few artists to commission a piece.

But then Lee had another suggestion…. would I consider an idea he’d used for a CD cover: writing the name of the blog in the sand on a beach and then taking a photo of that for the header? This idea really appealed to me because that small beach, the small sand bar, had become somewhat synonymous in my mind with my blog.

We wrote wordsxo a lot of times…and took
even more photos…more than 50!
That very day and the next, MEH and I went out to the small beach and experimented. We wrote wordsxo again and again in the sand and took a lot of photographs. We came up with one I particularly like (the one I now use for the header!). I picked this one because I like the way the water is washing up over the letters, because as time goes on, and I find my legs as a blog writer, I want my name to represent, be my brand, my blog more than wordsxo.

Oh, and here’s today’s video (#26)! (Since the end of March we’ve been posting the videos to the wordsxo youtube channel, too; you can see those videos and a few more here.) Today is a rainy rainy day on the coast of Maine…and it was pretty high tide so none of the small sand bar beach is visible….arguably the most uneventful video we’ve posted in this six months! We saw lots of soggy ducks and gulls, of course right off video view. My apologies to my blogging friends suffering through heat wave and/or drought; I wish I could ship some rain and coolness your way. Since I can’t, please enjoy this brief video reprieve!


Sunday, August 7, 2011, 8:02 a.m. EST, 68 degrees F


Huge thanks to all my blog followers and readers! Do you enjoy these Sunday beach videos? Are there places or things that have in your mind become synonymous your blog?

Cheers,

Julia

Hot and Muggy on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, July 24, 2011, 7:38 a.m. EST, 79 degrees F

The heat continued in Maine this week—and we hit the 100-degree mark for just the fourth time since the state started keeping records in the 1940s. With 72% humidity it was hard to do anything but sit inside by the under-performing window air conditioner.

Yet this morning a light drying breeze is in the air and our heat wave is over. I feel a little guilty about it, knowing that many of my friends—and especially my sweet daughter—are still in the grip of this terrible heat wave!

Meanwhile in the garden…we’ve harvested all the potatoes (there weren’t that many!), and today we’re planting more potatoes and beets in the potato bed.


Blueberries: we compete with the Bluejays for these!

I love the way the red cabbage looks while it’s growing, iridescent

Lovely Summer Evening on the Coast of Maine

Saturday, July 16, 2011, 8:44 p.m. EST, 77 degrees F


The weather remains hot this week—so we decided to go to the beach overlook last night at dusk to try to catch a cool breeze. We were not disappointed: it was breezy and beautiful. The leaves rustled and the water moved in light ripples against the sand bar. Even though we only saw one lone personstanding on the point of the sand barthere were eight cars in the parking lot. We heard voices on the other side of the bridge. People were out walking to enjoy the lovely, cool evening.



Meanwhile in the garden….it’s all about the animals: wild and domestic. 


This week we’ve harvested potatoes, spring onions, lettuce, fava beans, basil, peas, and snow peas. I always forget from year to year how much our black lab loves snow peas; she happily munches as many as we’ll let her have—and when we turn our back she chews them right off the plant!


And one morning this week we came out to find all the bean plants nibbled off at the top—and deer tracks in the mud!  Luckily the deer didn’t kill the plants, instead only nibbling some leaves off each plant! Since then new leaves have sprouted and the plants are flowering. Soon we’ll have beans from the garden.

It’s hard to see (unless you zoom in) but deer have nibbled off
the tops of these bean plants!

And here’s the evidence: deer tracks next to the basil and beans.

Cheers (and happy summer!),
Julia

"Vacationland" Real-live Beach Day Video

Sunday, July 10, 2011, 10:34 a.m. EST, 80 degrees F

It took forever, but we finally got one: a real-live beach day! On days like this Maine earns it’s nickname Vacationland! (Sorry for the car traffic sounds; the bridge overlook was busy today so we couldn’t avoid it in the background like we usually do.)

And meanwhile in the garden…


Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) with Coreopsis in the background

Video Bird Watching on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, July 3, 2011, 6:14 a.m. EST, 65 degrees F


This morning we were at the beach overlook very early and at low tide—a light fog cast a magical light on everything. The bird life was amazing with more birds than I can ever remember seeing there. We saw many different gulls and ducks, and we could hear but didn’t see songbirds.




The morning’s highlight, however, were three Great Blue Herons (scientific name Ardea herodias; affectionately dubbed GBH by bird watchers). You can (very faintly) see one of these GBHs in the video, just off shore on the left side above the tree. The GBH is the largest wading bird in Maine, but it is found almost everywhere in the United States. Its wingspan is about 4 feet—and if you’re lucky enough to see one of these birds (flying or wading), they are mesmerizing.



Ardea herodias, Great Blue Heron

I was also pretty surprised to see two beach visitors I’ve never before seen: crows and a chipmunk! The chipmunk ran right down to the water!—and since they are omnivores, I wonder if it was looking for shellfish?



The new seedlings surrounded by magenta yarrow (far left),
yellow coreopsis, right, and blue-purple violas (back right);
Siberian irises are in the back (spiky foliage)


Meanwhile in the garden… yesterday we planted some new annuals in the perennial flower bed (to add a little mid-summer color): margeurite daisy seedlings, gerber daisy seedlings, and zinnia and larkspur seeds.



Foggy Morning Video on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, June 26, 2011, 10:15 a.m. EST, 61 degrees F




Today is foggy and cool—in stark contrast to last week’s warm and sunny Father’s Day video.

One lone runner stands on the edge of the sandbar (we passed her, running by, on our way to the beach). But, it was frustrating because right off camera there were four kayakers on the beach, getting ready to go in the water. Additionally, car after car went by, creating a lot of annoying background noise.

I waited as long as possible, hoping to get a video of the kayakers in the water, but they ended up paddling the other direction! I did get a still shot of them as they paddled away.

If you listen closely to the video, you can hear one of the kayakers telling the story of his favorite character in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. He explained that the character, Wonko the Sane, became convinced the world had gone crazy after he saw that a box of toothpicks had instructions for how to use a toothpick. (Unfortunately his retelling of the story is obscured by a car going by on the bridge!)

I found it amusing (and yet appropriate) that I happened to make the video just as someone on the beach was relaying a literary story! 






Meanwhile in the garden:

Spring onions (foreground), basil seedlings (midground),
wax bush beans (background)


Busy Father’s Day (Video) on the Coast of Maine

Sunday, June 19, 2011, 10:22 a.m. EST, 70 degrees F


It’s a beautiful day on the coast of Maine—bright blue skies but a bit blustery (you can see the buffeting of the camera). This video compared to the last few weeks shows a particularly big change because the tide is much lower, exposing much of the sand bar. Compare to here and here to see what it looked like during high tide; it hardly looks like the same place!

With the lower tide and the beautiful weather, it’s a busy day on the beach this Father’s Day. Lots of people walking, playing, picking up shells, and sitting on the beach enjoying the weather. We saw two other people taking photos, and we also saw several kayaks about to launch. There were also several boats in the water—that you might be able to see in the distance in the video.

This is Maine summer weather at it’s best: warm but not hot, low humidity, and a light breeze to keep the bugs down! Absolutely beautiful for the beach, gardening, boating, or taking a walk or run. Not much to complain about—especially because there was a brief rainstorm last night so the garden doesn’t need watering!

Speaking of the garden….we finally broke out of the rainy cycle of the last few weeks, and with the warmer temperatures everything is growing fast (unfortunately even the weeds!). We’ll probably thin out this lettuce later today and have our first salad from the seedlings we pull up!



How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? Do you have plans for an outdoor adventure today?


Cheers (and Happy Father’s Day to MEH (My Engineer Husband) and all you other dads out there!),
Julia

Rain, Rain, Go Away….Video from the Coast of Maine

Sunday, June 12, 2011, 6:24 a.m. EST, 50 degrees F



“Rain, rain, go away,

Come again another day.”


As soon as we got in the car, it started pouring

Specific origins of this old couplet poem are unclear, but this and similar poems are found in several countries (according to Wikipedia), including Spain, England, and Greece. Certainly I might have written this poem myself if it hadn’t already been….because it’s been a rainy few days here on the coast of Maine. But somehow we lucked out in the few minutes we drove out to the bridge overlook to make the video—no rain! Almost as soon as we got back in the car it started pouring.

Not much to look at in today’s video, but the sound of the incoming tide, lapping against the shore, is both unrelenting yet at the same time peaceful and calming.

In the garden this week, first we had extreme heat (over 90 degrees) which gave everything, especially the tomatoes, a much-needed shot in the arm; now very cool weather (only in the low 50s yesterday) with rain, rain, and more rain—which of course will slow things back down. And that’s the way some summers, and gardening in specific, goes in Maine.

This week in the garden: it’s up and down, first heat now too cool!



How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? 


Cheers,
Julia

First Boat Sighting Video from the Coast of Maine

Sunday, May 29, 2011, 11:53 a.m. EST, 69 degrees F

A beautiful day on the coast of Maine—although the first time we went to make the video, at 8:30 a.m., it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything!

We returned a little before noon, and what a difference. It was mid-tide so only part of the sand beach is exposed. Still, people were walking on the beach (only one dog walker can be seen toward the end of the video, but take my word for it there were others right out of view!). And for the first time, you can see a boat in the water speeding through the shot at about the :22 second mark. An exciting hint at the summer fun to come! There was also a lot of car traffic on the bridge, which is a little distracting in the video, but we opted not to turn sound off completely.


This week in the garden, the lilacs are blooming!






Cloudy With a Chance Video from the Coast of Maine

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 9:27 a.m. EST, 50 degrees F





It’s the same temperature as last week (but no rain today, thank goodness; it’s been raining almost every day this week, with still another chance today). Today’s very low tide makes it possible to see the channels that boats need to navigate through. 

There was a lot of car traffic on the bridge, so you may hear the cars going by in the video, and there’s also a mower sound in the background. Even though it was colder a few months ago, I am missing the quiet and solitude we used to feel in the winter months! This morning we stood on the bridge for a long time to get some footage without car noise, so the video looks more peaceful than it really was!

Yesterday MEH (My Engineer Husband) tried to mow the lawn with our ancient lawnmower…it was rough going after all the rain. I half joked on Twitter this week that with all the rain our grass was a foot tall, which is not really so far from the truth. I know I keep saying this but soon it will be sunny. Right? Yes! Later today, we’ll be planting tomatoes in the garden. The potatoes are starting to come up, and of course we have all the leafy greens, the peas, the cabbage, the brussels sprouts and the fava beans coming nicely along. Every year it feels like it takes forever, and this year’s no different, but once the earth warms up things will really take off, and we’ll start to reap the gardening rewards.


Garden photo of the week: 

Goldfinch in the apple tree










Perfect Writing Weather Video from the Coast of Maine

Note to my faithful readers and commenters: If you left a comment to one of my blog postings earlier this week, it is very possible that it was lost in the great Blogger crash at the end of last week! I realized this morning that at least 8 comments that were originally posted on the blog about Marilyn Johnson’s visit to Portland and several to the guest post by Jane Roper are no longer there, and (although I haven’t checked) I assume the same is true for other postings. If you left a comment on my blog and I didn’t answer, I am so sorry; it’s only because I never received it or can no longer retrieve it. I thank you for your continued interest in wordsxo!

Sunday, May 15, 2011, 1:07 p.m. EST, 50 degrees F

A rainy day in Maine, a bit on the parky side (perfect word of the day from wordnik.com!), so once again we had our jackets on as we stood on the bridge overlook in inclement weather. You can even see the umbrella popping into the shot about 12 seconds in!

You’d hardly recognize it from a week ago, when someone walked her dogs on the beach. But that’s the way spring is here in Maine: two steps forward, one back, and then we fall headlong into summer, never knowing what hit us!

Today, everything is green and lovelyalbeit a bit soggy; the leaves seem to have come on full throttle overnight. The ducks are happy as, well, ducks, and if you had smell-a-vision you’d be able to know what a clam flat smells like. Take my word for it, it’s distinctive but “not a perfume that would sell well,” as MEH (My Engineer Husband) says. More of an aquired taste. Out of camera view, there are more and more lobster buoys bobbing on the water, too, marking where the traps are below.

Now back home….because this weather is perfect for writing!

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? Parky? Or balmy?


Cheers,
Julia

5 Reasons to Celebrate May Day (Hint: 1 is a sunrise video)

Sunday, May 1, 2011, 5:35 a.m. EST, 42 degrees F

5 Reasons to Celebrate this May Day
1 This day marks the twelfth wordsxo video at the beach overlook—the first was on February 13 when the beach was covered with snow! At 5:35 a.m. this morning, as the sun rose over Casco Bay, we celebrated the beauty and inspiration of life on the Coast of Maine—it was windy and felt quite cold but it was incredibly peaceful and amazingly beautiful. An early morning low tide coincided with a pink sunrise that reflected on the water and sand. The video does not do justice to the reflective light or the serenity. However, you can see the birch catkins, birds flying and searching for food on the beach, and the tide coming in.

2 This is also May Day. One of the earliest celebrations of this day was in pre-Christian times with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of Flowers. This early celebration continues in modern times with events like dancing around Maypoles, crowning a queen of May, and giving of (often anonymous) May baskets. This morning, in that spirit, I gave two of my older neighbors sweet little May baskets (one is in this photo).

3 May 1 also marks International Workers Day, a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement. According to Wikipedia, the idea for this “workers holiday” began in April 1856 after an Australian Stonemason’s victory. The choice of May 1 as a holiday date can be traced to 1886 after the notorious Haymarket Affair—a three-day general strike in Chicago (involving “laborers, artisans, merchants and immigrants”) that resulted in a dozen deaths after police opened fire on unarmed protesters.

4 It’s garden planting day! Today we will at long last plant the arugula seeds that have been sitting on my window sill since I wrote this blog. As it is still very early in the spring, and there was actually some frost this morning, we will only plant the very hardiest early spring plants: peas, lettuce, spinach, French breakfast radishes, and—of course—arugula!

5 Today is the kickoff of the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon (4th annual)! During this month, 165 or more bloggers (including me!) will blog every day for 31 days. From organizer Michelle V. Rafter’s blog WordCount: Freelancing in the Digital Age:

The WordCount Blogathon is an annual event that brings together professional writers and anyone else with a blog for the purpose of improving what they do by posting to their respective blogs every day during the month of May.

What are you celebrating this first day of the lovely month of May?

Cheers and Happy May Day!

Julia




p.s. One bonus reason to celebrate (too late to include as #6) it’s the 160th anniversary of the first World’s Fair!

Stormy Day Video Postcards from the Coast of Maine

Sunday, April 17, 2011, 9:08 a.m. EST, 49 degrees F



A fast moving storm created one of the most dramatic videos since we started this video postcard series—as we caught the northern fringe of the storm that spawned southern tornadoes. Standing on the bridge, I realized the weather matched my mood and feelings perfectly: wildly unsettled. 


I am amazed at the difference in videos between this week and last! With the low vs. high tide view, combined with the storm, you wouldn’t know it was the same place unless you were standing there yourself. We took a video on the other side of the bridge, too, where the waves were about as dramatic as they ever get in Casco Bay—nothing compared to ocean beaches, but very choppy and rough for the nearshore islands. (Bonus dramatic moment in video: If you listen carefully in the second video, you can hear a startled exclamation from me to MEH (My Engineer Husband), the “videographer.”)


On our way out to the bridge overlook, we had to drive over downed-electrical wires (we made sure it was safe first!). The 40 to 50 mph winds this morning have caused about 15,000 power outages in Maine. I am fervently hoping we avoid losing our power!

Downed electrical wires on the way to the bridge overlook

Beach Day video postcard from the Coast of Maine with love from wordsxo

Saturday, April 9, 2011, 9:30 a.m. EST, 56 degrees F

For the first time since we started making these video postcards, it actually felt comfortable to stand on the bridge overlook to the small island beach. There was no wind to speak of, the sun was shining, and it was in the mid 50s. 


(Here’s a link to the very first video postcard we posted on wordsxo. It was quite a different scene, with snow and ice on the beach. Looking at it makes me very cold (29 degrees with brutal wind chill), but it also makes me very glad we switched to posting the videos via youtube. The quality is so much better!)
On the drive to the bridge, people were out: cleaning up their yards, walking, running, and bikingbut mostly just glad to be out after a long winter of cabin fever! When we arrived at the overlook, besides the sweet family on the beach, we also saw a clammer and a couple walking their dog. A group of bicyclists rode by on the bridge, too.

You can’t see it in the video, but the buoys marking lobster traps are popping up more and more. Here’s a photo of lobster boats we took on a jaunt to Bailey Island, Maine, yesterday afternoon.



Sunny Sunday Video Postcard from the Coast of Maine with love from wordsxo

Sunday, April 3, 2011, 9:20 a.m. EST, 50 degrees F

The video is a little grainy because it’s windy today—it seems like every day is windy on the beach overlook these days! Yet, there’s a distinct change in the air. Many, many more birds of all kinds: gulls, ducks, and even pigeons. A few lobster trap bouys are starting to show up in the water (none on the video). At mid-tide going out, with the wind blowing, the waves are bigger than usual with even an occasional whitecap. People are out walking today on the road and bridge, more than I’ve seen in a while.
We had 8 inches of snow day before yesterday—with a lot still on the ground, so I bundled up in my down jacket and wool hat and gloves, even wore my L.L. Bean boots. But it definitely feels like way too much today. It’s spring!

Here’s a bonus video of a gull we saw eating a fish.



Sunrise Video Postcard from the Coast of Maine with love from wordsxo

Sunday, March 13, 2011, 6:57 a.m. EST, 37 degrees F

Daylight savings morning at sunrise; MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I stand on the bridge overlooking the “beach.” Although this morning, at high tide, you’d never know there was a beach. The calm, shimmering water covers the sand bar. And it looks more like a lake than an ocean.

It reminds me of a story. When we first moved here, our realtor Dave was driving us around to look at houses. Dave said he was going to take us out to an island where there was a house for sale. Being from the western U.S., I was intrigued: live on an island?

After driving for a while, we came to a causeway (Dave had to explain to me that this is another word for bridge), and we crossed over to the island—past the exact spot we take these video postcards. Used to the Pacific Ocean, the water seemed so incredibly calm and glassy. “Like a lake,” I commented to Dave.

Dave said: “That reminds me of a client I once took around looking at houses, and when we crossed the causeway, she said: ‘What lake is this?’” Dave laughed and shook his head.

That story always stuck with me. Every time I crossed the bridge to our new house (yes, we ended up living on the island for several years), I thought of Dave, his client, and how some of the time Casco Bay can look like a lake. Especially if you’re not from around these parts—and don’t know what to look for.

This morning is quiet, calm, and incredibly beautiful, difficult to describe in words so I’m glad we took the video. It’s overcast, and the sun rises pink behind clouds to our right, casting an even glow across to the main land. The “lake” that is Casco Bay is coming to life after a long winter. Ducks, geese, gulls, and other shorebirds are everywhere: swimming, perching, flying. The sounds surround us—we hear spring: small ripples lapping the shore, flapping of wings, splashes as ducks dive and dunk under water. I was hoping to see a seal, but not this morning.

I enjoy coming to this spot each week to record these videos, to really see and hear my surroundings, instead of just driving by on the bridge. It makes me stop and think about what’s around me, sense it, feel it, and remember the beauty of the place I live. It’s good for my writing and good for my life.

Cheers,

Julia

p.s. Are there landmarks you pass everyday that bring back stories? What helps you see and really notice the things around you?

Video Postcard: Small Signs of Spring from the Coast of Maine

Recorded Saturday, March 5, 4:30 p.m., 42 degrees F



The tide was lower and there were more signs of spring today at the beach overlook on Coastal Maine. No snow on the beach or ice in the water, and if you look closely you might be able to see the birds (white gulls) on both the beach and in the water swimming. They looked cold, but it was good to see life on the beach! You can also see bigger waves and a few small whitecaps–the water was quite rough.

It’s hard to believe it’s the beginning of March and still so cold. The thermometer says 42 degrees F (up 10 degrees from last week), but with the wind it is still no fun to be outside! But spring is in the air: there are buds on the trees, the sun is higher in the sky, and birds are returning after the long winter and we can hear their songs.

Coming up soon in the video postcards: boats in the water, people walking on the beach, children wading, and clammers digging clams on the mudflats. I can’t wait!

Video Postcard from the Coast of Maine: Beach Day with Icy Sunshine

Recorded Saturday, February 26, 3:00 p.m., 32 degrees F



Maine’s coastline and islands have inspired many writers. Here is an excerpt from The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Stories, by Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909).

We were standing where there was a fine view of the harbor and its long stretches of shore all covered by the great army of the pointed firs, darkly cloaked and standing as if they waited to embark. As we looked far seaward among the outer islands, the trees seemed to march seaward still, going steadily over the heights and down to the water’s edge.


It had been growing gray and cloudy, like the first evening of autumn, and a shadow had fallen on the darkening shore. Suddenly, as we looked, a gleam of golden sunshine struck the outer islands, and one of them shone out clear in the light, and revealed itself in a compelling way to our eyes.