A young-looking crow was perched along the Shore Path in Bar Harbor late one afternoon this week as Pamelia and I took a break from Notebook activities to rendezvous with a writer/educator/hiker with whom we hope to start collaborating. Those are a few of the Porcupine Islands in the distance.
I would say that the fast-moving events of the last 10 days have all become a blur in my mind, but in fact they’re the opposite—a succession of vivid, distinct, colorful, happy images of the people and outings and talks and creative endeavors that have filled seemingly our every waking minute since I returned to Maine from the London Olympics. I’ll have time soon to write more about them, but here are a few photos to give you a feel for what has been happening.
During a hike before his Naturalist’s Notebook-arranged talk at Schoodic, renowned naturalist and writer Bernd Heinrich (right, with graduate student and Notebook collaborator Luka Negoita) found an ichneumon wasp. Bernd’s father was the world’s foremost expert on ichneumons.
Here’s a closer look at the ichneumon, of which there are thousands of types. They are parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside other insects.
Bernd’s talk at the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute drew a full house. Yes, that’s Bernd’s head popping out of the beaver lodge in the slide. He’ll go anywhere to learn how nature works.
This porcupine was hanging around outside the SERC auditorium.
Before our Schoodic hike, we stopped at the Birdsacre sanctuary in Ellsworth, where these two abandoned baby bluebirds were among the avian creatures being cared for.
Here’s a portion of the group that took part in a Notebook bird walk and talk, led by ornithologist Jeff Wells, senior scientist for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign and author of the new book Maine’s Favorite Birds. We’re looking at large seabirds called Northern gannets flying over Seal Harbor. In a short walk through woods, park and shoreline within a quarter-mile of the Notebook, we saw and/or heard these species: goldfinch, chickadee, crow, mourning dove, herring gull, dark-eyed junco, black-and-white warbler, black-throated green warbler, redstart, Northern gannet, laughing gull, cedar waxwing, catbird, blue jay, great black-backed gull, double-crested cormorant and song sparrow. And we weren’t even looking during the prime birding hours.
We held a dragonfly-themed science-art-and-dance event on the Notebook deck with top Broadway dancers Elizabeth Parkinson and Scott Wise. It was a blast. Here are some of the clothespin dragonflies people made. The idea for these pins came from Elizabeth and Scott’s son, James, age 7.
Scott and Elizabeth had fun visiting Hueman, our 13.7-billion-year, color-coded—dare I say walking and talking?—timeline of the history of the universe .
Here is one of the many beautiful pieces created by participants in the first of our two encaustic-painting workshops, led by Dina Helal of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. I’ll tell and show you more about the ancient technique of encaustic in a post soon.
Three-time Olympic runner Lynn Jennings gave a fascinating Notebook talk on the Seal Harbor green about her career, the Olympics and running. Among the crowd was a group of young YMCA runners for whom Lynn’s tale of perseverance was especially inspiring.
Lynn brought along her 1992 Olympic bronze medal, which she won in the 10,000 meters. I gave the young YMCA runners paper and pencils so they could do rubbings of it.
Two of our three high-school interns, Anthea and Melanie, have been painting this Moon surface on canvas stretched across the floor of the garage at our house. It isn’t finished yet, but it will become part of a larger installation that you’ll get to see in the Notebook in 2013.
We began creating a Moon-rock installation on the deck at the Notebook and, like the late Neil Armstrong, left behind our lunar footprints.
Two of our three Moon-makers—high-school interns David and Anthea—shared a moment of paper-mache lunar lunacy.
Melanie and Anthea also have been working on a solar installation for next year. In the background of this photo, Pamelia is talking with Adam Burk, the executive director of TEDxDirigo, the organization that runs the smart-idea-filled TEDx talks in Maine. We are going to prepare an interactive outdoor exhibit for the TEDx event to be held at Bates College in October.
We have a new honey-tasting tournament champion! In my absence, Haley set up this year’s Sweet 16 event, which had a Southwestern flavor—Arizona mesquite, to be exact. Our three previous winners were Washington State fireweed, Maine wild raspberry and Oregon wild red huckleberry. Among the honeys that competed in this year’s event (but lost) was one from Prince Charles’s hives in England.
Lucy Sisman of wwword.com (a wonderful website that describes itself as a home for readers, writers, illiterates, browsers, time-wasters, mavens and bores–and all who use, abuse, love and hate the English language) stopped in at the Notebook to interview Pamelia and me. We had a delightful talk. I highly recommend that you visit Lucy’s site. A reporter from the Mount Desert Islander came by to interview us later in the week.
I was surprised (though not really) to find out that Sarah, one of the Notebook’s youngest friends and collaborators, has gotten a lobstering license. She pulled this 30-inch, nine-pound lobster out of one of her traps.It was WAY too big to keep; Maine is a leader in protecting larger, older lobsters because they are the best breeders (and, after all, have earned special treatment after surviving in the ocean for decades!).
That’s a heck of a claw.
One more bird note: When dancers Scott and Elizabeth returned home to Connecticut, they found a trio of Muscovy ducks awaiting them. Muscovies are native to Mexico and Central and South America, but wild colonies of them have moved up into the U.S. They’re large birds; some weigh as much as 15 pounds. No one knows why they have a name that suggest they’re from Moscow. (Suggestions welcome.)
Nancy Andrews’s new book.
Book Signing This Thursday
Independent filmmaker and College of the Atlantic professor Nancy Andrews will sign copies of her new book, Loupette and the Moon, at The Naturalist’s Notebook on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m. Nancy’s book, which is in the form of a graphic novel or comic book, follows the story of Loupette, a girl with a genetic disorder that makes her noticeably different in appearance from the people around her. The visual narrative presents ideas about the mind, sanity and perception, and Nancy—who has had to deal with the medical consequences of Marfan syndrome—calls the book an idiosyncratic expression of the experience of difference and illness from the point of view of a person with a genetic disorder who has experienced anesthesia-caused delirium and medical trauma. It’s thought-provoking—a work of visual art as well as an intriguing book.
Please stop in to meet (or say hi to) Nancy and learn more about her broader artistic and film initiative linked to issues of science and medical treatment.
Last thought of the day, after looking out at the water from our house: It’s great to be back home in Maine.