Once again the flowers are blooming, the canoe is down by the pond, and the grill is wafting the delicious smell of BBQ. It’s summer time in Rangeley!
It has been a sweltering hot summer in Maine, but thankfully there has been a little respite from the heat in the shady woods of Rangeley. The loon pair on the pond had twins this summer and they have been serenading us since spring with their beautiful and haunting songs. We sit around the campfire at night and listen to them, gazing at the brilliantly clear sky full of stars. Curls of smoke and sparks lift from the fire and float into the night sky; the red sparks stand out against the black night and then fade into the white of the stars as they burn out. It’s quiet and peaceful in the Maine woods.
The ice on Quimby Pond was cracking and popping all day. When I walked outside the camp I could hear it calling to me in a low cracking tone and like a sailor drawn by the sounds of a siren I walked down to the edge of the pond. I stood on the safety of the solid ground listening and watching as the pond quivered and sang through the night until the cold seeped into my bones. Shivering and tempted to test the ice I stayed still, watching the pond roll and rumble at my feet. At last, when I was shivering as much as the ice was shaking, I walked back to camp ducking through the pine bows and weaving through the woods under the light of the moon.
A steady stream of fluffy white flakes are falling covering my tracks in the yard and the branches of my favorite birch tree. The new snow outlines the shape of each twisting bare branch and sticks to the dark needles of the fir trees by the woodshed. Winter has arrived in full force in Rangeley and we are in the swing of things at Red Quill Camp— shoveling the steps, feeding the Chickadee’s and tracking the deer.
deer in the yard
Yesterday I pulled into the driveway and saw about two dozen deer snap to attention in the yard—their eyes tracking me. Their healthy winter coats were dark against the snow and the breath from their nostrils steamed in the cold mid-day air. The alpha flicked his tail and instantly they all bolted into the woods.
Like the deer watching me in the yard, we had been watching the ski waiting for winter snow to arrive and it finally has. It was a slow start to the winter but now there is still plenty of snow for snowmobiling, skiing, building snowmen and tracking the wildlife. It’s either been unseasonable warm or glass-shattering cold this winter. Only the toughest of Mainers are bundled up today to go out on their ski’s or sleds and most are huddled by the fire listening to the wind howl outside. It’s predicted to be a low of -22° tonight and -40° with the wind chill, and just last week it was 45°!
We take what we can, playing in the snow when it’s here, taking advantage of the good winter days to skin up the mountain and ski down, or snowshoe through the woods and track the animals around camp.
skiing saddleback mt
winter in Rangeley
Gray Jay in the tree next to camp
The songbirds have migrated south for the winter leaving us with the chickadees, ravens, blue jays, and grouse. It has been a brilliant fall this year and the leaves around camp have been blazing orange, red and yellow. Many of them fell to the ground a few days ago in a windstorm leaving bare branches clicking in the wind and me with a rake in my hand.
I stood on the warm sun-filled porch looking out at the yard of leaves. A few more fell in a cluster by the birdfeeder looking like a small flock of birds flying from its branches. I held a quarter in my hands rubbing its’ raised surface and eyeing the rake and wheel-barrel by the fading garden flowers. I’d been putting off raking for a few days now. “Heads I rake the yard today, tails I canoe around the pond instead.” I flipped the coin, catching it as it glinted in the sun and slapped it meaningfully onto the back of my hand. I peeked under my fingers. Heads. Rats. I could flip again…but I didn’t. I walked down the steps and picked up the rake to begin, waving at the neighbors who were strolling down the road on this sunny fall day.
Ready to rake?
Raking up the yard
Bring it on winter!
With this year’s and next year’s wood stacked in the woodshed and the leaves raked up from the yard I called it a day and strolled down to the pond. Even with the frost we’ve been getting at night the days are still warm enough to take the canoe out and follow the great blue heron as it fishes along the shoreline. Winter is coming, but it’s not quiet here yet and it’s time to soak in as much of the remaining fall days as possible.
In other news, the roof at Red Quill is being torn off and replaced with a new dormer on the backside of the camp. Get ready for more headroom upstairs! Check out the facebook page for pictures of the progress!
Goodbye old roof!