What a wonderful weekend. Next time, maybe we’ll shop at the L.L.Bean flagship store, and I can dream about visiting the area where Robert McCloskey lived when he wrote his famous children’s books – One Morning in Maine and Blueberries for Sal, and Time of Wonder.
But this trip was its very own time of wonder. Counting my blessings was easy, One Weekend in Maine.
And then it was time for feeder watching.
One downy woodpecker, steady, unflustered, two saucy blue jays, a shy pair of white breasted nuthatches.
An uncountable scattering of black capped chickadees, at least a dozen, the official state bird of Maine, impervious to cold, brave, friendly, even to strangers. They barely paused while I filled the feeders. I paused, though, motionless, barely breathing.
I listened to the murmuring chatter of a red squirrel I could have touched (if I had been quicker and he had been slower!)
Wing whirl surrounded me, cheeky little chickadees, daring, darting, dashing to the feeders. I forgot the cold for five minutes...then pondered that pajama pants weren’t the winterwear of choice here.
Maybe three cheeky red squirrels: “We don’t like them, they are nasty little rodents,” but as she said this, I watched her weathered hands carefully breaking two unwanted bread crusts into the smallest pieces. Squirrels haunted the walkway where she scattered those perfect sized bites. They waited patiently and they heard what she murmured later. “They have to eat too.” I heard their chatter of gratitude.
One moment, a solitary mink’s face appeared, white and wide-eyed in the snowy bush beneath the feeders. I wondered if I was imagining, but the squirrels disappeared instantly. It was a moment of wonder. But the weekend had a lot of those moments.
Once a pileated woodpecker crossed our path, but mostly we were surrounded by vast silence and enormous trees in every direction.
I understand “The Pine Tree State” nickname differently now. These pines are beyond what I see on my mountain walks at home. Hemlocks too, loom large and lush and green, and I hope this cold will keep at bay the woolly adelgid pest that is decimating the hemlocks at home.
And this was home for me for a few days. My friend had lived here for part of her life and made decades of summer vacation memories in this family homestead that was built in 1808.
Her mama lives here alone now, and at 90 something is still tending her neatly shoveled paths to garage and bird feeder and shed.
When we first arrived, well after dark, the house lights revealed the snow sparkle on the bushes hunched near the house like sleeping cats. I was so concerned that the snow would be gone the next day...would I be able to get pictures before it blew off or melted in the morning light? They laughed kindly at my worries. Melt? Not until April.
The next morning, sure enough, snow sparkle everywhere- I was enthralled. But I wasn’t the only one. In her rich Maine accent, Mom Madeline paused at the window and commented softly, “Spaaahkles everywhere.” She still notices the wonder. Is that the secret of her joyful life?