Spring Cleaning (May 8)

At this house, spring cleaning is at a whole different level this year!

We have a few different projects going on at the same time. One is the ever-ongoing trash removal, as we continue clearing the space in front of our house that will be used for gardening this year, combing carefully over the land, up through the forest edge, removing every little bit-and-piece of styrofoam, plastic, old carpet, miscellaneous car parts, food containers, etc. 🙂 Spencer says, “Finding trash is my favorite! It lifts my spirits! Because every piece of trash that I find, I know that’s one less piece of trash that’s on our property!” He’s so right.

Another project is the leveling and grading of the land around the cabin. When they made the site for the cabin, they scraped the ground level, and pushed the dirt up into a berm around the rear corner. Unfortunately, it channels a lot of water under and along the foundation, eroding away the ground underneath, so that needs to be corrected. On the up side, all the dirt that we take from the berm goes over onto the farm, to even out the slope of the land, and get some looser soil up on top of the compacted ground.

It certainly takes all-hands-on-deck! Here, you see the dirt-removal-crew in full swing….

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Joe and I run the cart, which we have since (thankfully!) upgraded to a very nice wheelbarrow.

And here, the operator-in-charge-of-rows is removing strips of grass for planting. On the left side of the path, the land is level and grassy, so for now, we just pulled out the grass and planted directly. But on the right side of the path, the land slopes away and is very compacted, so that’s where we decided it would be easier to put in raised rows and mounds to plant into. Over time, as we continue to add dirt and compost and all that, the whole area will basically become one level.

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One morning, upon looking out the window at the cleared land, at the rows and mounds and the beginnings of our farm, Vivi exclaimed: “How beautiful!” I agreed whole-heartedly, of course, but others may be thinking, “Ummmm….” 

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In a way it doesn’t look like much, but consider its history…First, it was completely overgrown with thorns and scrub-brush and alder saplings, from the forest line right up to the walls of the house. Then, it was cleared and filled with all the piles of rubble from the demolished rotting decks and the sorted garbage and recycling from emptying the house. Now, it’s clean and clear, with a dry path to the front door, and beginning to produce the seedlings of all kinds of yummy vegetables – so, you can kinda see what she means, lol!

And then, of course, there’s the demolition of the mobile home, but that’s a story for another day!

A Sunday outing to the Petit Manan Reserve introduced us to a beautiful forest trail…

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And a wonderful boulder-and-sand beach!

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We watched a pair of Greater Yellow Legs perched on nearby boulders, listening to their unique trill before they flew out across the waves…

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…and admired the beauty of a squirrel in bright sunshine, lively and glowing – just look at that tail!

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On my birthday, we continued our tradition of birthday breakfast at Helen’s!

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And then, since we were in the area, we went out to explore Jasper Beach in Machiasport.

It turned out to be a really cool rocky beach, with huge cobble-dunes! The kids ran up-and-down the hills, rolled down the hills, jumped-and-slid down the hills…

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The rocks were really beautiful, so smooth, and so many different types and colors…We did a little research and discovered that this is actually a rare location geologically, being predominately rhyolite, a lovely smooth, pink mineral that is only found in a handful of other locations in the U.S. 

Plus, it’s just simply lovely 🙂

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I was excited to see a Loon in breeding plumage, fishing off the shoreline…I was kinda thinking I might have missed the breeding plumage, as they leave the coastal waters and head for freshwater lakes to breed, so this was really exciting for me! They are so strikingly beautiful and graceful!

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And a whole flock of Eiders paddled about.

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We explored down to the end of the beach where a stream outlet creates a brackish pond and a sandy delta beside high cliffs.

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As always, a day at the beach reduces the borders of my vision down to the small space of pebbles immediately surrounding my feet 🙂 Snailshells and quartzite and seaglass, oh my!

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But there was a bit more to explore than that! The cliffs were full of hollows and clefts and arches and bridges…

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Some were dry, some were full of teeny dripping cascades and clear fairy-pools for humble inhabitants…

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All in all, a great place for an outing, with the measure-of-success always being kids-crashing-in-the-car!

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We returned again on Sunday, a different sort of day, with bright sunshine, strong breezes, and very tall crashing surf!

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This time we meandered over to the other end of the beach, where there were boulders and tide pools and a sand beach.

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On the way, Asher discovered a sweet little urchin among the cobbles (and actually trying to eat one of the cobbles!), and we carried him along with us to the tide pools to release him.

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There, we got to see the wonderful magic of all of his little feelers or feeders or whatever-they-are, coming out of the spines and waving about in the cool water. Whatever is in the water has gotta be yummier than pebbles!

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Back at home, Vivi’s sweet little bench finished drying. You can tell it’s dried when the legs begin to fall out. 🙂 Then, it’s time to give the legs a final wedge (which you can see by the darker stripe within the circles), and finish the surface. Joe carved these little grasses, which he then colored with a pencil and burnished with beeswax.

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A sweet little bench for a sweet little princess!

Throughout our work and play, the springtime awakening of nature is all around us! The frogs are singing, the birds are nesting…

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…the endless variety of insects are beginning to stir…

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We constantly hear new birdsongs, identifying new little visitors that are coming for the summer, or just passing through. We often hear their songs long before we’re able to find them, cute little warblers and sparrows and wrens, so small and quick and difficult-to-spot in the budding brush. Beneath roots and leaves the salamanders are beginning to stir. The small clear leaf-bottomed ponds in our forest, called vernal pools, are full of clusters of frog and salamander eggs.

Seedlings are sprouting slowly in the farm, and inch-by-inch we are making our way along in our new Maine life!

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