The Netherworld of Peaks Island

Although my recent posts of Peaks Island depict a rural get-a-way within the city limits of Portland, as well as a popular tourist destination, it turns out that the island has a bit of a

Plant infestation
Plant infestation

dark side. I discovered this last Friday night when I was out walking with friends. There were some really strange, not to mention scary, figures moving about. Fortunately, I kept my cool and carefully documented a few of these with my camera. What follows are never-before-seen photos of Peaks’ netherworld. The left-hand photo shows one of the island’s plant infestations. I never knew these could loco mote, but it makes sense for explaining how they spread so quickly. Notice the humanesque face—eerie.

Actual witch
Actual witch

Up to this point I thought witches were socially constructed views of some women as evil due to superstitious beliefs held by the community. Not so! They really do exist, and here’s the photo to prove it on the right.

Giant spider
Giant spider

Giant spiders abounded. I found one draped over a car trying to ensnare little kids. On a positive note I found a giant carrot running free purporting its health benefits.

Carrot
Carrot

But if all this wasn’t enough, it turns out the

The nether judge
The nether judge

island has the nether judge. He’s a rather austere character who straddles the four dimensions of space and time of which we are all familiar, along with a fifth nether dimension. As a result, his physical presence is blurred, as shown in the right-hand photo. Islanders actually bring defendants before him for all sorts of offenses.

Apparently no one is immune from Peaks’ nether justice. Appearing before him was a member of Peaks’ landed aristocracy, accused of crimes against good nutrition. He allegedly was discovered eating a baloney

Convicted
Convicted

sandwich on white bread—with mayonnaise. Found guilty, you can see the convicted fading into the netherworld to serve out his sentence (to rid Peaks of all baloney), much to his attorney’s amazement.

Well, I must say, this marks a pretty dramatic end to my stay here on Peaks. My final shoots this week will be a pre-sunrise panorama of the entrance to Portland’s harbor, the Casco Bay Bridge at sunset, and some night exposures of Portland’s Old Port. I’ll cull the thousands of photos I’ve taken, from Greater Portland to Belfast, for a photo book. I would like to return to Peaks next summer to present a “behind the scenes” look at the book’s production, if there’s interest.

My trip has been both fun and reflective. However, I’ll be glad to get back to my own house with my car at-hand in my driveway so I can drive anywhere on the continent.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Sunset at Boothbay Harbor

I finally got to the Boothbay Region and its harbor a couple of weeks ago. I visited once in IMG_5442my twenties, and again about 14 years ago. It’s certainly an upscale spot on the mid-coast—several tour buses were still bringing people into town to shop and sight-see.

After getting some local maps from Visitor Information I headed to the Ovens Mouth Preserve. Although the birds were gone, I was hoping for some good fall foliage shots, even though it was pre-peak. Too bad, the colors were modest. Unlike the roadsides and town centers where Mainers have planted various maples that blaze red early in the fall, most of the trees along the coastal area are conifers and oaks. Not much color there.IMG_5447

As I walked the Eastern shoreline loop along an inlet between the Black and the Cross Rivers, I found a number of picturesque scenes where I caught the first image. I liked the contrast between the geometry, neutrality, and rigidity of the rocks against the relatively fragile, and diffused pastels of the trees.The second shot shows where the inlet joined the meeting of the two rivers.

IMG_5457On the shore of the Cross River I set up for a shot of lobster buoys when I noticed an approaching lobster boat. I waited until it passed so I could capture its wake in the foreground to add a little relief to the scene.

Boothbay
Boothbay

Afterwards, I went down to the harbor and town of Boothbay where I DSCF1303took several shots, three shown here.

Later in the afternoon I drove to a public parking area on the east side of the harbor where I took a series of shots to the west towards sunset.

Boothbay Opera House
Boothbay Opera House

I really like the shot of the two lobster boats returning at the end of the day.

Returning
Returning

I took a series of shots prior to sundown, with two of the more interesting, below.

IMG_5470IMG_5475As I’ve traveled the mid-coast I see a greater dichotomy of boats than elsewhere—working versus pleasure boats. There are far more working boats in Maine compared with Massachusetts, where I grew up, due to lobstering. Massachusetts harvests far fewer lobsters, so a greater proportion of boats tend to be pleasure craft.

With one week left in Maine I’ll be photographing on Peaks and Portland since my car is now on-island.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Maine Events

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Common Grounds grounds

Although my blog’s focus is the natural environment, here I make an exception to focus on the social environment. My friends have invited me to several events here on the coast. The first was the Common Ground Fair, held annually up the coast in Unity Maine. It features the produce of Maine’s organic farmers and other locally produced goods. There is a lot of publicity in Maine encouraging people to buy local. We were in stop-and-go for miles getting to the grounds. Once we got through the gate the fair had the feeling of the sixties, except instead of fields populated by concert goers, there were now food and goods producers. There are about 900 local farms in Maine, and about a third of them are organic certified.

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Alpaca

There was a lot of livestock. One of the crowd pleasers were the alpacas. They are really cute. Their fur is one of the warmest and used to line winter coats–something to begin thinking about.

There were simply too many exhibits to completely see. However, one that many folks did not want to miss _DSF1109was the border collies exhibition. These working dogs are bred to work in teams and trained to understand many verbal and hand commands. They follow instructions to herd sheep and goats, as desired by the farmer. A couple of fair goers in the photo to the left are checking to confirm when and where this demonstration will take place.

And who could forget the brass band from Providence, RI that came to play at the Fifth Marine Museum on Peaks Island? It was a beautiful day, ensuring a good island turnout. What the band might have lacked in its budget was more than made up for by their diversity and enthusiasm, as you can see in the following shots.

_DSF1154Although they had no uniforms, they did have two tubas! Beyond that, each player looked like they were from very different backgrounds._DSF1166

They got people dancing and one of the short people topped a rock for a better view of the activities._DSF1184_DSF1196

Then, this past week-end it was the Maine Marathon, attracting about 3500 runners. There was also a DSCF1206half-marathon, and a relay. All began at the same time and shared the first 6.5 miles of the course before splitting off.

DSCF1242Here they are, just after the gun went off. Having been a runner for nearly 40 years I was a bit envious of this crowd (now I mostly swim for my aerobics). Among one of the notables in the half-marathon was my long-time friend, Black Dog Davey, DSCF1222seen in the pre-race photo to the right. Unfortunately, he was “nosed out” by Moninda Marube with a winning time of 1:08:13, seen DSCF1279approaching the finish line in the next photo. By the way, the full marathon winner was Rob Gomez, burning across the finish line in 2:34:42 (that’s an average of 5:13 per mile–wow–but nowhere near the world record of 2:02:XX just set in Berlin–these guys must be cyborgs).

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be focusing on the foliage scenes, particularly in the Rockland area.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Maine’s Rocky Coast

What would a photo trip to Maine’s coast be without including a focus on its rocks? You’ve seen these in numerous photos where they look great from a distance, but I decided to literally focus on them up close. This is also an exercise in capturing form and texture, which it quite useful for developing a “photographic eye.”

Like our own bodies, our planet undergoes constant change. What appears as a permanent Earth is only temporary. According to a placard installed in Two Lights State Park by Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, there is an interesting  story associated with these rocks. They are about 440 million years old. They formed:

. . . when sand and mud eroded off the continent and into the bottom of an ancient sea. Over time, the sediments hardened into layers of the sedimentary rocks called sandstone and shale.

As if in a giant vise, that ocean basin was being gradually squeezed between the ancient edge of North America and a micro-continent geologists call Avalon. As Avalon advanced toward North America, those sedentary rocks were folded, faulted, and subjected to a prolonged period of pressure and heat. This process changed the sandstone and shale into light brown quartz and dark gray phyllite, the metamorphic rocks that we see today.

About 400 million years ago, Avalon finally collided with North America. This collision destroyed the ancient ocean, lifted these rocks, and formed the northern Appalachian Mountains, which were several miles high [author’s note: much like portions of the Rockies today]. This was a geologically active time of massive earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Within the next 150 million years all the Earth’s continents merged into one giant landmass called Pangea (“All Earth”).

Then about 200 million years ago, Pangea began to break apart. Great fissures spewed forth molten rock, and earthquakes shook the landmass as it broke up along fault lines into the continents of North America , Eurasia, and Africa.

Of course, change is not over, yet. The earth will continue to undergo dramatic change for the next 15 billion years, when our sun becomes a red giant.

You can see how the rocks have folded back on to themselves in the following photo as a result of being pushed up to the shore.

Folded rock
Folded rock
IMG_5304
Snails anchored in the rocks
Resting
Resting

Nooks and crannies in the rocks provide homes to snails and resting places for gulls.Watching the boats go by

The rocks also work for humans.

As I said previously, the rocks continue to be reshaped by erosion caused by the sea, sun, and air. The three full-size photos, below, offer a close-up view of these effects, that just fascinate my eye. I suspect the cracks which appear so geometrical are the results of alternating heating and cooling that caused breaks at the rocks’ fissures.

IMG_5334 IMG_5317Here, it almost looks as though someone cut the rock with a saw.

IMG_5344Stepping back for the “big picture” is even more interesting as the crags in the rock invite the viewer to scan down the scene.IMG_5351Just as mollusks find the rocks a good place to live, so do some of the moss and lichens, below.

IMG_5354As I travel around looking for some good foliage scenes during the next two weeks it’s becoming evident that these will not be as dramatic as the classic Vermont and New Hampshire scenes. Maine, particularly along the coast, has far more conifers and Oak tress (the latter going mostly from green to brown) so the concentration of color will be more dispersed. Even so, Maine’s colors are beginning to pop, the Maples up first manifesting their bright reds.

Lots to do yet!

-From Portland and the mid-coast

On to Rockland

I drove up to Rockland earlier this week to decide if it might be a good area to spend a few days during peak foliage. It is a “come back” town. Formerly a run-down fishing community, today it has a museum of American art, about a dozen art galleries, coffee houses; and upscale, independent stores. It has more windjammer cruises than its neighbor, Camden. Rockland also has a huge ferry terminal operated by the State of

Rockland Harbor
Rockland Harbor

Maine. From there you can make relatively long voyages to North Haven, Vinal Haven, Matinicus, and Ragged Islands.

After looking around Main Street, I walked to the harbor for a few shots. Gone were the large yachts such as those of Belfast, Camden, and Portland but this could be due to the season—some boats now being in dry dock, others sailing south.

Owls Head Light
Owls Head Light

I was anxious to go to Owls Head Light, as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and Rockland. Although the park was quite nice, the lighthouse was not impressive. It was small, and given the terrain, there was no way to get a really artistic shot. Unlike most other lighthouses, you literally had to stand next to it to shoot, as shown in the accompanying photograph.

There was a beach at Owl’s Head that provided a nice view toward the north end of Rockland where I caught a nice scene with two sailboats on outbound courses.

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Outbound from Rockland

From here I was off to Birch Point Beach where, like Portland Head Light, artists abounded. I figured this had to be a pretty good spot to photograph. Here are but a few shots, including some of the artists. Maine’s coast continues to inspire artists and attract tourists. As urbanized as most of us are, nature continues to be something we need.

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Artists (and dog) at Birch Point Beach
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Birch Point Beach, looking Southwest

All in all I decided Rockland would indeed be a good spot for photographing the northern part of the mid-coast so I reserved a room at a local motel. Not only will I be there to capture the fall colors at peak, but I’ll be able to get dawn and dusk shots when lighting is best since I won’t have to content with ferry schedules.

By the way, if you double-click on any of my blog images you will see far more detail.

-From Portland and the mid-coast