It was a memorable spring for visits. The most remarkable was a visiting snowy owl, whose magnificent presence mesmerized our neighborhood for several weeks in April and May.
We have had snowy owls on our hill in the past. But only glimpses for a day or two. This spring, he stuck around, patrolling from house, to house, to farm, taking advantage of the rodent-rich year. He usually spent his nights across the street at the house highest on the hill.
In the mornings, he would move to our side of the road, at various hunting stations, and usually concluded the day at the high peak of our next-door neighbor’s roof, seemingly content to just sit.
Everyone in the neighborhood tracked his whereabouts, traded photos, and speculated about why he was staying so long. He was not at all shy and did not seem to mind having people or dogs around.
But after two visiting photographers stalked him one day, he packed up and left, presumably for summer on the tundra.
In the meantime, we had a lot going on. In April, we finally had our kitchen redone. It had cheap oak cabinets and dark formica countertops that we had long wanted to replace.
We had debated expanding the kitchen or opening it to the living room, but eventually decided to leave the layout the way it was. It is a great kitchen for cooking—very compact, efficient, and cool in the summer.
We did need more storage, so put in additional cabinets under the island and along one wall. We love to cook and now it is such a joy to be in the kitchen with everything just where we want it. My favorite addition is the table George built for one wall.
The top is from a cherry tree from our land and is simply gorgeous.
After the kitchen was completed, in May, I drove to Pennsylvania to visit museums and antique wheel collectors.
The drive down was hair-raising—torrential rain on highways clogged with 18-wheelers (there seem to be a lot more trucks on the road since covid hit). I vowed never to drive through New Jersey again, but it was worth it.
People who collect antique wheels have developed a “railroad” system of volunteers who transport wheels when traveling. I railroaded a car-load of New England wheels to Pennsylvania and exchanged wheels there with another railroader from Michigan. So, we moved some mid-western wheels to New England (where they are hard to find) and vice-versa
We both met up with two other wheel enthusiasts for tours we had arranged of the textile equipment at Ephrata Cloister and the Landis Valley Farm museum.
I spent another amazing day visiting with two different wheel collectors–talking wheels and weaving. I managed to fit nine wheels (for three different people) in the car coming home. It was a wonderful trip, especially sweet after a year without travel.
Once home, gardening was in full swing. Last fall and this spring, George has been planting trees, for screening and beauty.
He planted redbud and shadblow in the understory and what we laughingly call an archipelago of evergreens and a Japanese stewartia along a slope in the front lawn.
They look like a tree army vanguard, slowly working their way across the yard. A star magnolia George planted in the fall survived two snowfalls while budding out,
to give us quite a show.
In fact, it was a very blossomy spring all around.
The lilacs were spectacular.
It has been very dry and hot, though—a continuation of last year’s drought.
We had a heat wave while the apples were in bloom, which may be the reason we are seeing fire blight on some of our apple trees.
Fire blight, a bacterial infection, was unknown in Maine until about a decade ago. Now, it seems to be spreading fast in the north and we will surely lose some of our old wild trees from it. I feel terrible for the commercial growers having to deal with it.
The climate is certainly changing here—new insect pests and diseases are moving north every year. It felt as if we had no spring this year–we went straight into hot and humid summer (too hot for me). At this rate, in a few years, we may only be growing peaches and pawpaws.
I am experimenting with bagging peaches, pears, and apples this year—trying three different types of bags and leaving some unbagged for comparison. I’m hoping for a good crop. And finally, five years after planting, we will have our first tiny crop of northern kiwis.
While searching for kiwis, I noticed this mourning dove peering out at me from a nest in the vines.
As usual, we have lots of nesting birds this year.
To avoid the house finches nesting in our hanging basket as they did last year, we decided to go with window boxes this year.
George made them for the house and a shed.
When not outside, I am always spinning, weaving, and rescuing wheels. This amazing cannon-shaped Ontario great wheel had been languishing in someone’s shed for years.
It is inside now, and spinning.
I wove my first rug from wool I had dyed over the last two summers with plants from our land.
The most exciting weaving, however, is this small piece.
It is linen I wove from flax that I grew, processed, and spun myself. After learning to turn flax into linen, I will never think of the clothing the same way again.
After a somewhat frenetic early spring–we always seem to take on too much–we unwound on a week-long vacation Downeast.
We rented a cabin at the end of a dirt road, on its own beach, not far from Cutler, Maine.
We loved the area—no traffic, few tourists, lots of beauty.
We visited Quoddy Head lighthouse,
at the easternmost point of the contiguous U.S. and Jasper Beach, an unspoiled crescent beach of round rocks, that make the most extraordinary rumbling sound with the waves.
The dogs thought it was paradise, with their own beach playground.
Alice adores the water and would fetch until she dropped if we let her.
Capp prefers to fish,
mostly for seaweed.
I went swimming—with a wetsuit, after the first frigid dip.
Mostly we just enjoyed being by the water, with lots of reading and relaxing.
We are back home now working on gardening and projects and looking forward to family visits here in July.