Megan and I are back in Ohio. Our transportation via Budget, Skybus, and Fastrack went smoothly and we welcomed the "warm" 45 degree air that had descended upon Columbus.
A few more reflections and images from the trip, including one of Maine's ever so unique parades, The South Paris/Norway Merchant's Association Christmas Parade. I've only seen two parades in Maine, but they were both fantastic compared to what I am used to. For some reason, the people of Maine show a flare of creativity and imagination that just doesn't exist in Stow, Ohio, where I suffered through countless fourth of July parades peppered with politicians, boy scouts, and of course the obligatory Shriners driving around in weird vehicles. These guys showed up in Maine this past Saturday, this time in little krazy cop cars and even a mini-monster truck. It was ridiculously cold during the parade as well, but nobody except me seemed to notice or care, they were just happy to view the parade.
After the parade we both needed some fuel for the fire, so we stopped in with Megan's friend Kelsey and her Norm at the smiling moose. Nice little bahh where you drink beeeaa (that's bar and beer for us Ohioans!), and they made a killer lasagna as well. This was the second fine eatery that we had frequented in as many days, both named after some large furry creature that lives in Maine.
A busy day indeed, because I'm just getting started. On our way back to the house, I asked Megan, who was driving our Focus again, if she could go past her house about a mile and take a look at the Crooked River. Cold, clear, and running much higher than this summer, I was a bit disappointed that river was well shaded and not very photogenic. A few snaps and I was back in the warm car.
Unlike the river, the pond was spectacularly lit, the sky was blue, and a few clouds made photography around the pond an amazing experience. Unfortunately, in my haste to see the pond from every angle, I didn't execute from the best views, and I got a few decent shots that would have been great if I had just spent a little more time with my composition! When Megan and I first arrived in Maine, temperatures were hovering above freezing, so the bog around the edges of the pond was wet and soggy. Cold air had moved in for Friday and Saturday, freezing the bog and creating a thin skim of ice around the edge of the pond.
The sun set behind some thin but hazy clouds, and my attention turned to the hairy woodpecker that caught my attention over my shoulder, back towards the treeline at the edge of the bog. A female, this bird started at the bottom of an old, bleached out pine snag, and headed upwards pecking along the way. Not very good pictures, but perhaps my best opportunity to photograph this woodpecker species.
Have you ever seen the Maine State License plate? Are you thinking a red lobster? Nope, that was the old plate. The current plate has a sprig of white pine needles and a black-capped chickadee. I grew up with black-capped chickadees in northeastern Ohio where they live. But somewhere between Akron and Columbus, the black capped chickadees are replaced by the Carolina Chickadee. A smaller bird, I had always wondered how I would be able to tell the two apart if a black-capped showed up at my bird feeder here in Columbus. After watching black-caps for three days, I think I have it down. In my opinion, the black capped is a much more handsome bird. It is larger, its colors are more bold, and the ones at Megan's parents house are much more tame then our Carolina chickadees here. Our city birds might be extra wary-they are battle tested city birds. I've got to really hide to photograph Carolina's, but the black caps would let me get four to five feet from the feeder and they would still come down, pluck a few sunflower seeds, let me fire a flash at them, at still come back over and over again.
Two other bird species visited Megan's parents feeders--the red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatch. No northern cardinals, not tufted titmice, and no song sparrows, typical feeder birds in my neighborhood, were around in Maine.
Although we have red squirrels in Ohio, they are dirt common in the mixed pine forests of Maine. They are incredibly acrobatic, and had no problem hanging on to a white pine, reaching out and grabbing the bird feeder, and then scooping out a few sunflower seeds. There are also gray squirrels at Little Pond.
Ok, so its about 4:30, and its getting dark. Time to head in to take a nap so that I would be ready for Megan's ten year high school reunion! Although she decided about 5:30 that she wasn't going to go because she was so nervous, we ended up going and she had a great time! Luckily, we weren't there for too long before we had to leave so that we could wake up early and leave the house about 5:30 to catch our flight down in Portsmouth New Hampshire. All in all, a great trip to Maine.