New Foliage

May is here. We are starting to see this years foliage. The early green is so vibrant compared to the darker greens of summer. These particular trees are in Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg, Maine. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Barren Landscape

life_in_maine_barren_landscapeThe dunes along Seawall Beach at Bates Morse-Mountain Conservation Area. Winter holds the landscape in stasis. Click on the image for a larger view.

I have recently been around conversations in art, and in particular, photography. One conclusion I keep taking away about our art world seems to be a boredom with the world and its beauty. Photography seems to echoing our narcissistic times by making statements about itself; declaring itself a fiction and fetishizing this revelation. And when it does look at the world, it is to exploit it as a freak show or to confuse banality with profundity.

Or is our wider culture simply bored with the world? Like adrenaline junkies, we seek out novelty, something weird or strange. If there is nothing that gets our immediate attention, do we move on? Has the norms of advertising conditioned us into wanting instant recognition, instant gratification?

Sand is the detritus of the land. Having been reduced to such a fine state, the wind and water control its destiny. Yet, plants have evolved to exploit this unlikely environment. Invading it. Holding the shifting ground in place. And when dormant in winter, this organic colony continues its grip. Even when it trades its summer green for brown, it is beautiful.

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Wildlife is (not) cute…

life_in_maine_seal_pupWildlife looks cute, like this harbor seal pup, but they will not think of you as cute. Marine mammals are found along the coast of Maine. If you think an animal is injured or abandoned, call Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 1-800-532-9551. Do not approach the animal or try to handle it—not only is it illegal to handle marine mammals, but also they will bite. Appearances can be deceiving; mothers can leave their pups on a beach for up to 24 hours. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Tracks

life_in_maine_tracksLocard’s exchange principle, named after the French forensic scientist, can be summed up simply—every contact leaves a trace. No matter how small nor how transitory, our journeys leave something of us behind and carry away something with us. Every track, no matter if taken by a solitary traveler, is woven with those that came before and will come after. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Frozen

life_in_maine_frozenA frozen waterfall in Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Illusions

life_in_maine_illusionsHow do we see the natural world? How do we read the landscape? Every season has its illusions. The low sun of winter gives the land a warm, inviting character—known as the golden hour. This pond on a salt marsh in Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area is not liquid, but frozen over with a thick layer of ice. Click on the image for a larger view.

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To the Sea

life_in_maine_on_morse_mtMorse Mountain is a ridge of rock running south into the ocean. It is flanked by two rivers, the Morse to the east and the Sprague to the west. Click on the image for a larger view.

Where the Land meets the Sea, part 3

maine_coast_seawall_beach2For all of Maine’s lengthy coastline, what is rare is sand. Seawall Beach comes between the salt march of Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and the Atlantic Ocean. Many threatened seabirds need the dunes behind these beaches to reproduce, which makes these areas along the coast extremely important. However, what are not rare on the Maine coast are mist and fog. Click on the image for a larger view.

Spring Marsh Floods

morse_mountain_spring_floodsBates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area is home to a system of marshes. The marshes above the main salt marsh are prone to flooding from the spring rains. What appears during most of the year as grasslands become large shallow lakes. Click on the image for a larger view.

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With Spring comes Pollen

morse_mountain_pollen_marshThe waterways that meander through the salt marshes in Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area have their surface covered with pollen from the nearby conifers. The course of the ditches and the tidal period create patterns with this fine yellow dust on the water. Click on the image of a larger view.

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Old Man’s Beard—Usnea

life_in_maine_usneaUsnea is a generic name for a rather broad group of lichen in the parmeliaceae family. Hanging from dying or sick trees like green cotton, it is mostly called by the common names of Old Man’s Beard or Beard Lichen. Although usnea indicates the symptoms, it is not the cause of the tree’s condition. Usnea is very sensitive to air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide, which can severely impede its growth.

Usnea is believed to have antibiotic properties and was used like a sterile gauze for wounds. It is recommended to only use this plant externally. The lichen can also be used to create dyes for textiles, giving yellow, orange, green, blue, or purple hues. Click on the image for a larger view.

Spring Salt Marsh

morse_mountain_spring_marshWinter eventually gives way to spring. The snow thaws, signaling the start of what is fondly referred to in Maine as mud season. The salt marsh at Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area is a tangle of flattened grass. There is not a burst of growth—the plants don’t seem to trust the threat of snow and frosts have gone, and they are right not to. But the air is scented with the season’s potential. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Changing Seasons, Part 2

morse_mountain_annual_changeThe salt marshes and dunes at Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area are always in flux. While we like to think of the season as four monolithic blocks clearly delineating their character to the landscape, the year passes over the land with infinitely variability. No two moments are the same. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Changing Seasons, Part 1

morse_mountain_spring_thawSpring just does not simply arrive in Maine; snow and ice don’t simply vanish. Spring comes like a gentle kiss on the land, slowly melting away winter.

This pond in the salt marshes of Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area is just opening up. In a month or two, fish fry will populate the water. This pool is isolated from the rivers and streams that cut through the marsh, yet the fish population is stable. Amazingly, the salinity of the water is higher than the ocean that feeds the marsh.

Winter Salt Marsh

morse_mountain_winter_marsh_iceSalt marshes are amazing places. Some of the toughest environments exist right between the land and the sea. Places where extreme changes in salinity, temperatures, and water level can be a daily event.  This marsh is on the eastern edge of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area along the Morse River. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Rock and Tides

morse_mountain_rock_tidesThe tides flowing into the marsh at Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area coat the bottom of the rocks with ice. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Deep Winter

morse_mountain_winter_marshA snow cover salt marsh in Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg, Maine. Click on the image for a larger view.