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home : columnists : christine's all-weather field notes
January 21, 2020

Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 2/4/15
There was a mid-size hawk feeding on a hapless gray-feathered meal next to the parking lot of The Free Press when I arrived at work this morning. It was perched in the limb of a tree, then hopped to another limb, keeping one eye on Wendell and me, and plucking gray feathers . . .
Thursday, February 5, 2015

Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/17/15
It was bright winter sun and -1 degrees when we skied out to Camp Solitude, shushing across the lake to the island on snow so cold it whispered. After starting a fire in the cabin woodstove, we went exploring around the frozen bog and backwaters. Two ice fishing shacks stood deserted near shore. Except for a . . .
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/13/15
The language of trees has always intrigued me, largely because it requires a studied patience. For one thing, not all big trees are old and not all old trees are big. Such is the case of one very old red spruce tree that shares a juniper shrub and blueberry knoll in the Camden Hills with a wolfy white pine. . . .
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/6/15
Time is on my mind as winter deepens and the days grow slightly longer. Most of the time we are as busy as the chipmunks who live in my stone wall. In fall, they collect sunflower seeds from the feeder and acorns from the abundant oak trees non-stop, stashing their booty in a tunnel that runs twenty feet from the stone . . .
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 12/27/14
On Saturday, it was 48 degrees, so I took off cross country up a stream to an old game trail through a hardwood slope to avoid the crowds. Trees felled by 14 inches of heavy wet snow in early November had obscured some of the trail, although damp leaves tamped down by passing feet made the detours easy to . . .
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 12/22/14
I've been undecided about whether to remove the cluster of bright red-orange ladybird beetles that took up residence in one corner of the living room ceiling two months ago. Huddling up there like a bunch of shiny red bumper cars at the carnival, the ladybugs' social behavior is like a shout: Don't eat me! . . .
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 8/20/14
On Monday evening, I walked around Norton's Pond in the slanting sun of late summer that cast longer shadows than in July. The fall weather had arrived, too. It was cool and clear. When I ducked off the camp road onto a woodland trail, I heard the piercing two-note whistle of a broad-winged hawk . . .
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 7/27/14
A funnel-shaped web spun across the edge of a mushroom that was pushing up the carpet of pine needles at Camp Solitude housed what appeared to be a female funnel weaver, a timid, fast-running spider. She sat in the cave created by the umbrella of the mushroom, waiting until an ant tumbled onto the web. . . .
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 7/22/14
The progression of blooming wildflowers, from early spring beauties deep in the woods of Camden Hills that open long before the trilliums, to the purple New England asters of late summer, is my personal naturalist calendar. As a girl, I walked everywhere, all summer long and entertained myself by . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 7/6/14
Wind was roaring down the lake, so we put the battered Grumman into the marsh behind Camp Solitude and paddled towards the white water lilies and yellow bullhead lilies that had just started to bloom in the back water, aiming the canoe for the dark red flowers of the pitcher plants in the sphagnum mat . . .
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 6/28/14
One of my field-tech duties when I worked near Calais was to count the ducklings of the year. To do that, the field crew got up at three and spread out, each to his own marsh or pond. I was dropped on a tote road and walked through the spruces, fir, and swamp maples . . .
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 6/21/2014 Summer Solstice
For the past six weeks, a hairy woodpecker has been my alarm clock. He started rattling and drumming at 4:20 a.m. this morning, on the longest day of the year. I may get a few minutes more sleep as the days now begin to shorten. I stopped doing chores midday to sit on the porch steps . . .
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 6/18/2014
The towering Jack-in-the-pulpit growing over Brookie's grave in the backyard seems the appropriate flower for the little orphan cat that my late friend Red retrieved as a kitten from beneath the auction house in Burnham and who later became my steadfast companion. . . .
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 6/8/2014
Early Sunday I hiked up to Bald Rock to see the sun sparkling on the clear, blue lobster water country, as poet Leo Connellan called Penobscot Bay, then headed through the red oak and moose maple on the trail paralleling the shoulder of the cliff. The trail was fortunately free of last year's crunchy oak leaves . . .
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 6/3/2014
Our common garden slug often goes unnoticed until it attacks the lettuce and flowers and ends up drowning in a dish of beer put out by a frustrated gardener. In fact, in spite of their lack of widespread appeal, slugs are effective composters and are eaten by doves, garter snakes, and the occasional fox and owl . . .
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/26/2014
I was barefoot when I stepped on a tiny gray frog, startling both of us. It must have hopped in through the open door onto the wide pine floors. I was about to say last rites when it jumped out of my hand. I got down on my hands and knees to look closer. It had tiny suction cups on the tips of its toes . . .
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/16/2014
I saw a flicker of yellow in the rosebushes outside the office window in Rockland and I leaned around the computer to find a vibrant yellow bird busily nipping at the rose stems on the other side of the glass just a foot from my nose. It wasn't a goldfinch and it wasn't one of the sprightly yellow wood warblers . . .
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/12/2014
Yesterday, I was gathering dead limbs beneath the red oaks and listening to the rattling call of pileated woodpeckers on the first truly fine spring day when I glimpsed delicate white flowers blooming on a small tree growing beneath the spreading oaks. . . .
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/6/2014
Ants invaded my kitchen last week, running along the narrow travel corridor at the back of the kitchen sink behind the faucets, unconcerned by the overhead lights or the clanking of dishes and pans, and stopping where it was damp. If plants are the sunny part of the cycle of life . . .
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 4/19/2014
Twenty natty black-and-gray ducks were hanging out in the marshy border of Norton Pond on Saturday when I barreled past in Ruby so I pulled over for a peek through my field glasses. I took note: gleaming black head shaped like a reverse pompadour; black back with edges so crisp they look tailored . . .
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 4/18/2014
Coltsfoot, tall-stemmed yellow flowers that look like punked-out dandelions, are blooming all over the city's back streets, popping up on damp, sunny banks even as the snow in the shadows is still melting off. Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, sends up a single, rough stalk. . . .
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 4/12/2014
It was a sunny 59 degrees on top of Maiden's Cliff in Lincolnville on Saturday afternoon. The lake ice was melting fast, but there were still swaths of snow in the open woods on the top of the cliff. That didn't deter large black butterflies from flittering here and there between the trees . . .
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/18/14, 1/20/14
Haitian Arrival, 1/18/14 I arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with the medical team from Pen Bay in early afternoon. We approached the island of Hispaniola from the eastern side, which is where the Dominican Republic is located. The Dominican Republic was mountainous and hilly . . .
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/15/2014
Three crows regularly perch in a large maple on the corner in the morning. When I try to caw at them, one glances down from its perch 20 feet up with an attitude that could mean, "You've got to be kidding me." It's hard to test that scientifically, of course. I can't tell if they are the same crows . . .
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 1/3/2014
I n early December, authorities at Kennedy International Airport in New York stopped shooting snowy owls to rid the runways of a potential hazard. There had been owl-jet collisions and they feared a repeat of a jet downed by a big bird being sucked into the engines. . . .
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 12/23/2013-12/30/2013
During the night, the branches kept snapping under the weight of the ice and falling all around the outside of the house, as if some large wounded beast was thrashing blindly through the downed limbs and snowdrifts, trying to free itself. . . .

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/27/2013
Three years ago, I stumbled on a photo of a small camp on a small island in a lake a short drive from home. It was for sale at a rock-bottom price, which was no surprise, since it looked like a police photo of the Unibomber's cabin. But it was November, the least flattering month. I figured it was worth a look. It was. The island turned out to be a third of an acre on glacial till, covered . . .
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/22/2013
I was an early disciple of Euell Gibbons. I thought of him as Uncle Euell when I was out foraging for wild food at 13. There were a few memorable mishaps, like eating skunk cabbage without putting it through the boiling routine recommended by Uncle Euell. One of my successful early experiments was Juneberry (Amelanchier canadensis) also known as serviceberry or shadbush. . . .
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 5/15/2013
When I got home from work at a little past eight on Tuesday, a male whippoorwill was singing in the oak and evergreen woods on the other side of the rock wall at the edge of the driveway. Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will. They used to keep me awake when I was a girl, but it's rare to hear them now . . .
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 4/27/2013
On Saturday, Roger darted his hand into a murky vernal pool in a Swanville woodland and came up with a pair of tiny frogs locked in a lusty embrace. The male, on top, wasn't about to let go of his advantage, even if he was in danger of being eaten. Luckily for the pair, Roger and the rest of the 2013 Master Naturalist troupe, voyeurs all, just wanted a close-up of the paper-clip sized . . .
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 4/21/2013
Over the years, I've spent an unreasonable amount of time wading through spruce forests. Encounters with moose and bear were always possible, but I'd never seen the elusive fisher, the muscular dark-haired member of the weasel family that slinks through northern forests, hunting mostly at night, sometimes covering up to 60 miles.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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