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home : columnists : marine matters
January 21, 2020 

Marine Matters: Strolling on a Summer's Evening
The sinking sun turned the surrounding clouds a burnt orange. The same color spread across the still water around the public wharf and parking lot in Lubec. A single skiff puttered quietly toward the boat launch, where a man had backed a trailer down the steep incline to the low water. I sat on a boulder above the wharf . . .
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Marine Matters: "Oh, I've got the blues so bad . . ."
Are you feeling blue? I'm not. It's mid-July, the weather is warm, the Japanese beetles have not yet decimated my garden, and I just ate my first fresh pea. So despite the fact that this weekend will be full of the mournful notes of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, I am feeling quite cheerful. And so too are Atlantic bluefin . . .
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Marine Matters: The Undersea World of Google
I find myself saying "Wow" a lot these days. Once upon a time my "wow"s were reserved for such things as the interstellar fight scenes in Star Wars movies or a spectacular moonrise over the water. Now the exclamation escapes my lips seemingly every other moment. You can speak into your iPhone and it translates . . .
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Marine Matters: Lobster Boat Races Part of Lobsterman's Life
Standing with his hands cocked in his pocket, Travis Otis surveys the boatyard at Otis Enterprises in Searsport. He gestures to the 36-foot Northern Bay lobster boat behind him and several other boats on cradles in the yard. "Time to get these in the water," he says. Searsport lobsterman Otis, age 33, has a . . .
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Marine Matters: Homeland Security
When then-President Bush declared the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, I winced. The words seemed all wrong. Thinking of the United States as my homeland smacked of George Orwell. It conjured up the orations of spittle-spewing politicians hysterically exhorting their followers to "remember . . ."
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Marine Matters: Leave It Alone
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the street sweepers are kicking up a maelstrom of sand and grit, so it must be time for my annual diatribe. Unlike multiple media pundits, I have nothing to say about Hillary Clinton, the sad state of Baltimore, or the new English princess. No, my soapbox is a lonely one. . . .
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Marine Matters: Do You Hear What I Hear?
It's amazing what our ears can perceive. Of course, we are not as deft listeners as dogs, nor do we have the pinpoint accuracy given to elephants by their large and mobile ears. Yet due to the exquisitely designed nature of our ears, we can hear so much, at least while we are young. The sounds of a cold spring morning . . .
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Marine Matters: Presence and Absence
The bottle of water had grown warm sitting in the car. But that didn't matter. I was thirsty, very thirsty, and that bottle of water was the only one available for many, many miles. I was parked on the side of a country road in a mostly uninhabited part of New Mexico, listening to the enveloping silence of the . . .
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Marine Matters: Home Is ...
How many homes have you had in your life? By a rough reckoning and including the college years, I have lived in 21 different places since the time I was born. I called the array of cheap apartments and houses I occupied over the years home only for the time I lived in them. My true home was a small shingled house in a . . .
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Marine Matters: New Faces at the Fishermen's Forum
It's a sign of age. I listened to the various speakers at different seminars throughout the two-day Maine Fishermen's Forum last weekend and, I confess, I daydreamed a bit. I've attended the Forum on a more-or-less steady basis since 1990. It's always been at the Samoset, it's always been in the same semi-elegant . . .
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Marine Matters: Oh No, The Snow!
Like many of you, my back aches. It's a low, stubborn ache that ibuprofen and a hot bath momentarily relieve, only to flare up when the next snowstorm envelops my front walk and the city's snowplow again builds a Maginot Line across the driveway. Let's just say that my snow shovel and I have become more . . .
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Marine Matters: New Voices in an Old Tradition
On a cold and bright winter's day Cyrus Sleeper, 26, is working on his new lobster boat at the Clark Island Boat Works in St. George. The boat, a 42-foot Mussel Ridge composite vessel designed by Albert Hutchinson, looms above a visitor to the bay in which Sleeper and the finish crew are operating. . . .
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Marine Matters: There's Magic in That Air
Children have a habit of what psychologists term "magical thinking." It goes something like this: a small child sees her parents fighting before supper and thinks that the fight is because she didn't set the table properly or she nagged her mother for a snack or even because she pushed another child that day at . . .
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Marine Matters: Moby Dick
The world is turning white as I write this. The grit of everyday life is slowly disappearing under a delicate coating of snow, a film of graceful crystals making my hard-bitten street fair and light. White and its corollary black are the themes of one of America's great novels, "Moby Dick" or "The White Whale." . . .
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Marine Matters: January
The explosions rattled the hotel windows. I stood in the darkness and listened. The cold streets of Salzburg were full of revelers, many of whom stood bunched at the corners. For many hours on this December 31 night they lit rockets and other fireworks as the snow gently fell, then cheered when the pyrotechnics . . .
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Marine Matters: Stories from the Far North
Once upon a time there were two Danish sisters, Helga and Inger. They lived in Jacobshaven, Greenland, during the 1920s and 1930s, where their father served as assistant governor of a large western district of the island. Helga, the younger sister, married Dr. Edward Morse in 1946, who was wel known in the Camden . . .
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Marine Matters: Let Us Give Thanks
OK, so once again there will be no fishing season for sweet Northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine this winter. And cod fishermen are just about shut out of the Gulf entirely, after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration instituted an emergency six-month closure of the fishery in early November . . .
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Marine Matters: Good-bye, Joe
Colonel Joe Fessenden, chief of the Department of Marine Resources' (DMR) Marine Patrol Bureau, recently announced that he would retire at the end of this year. The news was greeted soberly up and down the coast. A big man with imposing posture, Fessenden is well regarded by the men and women who work . . .
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Marine Matters: Trust Me
The room was silent. Forty or so lobstermen sat around two long tables or stood leaning against the back walls of the narrow room. At the front a man told the story without emotion. The longtime manager of their fishermen's cooperative had systematically stolen a very large sum of money from the coop's members . . .
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Marine Matters: Tiniest Killer
I did some end-of-the-season garden cleaning last week. Part of my task was to wrestle an overgrown barberry bush to the ground and haul its remains off to the dump. Barberry is a tough customer. At the end of the day my lower arms had been pierced and torn by the prominent thorns on the bush's branches. . . .
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Marine Matters: Adaptation in the New World
When I first moved onto my street in Rockland more than 15 years ago, I had a hard time. I was used to living with a good deal more space around me and far fewer people. The houses here, like most of those in the center of Rockland, sit snugly next to each other. Many have only a rudimentary driveway separating . . .
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Marine Matters: Northern Lights
I stood out on the lawn and gazed dutifully to the north. It was just past 9 o'clock on Friday night and the Milky Way cascaded across the clear sky, the stars were ice sharp and the ocean murmured in the background. But I saw no Northern Lights. I woke up a little past midnight. This time I stayed inside . . .
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Marine Matters: Abundance and Loss
I started digging my potatoes last week. I have a lot of potatoes to dig, four ample rows, and by the withered look of the foliage it was clear that the time had come. Despite the labor involved, I love to dig potatoes. You carefully push the spade into the soil, give it a twist and, voila!, a bevy of red, white or . . .
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Marine Matters: On the Breakwater
It was a fine summer day. By early afternoon I had had enough e-mail, tales from Iraq, and YouTube cat videos to last me some time. I took myself off to the Rockland breakwater, to walk the mile of granite and contemplate the world in mid-August. . . .
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Marine Matters: Lobster, Yesterday and Today
The visitor to my house beamed in pleasure. "We have already had three lobsters today!" he said, gesturing to his equally happy wife. "And we sure are looking forward to tomorrow!" Rockland just bid farewell to the 67th annual Maine Lobster Festival on Sunday. If the past is any indication . . .
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Marine Matters: "Never miss a good chance to shut up." - Will Rogers
The raven called to his compatriot in the voice of an angry child. A very LOUD angry child. The second raven answered in kind. Their conversation, for it certainly sounded like one, took place just as the sun was rising over a lake in northern Maine, that is, about 4:30 a.m. . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Marine Matters: Rockland Breakwater, Sunday Afternoon
The harbor seal lay on an exposed rock just inside the Rockland breakwater at low tide on Sunday afternoon. The day was hot and a strong southwest wind frayed the water into a froth at that end of the harbor. The seal surprised me. Generally they gather on a cluster of rocks on the bay side of the breakwater . . .
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Marine Matters: Questions and Answers
The little boy solemnly handed me his plastic cup. Inside was a variety of green, brown, white and turquoise sea glass, a few sea-smoothed bits of brick, and a delicately faded piece of blue china. He explained to me that one brown piece came from a small beach to the west of the rented house in . . .
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Marine Matters: All Gone
We are entering the season of visitors. Long-lost college friends, former housemates, cousin's nephew's daughter, assorted acquaintances - the coast's warmth will bring them north. It has also brought north a host of different, less demanding creatures, none of whom drive automobiles. . . .
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Marine Matters: Hard to See
The other evening after a cheerful dinner party I returned home late. The road was unlit, the houses set back in the newly leafed trees. My eyes roamed to the woods on both sides, watching for the tell-tale glint of an animal's eyes. Sure enough, the car's headlights picked out two small gleams on my right . . .
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Marine Matters: Spring Winds
They were in the street when I came home, a cadre of young children and several cigarette-smoking adults. In the hands of the children were strings; in the hands of the adults were small plastic kites. The wind pushed great swirls of sand and salt left over from the winter storms around their legs . . .
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Marine Matters: Things Fall Apart
One day recently my television decided not to receive PBS. Or, to be more precise, my cable provider Time Warner (soon to be the even larger Time Warner Comcast) abruptly changed something in its inner workings and MPBN disappeared from my television reception. . . .
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Marine Matters: What's Age Got to Do with It?
They say that growing older is a time of decline. But, for some people, growing older is just a vague notion, punctuated by occasionally turning a calendar page, not something to pay much attention to. That appears to be the case with Andrew Gove, a Maine lobsterman for whom age seems nearly irrelevant. . . .
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Marine Matters: To Think
It's hard to be alone these days. The blanket of virtual connections - email, cell phones, texting, location-identifying apps - creates a web of connectedness that many find difficult to escape. Even a person alone with his or her computer can fall prey to the blandishments of Google . . .
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Marine Matters: What Does the Future Hold?
We may not agree on revenue sharing with towns or the merits of the Affordable Care Act, but there is one thing most Maine residents do agree on: There are a lot of lobsters in our coastal waters. Whether due to warmer water or V-notching egg-bearing females or the amount of bait put in traps . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Marine Matters: Finding Your Way
Recently I spent a few days in a large city. I had no car and no friends in the area and my daylight hours were entirely my own. So one day I decided to take public transportation to visit the city's downtown area. To do so required an hour or so on the computer, researching available routes . . .
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Marine Matters: A Sensible Design
My feet felt very cold last week. Actually, most of my body grew downright chilly. The temperature outside hovered in the single digits while the furnace in the cellar of my ancient house burned through its precious allotment of oil. Be warned: this house is kept quite cool in the winter. . . .
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Marine Matters: Calming the March Madness
There's a lot of money about to wiggle up Maine's coastal rivers. I'm talking about elvers, those tiny translucent Atlantic eels that migrate from the open ocean to our coast each spring. Fishermen catch the immature eels as they move into Maine rivers where, if they make it, they will live . . .
(1 comments)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Marine Matters: New Bedford
New Bedford is a plain place. Its waterfront is separated from the rest of the city by six-lane Route 18, which parallels the old meandering MacArthur Drive. Inland of Route 18, rising up Johnnycake Hill, are long blocks of brick public housing complexes, several nondescript 12-story apartment buildings . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Marine Matters: Memory
I found a childhood friend recently. Unfortunately it wasn't in person; it was through the all-seeing, all-knowing portal of Facebook. Perhaps one day soon the two of us can meet again face-to-face. For right now, however, clicking that "friend" button has not only revealed to me . . .
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Marine Matters: Patience
I should explain right off the bat that I am not very plugged in. I don't have a smartphone, an iPhone, or a mobile device of any sort. I haven't purchased a Kindle or a tablet, and my cellphone frightens me. I don't announce these facts with pride. . . .
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Marine Matters: Flood Waters Rising
Hey, folks! Here's the news: the earth is warmer than it was 100 years ago. The oceans are warmer too. Various ice sheets are turning into melting Super Slushies, while at the same time the warmer ocean water expands in volume. Thus, the level of the sea has risen.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Marine Matters: So Long, Paper Charts
The words are engraved at the edge of the chart: "Here be dragons." Of course, there weren't. The early mariners who sailed from the Mediterranean into the vast seas beyond had plenty to worry about: contrary winds, unseen currents, week-long storms and invisible rocks. But the dragons and other sea monsters whose sharp teeth and scales were so vividly depicted on the . . .
(1 comments)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Marine Matters: Scraped Again
You know the old joke: a tourist spies an old Yankee sitting on the front porch of the general store. After chatting about the weather and the quaintness of the surrounding village, the tourist asks the Yankee, "So, have you lived here all your life?" To which the Yankee replies, "Nope. Not yet." I can't say that I have lived in New England my entire life, but I'm gaining on it. . . .
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Marine Matters: Bitter Times
Is anyone else getting a bit tired of end-of-the-world sagas? World War Z, The Walking Dead, 2012, The Road? It's the vicious quality of the post-apocalyptic world that is definitely starting to get to me. I was raised during the relatively benign era of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ursula LeGuin. The doom-and-destruction movies I saw ran along the lines of Planet of the Apes . . .
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Marine Matters: Got Lobster?
"Mad Men" certainly took the televsion world by storm. The clothes, the three-martini lunches, the early 1960s ambiance of chic soul-lessness combined with a traditional American story of false identity and ambition made the cable show a hit. That should be no surprise. We seem to have an odd love affair with advertising. Anyone brought up during the 1960s surely has innumerable . . .
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Marine Matters: Shifting Ground
It happened as I came down the stairs one night. The main bathroom in my house is situated on the first floor; my bedroom is on the second. I happened to need to visit the bathroom late one night and so clambered out of bed to make my way to the stairwell. With both feet on the floor I began to sway like a giant piece of kelp. I got to the staircase, put one hand on the rail and the . . .
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Marine Matters: Record Keepers of the Deep
I went for a swim the other day. Despite my delight in most things connected to the ocean, cold water is not my natural métier. I was raised in Rhode Island near a sandy beach and learned to swim in a tepid sea. Throwing this aging body into 59-degree Maine water even on the sunniest day takes a certain mental stamina. . . .
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Marine Matters: Hurricane Island Renewed, Reborn
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that there are no second acts in American lives. Perhaps second acts don't occur in our individual lives - although to look at certain politicians, that seems to the contrary. Among Maine's islands, however, there have been many second, and third, and perhaps fourth acts as communities on those islands evolve and evolve again. . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Marine Matters: The Rare Becomes Commonplace
I would say that thus far it hasn't been your normal Maine summer. Yes, there are the tourists, the Blueberry-Clam-Lobster Festivals, multiple art openings and picnics along the shore. Route 1 in Wiscasset is still a painful exercise in frustration and the local Hannaford stores remain brimming with summer residents on a Saturday morning. But there's something not quite right about . . .
(1 comments)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Marine Matters: Heat and Serve
Finally, cooler temperatures. To talk about the weather is to wallow in the banal but, geez, wasn't it hot last week? Under the duress of 89-degree days I devolved into a primordial form of life, namely a slime mold oozing between various fan-cooled rooms. Not a pretty sight. I was fortunate, however, because with a little effort I could find ways to keep my body relatively cool . . .
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Marine Matters: Beguiling Creatures of Myth
When I was a child growing up on the coast of Rhode Island, my siblings and I lived at the beach. It wasn't much of a beach, just a small curve of sand bordered by two enormous banks of rocks. It had the requisite sand dunes, a small protected cove where babies learned to swim, and a lifeguard stand. When I say we lived there, I mean we spent most of the daytime hours and . . .
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Marine Matters: How Old Is That Lobster?
It's fairly hard to forget one's age. Certain illnesses or blows to the head might cause you to forget that critical number, but fortunately there's an entire net of details to remind you of your age. A birth certificate and driver's license, for a start, then that pesky cake with all the candles, constant AARP solicitations and, of course, the accumulated aches, pains and wrinkles that . . .
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Marine Matters: In Another's Shoes
There's a lot in the news these days to call forth empathy. The woebegone faces of people whose homes were destroyed in the Oklahoma tornadoes last week, traumatized Syrians living in the rubble of flattened cities, angry New England groundfishermen standing empty-handed next to their tied-up boats: each disaster is broadcast to millions of people every day. . . .
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Marine Matters: Treasure Trove
It's not terribly difficult to walk through air. Of course, if the wind is blowing hard as it was this past Monday, you might feel yourself buffeted and tugged a bit. Your body's muscles, however, don't find it too taxing to propel your assemblage of bone and tissue under the 14.7 pounds per square inch of atmospheric pressure found at sea level. . . .
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Marine Matters: Markers of Spring
It's wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun again. It has been a while. Maine isn't the Arctic, of course, but we do experience a lengthy span of dark and cold here at 44° 12' North and 69° 14' West. I last sat in a happy stupor outdoors in mid-October, a solid five months ago. Sitting outside allows one the chance to use those five senses with which we are endowed. . . .
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Marine Matters: Brilliant Blue, Gorgeous Green
I have always been fond of the color blue. I suspect it started with that giant box of Crayola Crayons that appeared under the Christmas tree one year when I was quite young. There, in ordered splendor, lay an entire spectrum of nicely pointed crayons in all shades of blue: aquamarine, blue-green, cerulean, navy blue, indigo. And they were all mine! . . .
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Marine Matters: Linked to Penobscot Bay
At the end of April, Eric Hopkins will close his cavernous gallery on Winter Street in Rockland for good. I first saw Hopkins' work many years ago. A series of giant lobster claws, some red, some striking yellow, adorned the walls of a local restaurant. They looked like primeval artifacts unearthed by a paleontologist. "I'm just a cave painter at heart," Hopkins admitted recently . . .
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Marine Matters: All About Alewives
It's amazing the passion that a little fish can produce in people. Alewives are a big-bellied fish that are born in freshwater rivers and lakes, migrate out to sea to mature, and then return to their natal rivers to spawn each spring. A traditional annual rite for many Mainers was to catch alewives as they ran up coastal rivers, smoke the fish and eat them. . . .
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Marine Matters: Changing Times in the Gulf of Maine
There was quite a contrast between the content of the seminars held at the 38th Maine Fishermen's Forum this weekend and the festive atmosphere in the hallways and bar of the Samoset Resort, at which the forum was held. As the wry proverb goes, "May you live in interesting times," and for many fishermen, these times are painfully interesting. . . .
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Marine Matters: Keep Your Eyes Open
Snowflakes appear to be fragile things. Seen under a microscope, they are an assemblage of infinitely patterned crystals, each bearing six arms. Examined at the molecular level, one finds that snowflakes are astonishingly firm constructions. As it happens, H2O molecules, when frozen, arrange themselves into a very sturdy hexagonal lattice. . . .
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Marine Matters: Blow Winds, Blow
I joined a yoga class again this winter. I enjoy it so much that I've taken to practicing the positions at home, despite the somewhat skeptical glances I receive from my cat as I move about on the floor. One position is extremely simple in design and painfully difficult in execution: standing on one foot. You bend one leg, place that leg's foot on the side of the other knee . . .
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Marine Matters: How to Keep from Freezing
Hey! It's cold outside. Actually, it's fairly cold within my house, as well, but nothing compared to the chilly temperatures outside. The part of my personality that favors consistency finds these bitter days comforting: it IS January, after all. The other part, the indolent, let's-have-another-cold-beer personality, is busy these days studying South American vacation sites on the Web.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Marine Matters: Going Fishing
I prepared a darn good plate of haddock last week. Bought from Jess's Market in Rockland, the fish was fresh, flaky and absolutely delicious quickly broiled with butter and lemon. The price, however, was greater than most cuts of beef. Thus I probably won't enjoy such a wonderful meal again this week.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Marine Matters: Chasing Ice
When I was younger, I was a great fan of disaster movies. The bigger the natural disaster, the better. I include in this category everything from "The Poseidon Adventure" to "The Ten Commandments" (remember the tumbling walls of Jello representing the Red Sea?). I was a kid who liked to see things go smash, at least in the safe environs of a movie theatre.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Marine Matters: Change and Change Again
I am a great fan of evolution. What's not to like? Take an organism, give it the ability to reproduce and a very long time span in which to do so. Lo and behold, the resulting creature will be superbly adapted to the specific environment in which it lives. Pretty nifty! So what happens when humankind, itself a robust example of the benefits of evolution, manipulates the . . .
(1 comments)

Thursday, January 3, 2013
Marine Matters: Please, Let There Be Light
Many years ago I sailed on a research vessel out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. My job was to help the college kids aboard the ship conduct their science projects about the Gulf of Maine, stand watch and generally look as if I knew what I was doing. Or at least that's how I interpreted the position. During my watch one night I helped a few students with a plankton tow. . . .
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Marine Matters: The Big Melt
I don't know if you recall, but the world is supposed to come to an end this month. Yup, the big kablooey is due on December 21, according to a wildly popular interpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar. Fervid commentators fill the Internet with their own home-grown speculations on this date, feeding our perennial American fascination with Biblical judgment and the cleansing of the world.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Marine Matters: Change Comes to Monhegan Island
Monhegan Island is an eloquent place, grand and startling in its scenery. What Monhegan Island is not is densely populated. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 69 people live on the island year-round. For many of those residents, wintertime lobstering is a key part of their annual income. That fishery, however, hasn't proved terribly profitable lately for the 12 licensed lobstermen on the island. . . .
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Marine Matters: Yum, Yum!
I found myself trotting about the Trader Joe's grocery store in Portland recently. Have you ever seen a hive of honeybees begin to swarm? The individual bees gradually increase the pitch and volume of their humming. Suddenly a mass will whirl out of the hive and hover like a noisy cloud above it. Then, as if with one mind, they will rush off into the air in a great dense . . .
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Marine Matters: Diatribe
Please be forewarned: I am about to climb upon my personal soapbox to rant and rave. And it's not about politics. Do not, repeat, do NOT build your house upon beach sand. But if you do so, please do not expect me and my fellow taxpayers to pay for the damage to your home when it is destroyed by a coastal storm, such as Sandy.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Marine Matters: Language of Weather
Word of the week: cyclone. Some of you may have wondered why forecasters referred to Sandy as a hurricane, a nor'easter, and an extratropical cyclone. My first thought was that the weather prognosticators were just giddy with excitement that such a record-breaking act of Mother Nature was occurring on their watch.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Marine Matters: Canadian Processor Finds Rockland A Good Fit
It's always a bit stressful to be the new kid on the block, but for New Brunswick businessman Frank Benoit, starting a business in Rockland has been smooth sailing. In August Benoit, who owns Les Pecheries de Chez-Nous, a lobster and crab company in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick, purchased the old Courier-Gazette printing building in the city's industrial park.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Marine Matters: Nibble, Nibble, Nibble
I attended a party this past weekend. On the hostess' table were plates and plates of tiny food items. No massive roast or side of ham, but rather a lovely dish of olives, a platter of vegetables, a little plate of smoked fish, assorted cheeses, a bowl of hummus, a cutting board of salami, and all the other assorted nibbles that make cocktail parties such fun.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Marine Matters: The Future Comes to East Boothbay
Henry Bigelow might not recognize what's going on at the marine science laboratory named for him in East Boothbay. The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has jumped ship from its uninspiring campus in West Boothbay to a new 64-acre site where it is close to completing its transformation into a modern research center focusing on things unseen within the world's oceans.
(1 comments)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Marine Matters: An Acquired Taste
While the weather this weekend conspired to keep the Damariscotta Oyster Festival a bit soggy and subdued, some oyster lovers were not dissuaded by the torrents of rain. Oysters have that effect on people. Lauded as an aphrodisiac and emblem of a sophisticated palate, raw oysters provoke intense delight in some and utter revulsion in others.
(1 comments)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Marine Matters: Fast Asleep
During this past week I spent time in London, explaining something of great importance to Queen Elizabeth; in an airport, attempting to dial a phone number on an old-fashioned rotary phone; and on a sunny beach that was being swept by great turquoise-green waves. As you might suspect, I was dreaming.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Marine Matters: A Bit to the East, Please
That happy couple, Leslie and Michael, followed a wandering path far out in the Atlantic Ocean this past week. After dallying around Bermuda for a few days, tropical storm Leslie headed northward, destined for a mid-week rendezvous near Newfoundland. Her partner, Michael, spent a brief time as a Category 3 hurricane before subsiding into a Category 1 and turning to the . . .
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Marine Matters: By the Light of the Moon
"Moon river, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style, someday. You dreammaker, you heartbreaker, wherever you're going, I'm going your way." It's very unlikely that Audrey Hepburn, as Holly Golightly in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's," ever spent much time outdoors, gazing at a mile-wide swath of moonlight stretched across the water. But I have.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Marine Matters: Brittle Shells
Osteoporosis has never been a significant problem for the women in my family. Yes, my maternal grandmother did shrink in her later years. My mother may be shedding an inch or so as she progresses through the decades. But as far as the medical records show, my sister and I may not find our bones hollowing themselves out after menopause, our hips cracking due to . . .
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Marine Matters: Hail the Medicis
Once I was wealthy. In the spirit of American capitalism, my sister and I, ages 6 and 8 respectively, decided to create a roadside stand one summer's day in order to make money. This was not the traditional lemonade and cookies stand. Rather, we set about fashioning sea glass gathered from the small Rhode Island beach we frequented into what we considered beautiful sculptures.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Marine Matters: Soggy in the Heat
O.K., I'll admit it. I sweat. Yes, I know, the proper phrase is that I perspire, since I am female. Only men do anything as coarse as sweat. Please make an exception in my case. When the temperature reaches the upper 80s and the humidity is akin to a Finnish sauna, I sweat. Amply and freely.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Marine Matters: Low Fat & Mighty Tasty
When I was much, much younger than I am now, I admired adults immensely. My highest goal was to be included in adult activities, like cocktail parties, ladies' coffee groups, or dinner gatherings. There was just something so mysterious about these social events, like entering Ali Baba's cave, and I was firmly convinced that if I could just be included, the bewildering behavior of the adults in my life might begin to make sense.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Marine Matters: Friendly Fleet of Friendships Visits Rockland
Boy, they sure seemed to be having a good time. A strong wind from the northwest, a clear high pressure day, and an entire bay to play in. The Friendship Sloop Society came to town last week for their annual three-day rendezvous and the fickle Maine weather contrived to please them. "It doesn't really matter, the weather," admitted Caroline Phillips . . .
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Marine Matters: Lobster Troubles; Too Much, Too Low
"Too much of a good thing is . . . wonderful!," said Mae West with a knowing look in her eyes. Miss West was not thinking of lobsters, however, when she spoke her famous line. Too much of Homarus americanus has proved to be anything but a good thing for local lobstermen. The price paid to lobstermen for their catch, known as the boat price, has dropped like a rock since the spring, sending many lobstermen into a tizzy.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Marine Matters: Fine Way to Treat a Fish
There is some glamor in the world of fish. Think of it this way - a codfish is to other fish as Catherine Deneuve is to other women. Some have got it and some, well, some fish just don't. Cusk comes to mind. Brosme brosme is the only animal in its genus, a cousin of the larger order of gadiformes. It's a big fish, up to three feet in length, and, to my eye at least, very weird in shape.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Marine Matters: Ode to a Bike
Summer and bicycles are inextricably linked in my mind. Lest you think I am one of those svelte bodies hurtling by on the road, dressed in Day-Glo colors and perched on a bicycle that weighs less than my winter boots, fear not! I accurately call myself a peddler, not a bicyclist.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Marine Matters: Spotlight, Please!
You'd think all the attention would go to their heads. After all, everyone wants them. Harbor seals want them, herring gulls want them, certain whales want them, tuna want them, and Maine's lobstermen? Oh, brother. Maine's lobstermen desperately covet those silvery Clupea harengus as bait for the millions of lobster traps in state and federal waters.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Marine Matters: High Tide on the Coast
"Time and tide wait for no man," as the saying goes. I certainly have come to understand the rapidity of time. The tides, on the other hand, have always been a bit of a mystery to me. After the full moon earlier this week, coming on the heels of a three-day rainstorm, I would guess many coastal residents of the state are considering the same question.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Marine Matters: Lively Spirit in Spruce Head
It's hard, getting older. The eyes begin to change, the skin begins to sag, the fried clams that once tasted sublime now cause hours of discomfort. Numerous activities that came naturally now take a bit of planning and forethought. For some it would be a reason for melancholy. But not for Bill Gargan.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Marine Matters: The Pull of Skin
I happened upon a four-month-old baby the other day. We spent some time looking at each other. The child had woken up from her morning nap fairly content. Her large blue eyes stared unblinkingly at me, taking in my disorderly hair, dark eyebrows, crow's feet, chapped lips and dangling earrings with a steady equanimity. And I stared at her, the smooth face, pink bud lips, mist of dark hair covering a still slightly pointed head. Who was the more entranced?
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Marine Matters: Let the Sun Shine
What a glorious morning in May! The schooners at their berths behind the Coast Guard station in Rockland are slowly unwrapping from their winter plastic. A young man grinds old varnish off a boom with an electric sander, an iPod dangling from his belt. Around the corner, seasonal floats that soon will decorate various piers sit on land waiting for a hoist and a splash.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Marine Matters: Spring and Chemicals
The world is so beautiful right now. At least, my tiny segment of it. The grass is an iridescent emerald color, the tulips glow in red and yellow, and even the vicious barberry, which I wish I had never, ever planted, has a pretty halo of small burgundy and green leaves. It's springtime, and everything that grows is gleaming.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Marine Matters: A Lobsterman's Other Side
Who says lobstermen are simply rough, tough salty guys with never a thought beyond the next trap? That stereotype certainly doesn't hold true for one Pemaquid lobsterman. Darren Bailey, 37, does much more than catch lobsters, although he does that remarkably well. Bailey is a sculptor and, if all goes well, soon to be a captain of the compost industry.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Marine Matters: Simplicity of Form
In the kitchen of my house is a mid-sized ceramic mixing bowl. The bowl is an unremarkable orange-brown color bearing the chips and nicks of four decades of use. I remember the day my mother bought this bowl at a little housewares shop in Adamsville, Rhode Island. We were not a particularly wealthy family, thus the purchase of something new was always to me a cause for excitement.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012
Marine Matters: Sturgeon Return: An Age-Old Rite of Spring
There you are, taking a nice lunchtime stroll along the Charles River in Boston on a fairly mild day in February. You look at the river and see what appears to be a large prehistoric dinosaur swimming against the tide. . . .
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Marine Matters: A Soft Season
It's getting soft outside. I write this with two windows open and the melody of robins, phoebes, cardinals and starlings as my gentle background music. Arrayed around the foundations of the neighbors' houses is a palette of gentle spring colors as the crocuses make their entrances from the soil.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Marine Matters: The Wind That Blows
It's been a bit windy lately, hasn't it? High winds tend to make people slightly uneasy, which, combined with last week's stunning full moon, perhaps accounted for some of the aberrant driving I saw about town and the muttering people I met in the checkout lanes at Hannaford.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Marine Matters: A Wealth of Lobsters
Wahoo! We are rich, rich I tell you! Or at least some of us are. The state of Maine landed nearly 104 million pounds of lobster last year, the most ever landed since the National Marine Fisheries Service and the state Department of Marine Resources began keeping records.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Marine Matters: Guess Who's Coming to Town
Dr. Jane Lubchenco will be attending the Maine Fishermen's Forum on Friday. This might not seem much of an event to those outside the fisheries world, yet it is akin to a Democrat walking into a caffeine-fueled Tea Party rally in Kansas.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Marine Matters: Gulls and Gluttony
Ever watch a herring gull eat? It is a thing of wonder, in a perverse sort of way. The other morning I studied the gulls that loiter around my friend's ever-expanding compost pile. They stomped about the hill like bored children, pecking in a desultory fashion at various things sticking out of the dirt.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012



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