ATTEAN WAY: MAINE, WILD AND WONDERFUL – Marilyn Armstrong

I live in New England and it is where I always wanted to live. I think I originally had a more northern destination in mind, but the requirements of work brought us originally to the Boston area and eventually, out to this valley.

When I dream of the glory of a New England autumn, I dream of Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and Maine. It is beautiful here, too, but up there … it’s breathtaking.

I’m sure the leaves are already changing there.

Up by Jackman, Maine, the weather is changing now and the leaves are turning. Someone asked me about the place and I dug up some information.

Attean View – Sunset – Jackman, Maine

This is one of the most undeveloped areas in New England. It is poor and while there are some “resorts” there, it never developed the other places have. Partly, it’s because it is so far from anything else. Jackman is a tiny town. Not much work. A bit down on its luck.

Any number of attempts have been made to make the place more desirable to tourists, but except for anglers, it’s just incredibly beautiful. And relatively inexpensive, if you don’t mind driving many hours up into the mountains. It doesn’t hurt to have a pretty sturdy little car with four-wheel drive, either.

And some good camera equipment. There are bear and moose are everywhere. There are a lot of signs along the road warning you to be very careful. Moose plus car in a collision will probably kill the moose AND all the people in the car. They are really huge animals and this is one of the places they like.

Moose like bitterly cold temperatures. Any time it gets much above freezing, as far as the moose are concerned, it is too warm. The colder it is, the happier they are.

October near Jackman, Maine

This is what the state of Maine says about the area:


ATTEAN POND
Attean Twp., Somerset Co.
U.S.O.S. AUean (Auburn?), Me.

Attean Pond is one of four large bodies of water in the Moose River drainage to the west of Jackman. More than 40 islands are found in the pond. With 1 exception of a set of commercial C:1mps on some of these islands, the area remains undeveloped. Sally Mountain to the north, Attean Mountain to the west, and rolling hills to the east and southeast complete a scenic background to the pond environment.

The shoreline of Attean Pond varies greatly in composition, providing a diversity of habitat types. Some areas consist of rock and ledge, others are gravelly, some weedy. Among these, several fine sandy beaches are available.

There are a number of good campsites around the pond, which are often utilized by people making the popular Moose River “Bow Trip.” Attean Pond is the beginning and end of this 30-mile canoe trip. A one-mile carry trail connects the western end of Attean with Boleb (?) Ponds, which then provides access to the Moose River and the opportunity to return to Attean.

Wild populations of brook trout and salmon are present in Attean Pond. However, large areas of shallow water are marginal habitat for these cold water game fish during the summer months. Of the total area, only about 600 acres have water deeper than 20 feet. In addition, large populations of yellow perch, suckers, and minnows compete for the available food supply. This further limits the potential for brook trout production.

The best spawning and nursery areas for the salmon and trout are found in tributaries to the Moose River several miles upstream from Attean Pond. The Moose River, both as a tributary and the outlet:

Maximum depth – 55 feet
Principal Fishery: Salmon, Brook trout
Physical Characteristics
Temperatures
Surface – 70°F.
50 feet – 48°F.
Surveyed – August. 1956 – Revised 1977  (** They could probably use a newer version!)
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Published under Appropriation No. 4550
A Contribution of Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid Project F-28-P,

Maine and other small brooks that flow directly into the pond offer few areas that are suitable for spawning. or that could recall large numbers of small salmon or trout.

Lake trout are occasionally caught in Attean Pond. These have moved upstream from Big Wood Pond, where they are stocked. and dwell in a small area of deep water al the western end of the pond. Because of the competition from non-game species, especially yellow perch, brook trout management through stocking is now impractical.

Under existing conditions, wild trout should continue to provide a small fishery. Lake trout can utilize the non-game fish as forage, but it is unlikely that a sizeable lake trout population could be maintained. Management for this species is precluded by the small amount of deep, cold, well-oxygenated water available in the western end of the pond.

Thus, at present, Attean Pond is best suited for salmon. A smelt population provides the forage necessary to sustain this species and salmon are perhaps more inclined than brook trout to travel long distances up the Moose River to the 10 spawning areas in its tributaries.

Small numbers of marked hatchery salmon will be stocked to supplement the wild population. Their growth and contribution to sport fishing will be followed via information from anglers.

Area – 2,745 acres

Yellow perch have become established in the drainage. They have adversely affected the Quality of fishing in Attean Pond in recent years. There should be no introductions of new fish species that could adversely affect the existing trout and salmon populations in Attean Pond, or the management of other waters in the drainage. Minnows, Lake chub, Fall fish (chub), Creek Chub, Common shiner, Cusk, Salmon, Brook trout (squaretail), Lake trout (togue), yellow perch, Smelt, White sucker, Longnose sucker

ATTEAN TWP., SOMERSET CO
AREA 2745 ACRES


This is a fabulous place for a photo vacation. Rough and undeveloped land — with plenty of wildlife and an autumn to die for.

I wish we were going, but it’s too much driving for us these days.

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL WITH TRACES OF MY PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: TRACES OF THE PAST Y4-07

From Paula: 

After a month’s break, I decided to challenge you again with things from the past. What Traces of the Past have you found near you or on some of your travels?

Are these remains of things built and now in disrepair, the remains of natural occurrences, or items from your personal past?

Whether they provoke admiration or make you nostalgic or even horrified, here’s an opportunity to showcase them for this photo challenge.


There’s a story that goes with these two chairs.

Adirondack Chairs

I ordered them from LL Bean when we first moved into this house, 18 years ago. I had images of long summer afternoons spent lounging in the yard, relaxing in those chairs. I also bought a big wooden table, big enough for us and anyone who came to visit. A table for the deck and matching chairs and even a side table and a lounge chair.

We built a teepee — and I wrote a book about the teepee and spend some lovely time there, too.

But life didn’t go quite the way I expected. I got sick and stayed sick for years, one thing after another. And Garry lost his job. The economy crashed and by the time it came back, we’d been out of work so long, it didn’t matter. I physically couldn’t … and Garry was burned out. Finished.

The teepee was up for 6 years then finally had to come down, worn out by those winters and summers in the valley. I found those chairs were lovely to look at, but shockingly difficult to get out of. I needed a skyhook and a winch to stand after sitting there. So while they are still out there, they are rarely used. It turns out, almost no one can get out of them without help. Something about the angle …

Our third vow renewal.

We don’t spend nearly as much time outside around here as we expected. Partly, it’s the weather and the rest are the bugs. Steamy hot in summer, bitterly cold and waist-deep in snow during winter, autumn is about the only really comfortable time. Even that depends on the proliferation of black flies and mosquitoes, and not counting two-years of gypsy moth infestation.

And yet, I have the happiest memories of the backyard. It’s where we were married (the third time, to each other) and where we had barbeques and where I slept in the teepee.

I may not spend many hours outside, but it has inspired me in many ways. It’s full of inspiration, even if the chairs don’t really fit and the teepee has moved on.

jupiter najnajnoviji

FOREST LIFE WHEN SPRING HAS COME – Marilyn Armstrong

OH FOREST PRIMEVAL


I laughed when Ellin wrote that the weather is perfect for outside. “Not too hot, not too cold, and the bugs aren’t in full attack mode.” Or something to that effect. People who don’t live here don’t “get” the bugs.

We don’t just have insects. We have hordes of insects with jaws and stingers. Tiny ones that get into your eyes and ears and clothing.

The trees will darken as summer progresses

Evil ones that carry disease and vicious ones that requires trips to the doctor and antibiotics. And of course, the slithery ones that eat your trees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they are naked. The trees are naked. The bugs are furry and itchy.

This year, so far, the bugs are “normal.” I see no evidence of returning gypsy moth caterpillars and I just hope that we are back to normal again. Nothing more vicious than mosquitoes and flies seem to be out there, discounting the ever-present ants, of course.

So this is our forest. It has come into bloom. Yesterday, actually. You could pretty  much watch the leaves unfurl. It’s not quite summer, so I think we are going to get a week or two of actual spring! Amazing! We deserve it after our last, endless winter.

WHAT IS THAT SOUND IN THE BASEMENT?

We were watching “Father Brown” on Netflix and in the back of my head, I was hearing a grinding sort of sound. I could not identify it, but it was coming from the basement. I could barely hear it … but it was there. It isn’t the sound our boiler makes and it didn’t sound like the dehumidifier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Odd sounds in the house always get me investigating. I can’t ignore them. 

So I went downstairs to look around. Aside from realizing that we really are overrun by mice, the sound had stopped. I shrugged and went upstairs, pondering how the mice — which we used to have under control — went so crazy. I think it’s because no one lives downstairs now, so they’ve the run of the place. They are living here, but as far as food goes, they are “ordering out.”

Woods in winter – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Snow starting in early winter

Our Pest Control guy assured us they aren’t eating our food because you can follow the trail of acorns from the trees. Our oak trees could feed a world of squirrels. It turns out, they are already feeding a world of mice.

Living in the woods is wonderful and romantic. It’s also messy and invites many uninvited guests to drop by and stay awhile.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Today, we took Gibbs to the vet. It was his annual visit. He needed to be tested for heart worm, though I know he doesn’t have it. As we were driving home, I noticed all the little streams looked more like real rivers. Everything has overrun its banks.

The Mumford and Blackstone Rivers are full and the dams wide open. Even the usually shallow Whitins Pond is deep and wider than usual.

Manchaug Dam

That was when I realized what that sound was, the one I heard last night. It was a sound I had nearly forgotten because it has been years since I heard it.

It was the sump pump, pushing the water out of the sump under the house.

Flooding!

If we didn’t have a sump, a pump, and French drains, we would be up to our kneecaps in water downstairs. For the first time in more than a dozen years, we are facing the likelihood of flooding in the valley.

We are pretty well prepared for it because when we first moved here, we had some serious flooding issues. Before we even fixed the roof or put up siding, we were adding French drains across the entire front of the house, down the driveway and through the backyard into the woods. The sump and pump came about two years later and we haven’t had any flooding since.

Of course, if the water gets bad enough, nothing will stop it, but we don’t live on the edge of a river — though many people around here live very close to the river. We have a lot of rivers and tributaries and streams and ponds.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We are a major water source for all of Massachusetts as well as parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is the reason I get so worried when we go through long periods of drought or semi-drought. It isn’t just “our” well. We are all linked to the same underground waterways and rivers. The water belongs to everyone.

UNDULATING IN THE UNDERBRUSH IN THE DANGEROUS WOODS

Doesn’t that sound like some bizarre parallel of life? There you are in your L.L. Bean boots, sprayed head-to-foot with anti-bug glop. You don’t know what’s worse — the big heavy boots with your jeans tucked into the tops, or the slime all over your body.

That anti-bug spray is icky.

But you aren’t going into the woods without it, that for sure. The last time you decided to take a little walk in your own back yard — and much as this seems like a jungle from an old Universal Studios moved (circa early 1950s maybe?), it’s yours. You bought the land. And today, you are going to explore it.

You should have done this early in the spring, before all the clawing blackberry trees were up. Before those wolf spiders were eyeing you from their woodsy nests. Those things are so damned big and while in theory, the worst they can do is bite you — and they aren’t poisonous — you are pretty sure you’re going to have a heart attack if one gets anywhere near you.

Do you need gloves too? Maybe a hat?

It’s 80 degrees and the bug spray is forming rivulets with your own sweat. Grab the camera. Maybe you’ll see something beautiful. Probably not, but who knows? You’ve already met the bobcat and the fisher and the coyotes and the deer. Bunnies and raccoons. Snakes. Lizards. Millions of mice and rude chipmunks.

This was farmland. You know because between the trees, there are stone fences which once defined fields. The farms are 100 years gone. Today, it’s your own backyard. Which you’ve never explored because there’s no path, plenty of thorns, and trillions of mosquitoes.

Finally, you look around: “Who is coming with me?” That’s when you notice that your exploration group are lying on lawn chairs. Drinking coke, beer, and lemonade.

“Too hot,” says Michelle.

“I’m all sweaty in my shorts and tee,” points out your granddaughter. “No way am I wearing all that stuff. Give it up Granny.”

Are they laughing at you? No reason why not because you are laughing at you.

And so another year of non-exploration passes. Whatever lives exist out there shall remain undisturbed by human traffic. If snakes undulate in the undergrowth besides the giant rocks? Go in peace, scaly friends. It’s your world.

Pass the lemonade.

WHY DID I HAVE THAT PARTICULAR DREAM LAST NIGHT?

Dreams are as personal as anything gets. Normal dreams are some kind of weird, twisted personal experience, set in a hazy backdrop of ordinary things turned upside down or sideways. This particular dream was unique because it wasn’t personal. 


It was a real dream — I’m not making this up — which wasn’t about me and mine, except tangentially. It was the “all of us,” the giant “we” of the world. I didn’t like it. It made me angry. Sad. I don’t know which emotion was stronger or more painful, but probably the sadness which I am still feeling.

Last foliage – November 8

Last night I dreamed about the world. Not our personal, individual world. It was about the “real world” of politics and malaise. I dreamed about migrant workers who pick grapes and were starving because the pay they got was not enough to live on. I dreamed about a bunch of people I was supposed to be caring for.  For whom I had been preparing special food, but when I went to eat something, they snatched the food off the plate and ate it before I could. And laughed because they thought it was hilarious.

I thought: “I’ve been spending my days trying to make their lives better, yet when I want something, they take it and laugh.” Not a happy moment.

I woke up twice. Tried to shake the dream. It was not exactly a nightmare, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant.

I remember at one point, my guests in this big hazy house in which I was living were throwing food away … and the migrant workers were starving. When I suggested we give them the food, they laughed again.

November 18th — 10 days later

And I woke up thinking: “Why, in this country, is waste acceptable … but charity is scorned?”

Why are we so uncharitable? Why are we so uncaring, so unloving, so cruel? What is wrong with us? How did I stumble into this place I do not understand?

Why did I have that particular, strangely impersonal dream?  It is hours later. I’m still wondering.

What is wrong with us?

ANOTHER GREY DAY – ATMOSPHERIC MORNING

When I was a kid, I had a book. It was published by Disney and this was a long time before Disney became the big name it is today. It was called “Seasons” — or something like that. What was impressive were the drawings.

Each chapter (a couple of pages, large print) was a drawing with a short description of the month. Clearly, the drawings were from somewhere in this area — obviously New England or someplace similar.

I always remember November. It showed an almost empty field. Trees, standing naked except for clinging brown leaves … and wind. A couple of “people” (Disney anti-humans) holding their coats closed and heading into the wind.

No picture I’ve ever seen of November has so well captured that grey, chilly mood of this month. It is that kind of day.