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.

DON’T TAKE THE BAIT – RICH PASCHALL

Keep Right On Going, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


If you are a fisherman, and perhaps even if you are not, you can understand the frustration that comes with the sport. That is, you go out knowing fish are swimming all around you. Maybe a lot of them and you are ready to reel them in.  You bait the hook and drop it in amongst all those lovely fish and you wait … and wait. Nothing happens.  It is as if Charlie Tuna or some holy mackerel was there, warning off all the others to avoid your bait.

“This is good bait,” you may think.  “It is big and tempting and the sea creatures should flock to it,” but they just smirk and swim off to visit other old timers to see if their little fishes are off in schools somewhere else.

Avoid the bait

This is how we should be too.  We should stop taking the bait, but sometimes we do anyway. The consternation begins.  I am talking about social media and social conversation.  There is always someone lobbing bait in the water. It’s up to us to keep swimming.  No good comes from getting hooked.

It would appear that many throw out the bait on Facebook or Twitter — or whatever platform they prefer — knowing they will start an argument amongst friends and acquaintances.  In this politically charged “us versus them” environment fostered and encouraged by 45 and his ilk, there are always those waiting for someone to take the bait. Their posts can be filled with political arguments.  None are worthy of the time, but some play it like a sport.  It is almost like taking your boat out on Lake Michigan hoping to land a big one.  You are likely to end up with carp or alewives, of course.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whether you are posting something in favor of POTUS or against, there is someone ready to take the bait and tug on the line.  While an astounding number of people are not in favor of the current pretender to the throne, he still has some rabid supporters who are willing to dangle the bait or take it themselves and the battle is on.  These battles of back and forth with the fish can get rather rowdy and sometimes Facebook or whoever has to step in and stop the battle from going on.

Soon after the terrible display of hate in Charlottesville, I posted a brief piece I saw about how the USA helped defeat the Nazis in World War 2.  I thought it was important to remember (or to learn) what that was all about.  I know exactly what my parents would have thought of recent events.  My father fought in World War II.  It is terrible, in my opinion, that people would carry the Nazi flags on our streets after the 1940’s but perhaps some forgot.  I had no idea I was dangling bait for the alt-right.

What followed my post was a long series of comments by a few people who conducted a mean-spirited, name-calling “debate.”  I could not keep up with it or monitor the frequent comments, which apparently turned threatening.  After someone complained, Facebook stepped in and removed the most egregious comments.  At my first opportunity, I removed the post completely.  History really is not debatable nor is it worth threatening someone, but that’s the road we’ve gone down.

Due to my stance on some topics, or my willingness to take the bait on a few occasions, I guess I have lost a few friends.  I can’t say it really bothers me.  If you are that bigoted, whether your opinion is based on some misinterpretation of history or the Bible or some other religion, I guess it’s best I swim on by. I’m too old to have this stress in my life.  Be careful. You never know when some fish might pull you into the water.

Until recently, I used to get together a few times a month with someone I have known since childhood. He’s a bit right of center politically, but we had mostly avoided political arguments. That changed in the current social climate. He has taken to dangling bait.  I was playing along for a while, but I now see the futility of this endeavor.

It will start with my friend saying something about 45 or other right-wing topic.  I might respond, “As a former military man, how do you feel about 45 making comments about North Korea that also seem to give up military secrets?”  It is a reasonable question, I think, but it only proves that I have taken the bait.

“What about Obama?” he might reply.  “You never said anything about Obama when he was in office.”

“Yes I did,” I usually point out.

“I never heard it.”

“You never listen to my side.”

“And what about Rahm (Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago)? What about that?” He will say in a voice somewhat louder.

“What does this have to do with 45 and North Korea?” I may inquire to try to steer the conversation back around, but it’s too late.  I am already on the line.

ME AND MY UKULELE – AND ABOUT THOSE FISH!

72-Heron_137
Heron … with fish.

I do not fish, though obviously in a valley full of rivers and dams, other people fish. As do herons and gulls and divers (the ducks, not the Navy guys). I’m a little dubious about the quality of the water and what might be in those fish, but people assure me they’ve been eating them for years … and apparently no harm has come to them.

I, on the other hand, know what’s in that water, so I just smile weakly and wish them good luck and a pleasant dinner. I’m not that fond of trout anyhow.

Rather than fishing, I like making music. Not so much listening to it, though I do that too … but making it. Plucking strings, tinkling the (fake) ivories. Blowing my own horn. And it is in the service of making music that I now have a lovely little tenor ukulele.

Me and the ukulele have history going way back. I picked up my first soprano uke at Sam Goody in Hempstead when I was still in college. I was a piano student, but pianos are not portable. It was, after all, the folk music era and unless, as Tom Lehrer suggested you want to view the piano as an 88 string guitar, it just doesn’t make it as a folk instrument. To be fair, the ukulele isn’t entirely a folk instrument either, but it’s a lot closer than a living room grand Steinway.

I wanted a small, light, fun instrument I could take with me so I could, assuming I could tune to whatever key other more sophisticated pluckers were in, I could join.  There’s no instrument lighter, more portable, easier, and more fun than a ukulele. And what other instrument conjures dreams of diamond bright beaches and tropical sunsets? Powerful symbolism for a littler, 4-string strumming instrument.

72-case-ukulele-13112016_03-2

Around the same time, I bought a guitar and more or less learned to play it, though I was never by any definition a good player. No idea what happened to my uke. I know I sold the guitar. Afterwards, I went home to the piano. My hands felt right on the keyboard.

Years rolled on. I sold my Steinway grand. I had no instrument in Israel, except a miniature electric keyboard that was more a toy than a real music maker. Then, when we were living in the Boston townhouse, Garry and Owen bought me the Yamaha Clavinova which has been with me for the past 23 years.

72-Piano_23

Until this past week. When I sold it to Owen’s friend, Dave, who was looking at it all dewy-eyed. He has M.S. and keyboards are the way he keeps his hands moving and useful, something I can relate to painfully (no pun intended) well. I have not been able to play my piano for a a couple of years. The arthritis in my hands has caught up with me. Unless I have further surgery — and it works, always a bit dicey — the pain of playing takes all the fun out of it. Who knew hands could hurt that much? I thought it was my wrists, that I had carpel tunnel problems, but it isn’t. It’s hands full of calcification of all those little bones.

Almost every pianist over the age of 60 has arthritic hands. Some worse than others and you can blame DNA for whether it’s completely disabling from a musical point of view, or just inconvenient. You don’t see a lot of old concert pianists … and that’s why. All that stretching and pounding from when you are just past being a toddler damages little bones and if you are, as I am, inclined to arthritis anyhow … well …

Meanwhile, the itch to get another ukulele has been growing. The uke is small enough to not put a lot of strain on me (or my budget). Nor does it require significant hand strength or dexterity — unlike the piano. A classy, hand-made solid wood ukulele is not cheap. I’ve seen some beauties that cost a couple of thousand dollars, but you can also pick up a nice little uke on which you can learn and which will sound pretty good to the less discerning ear, for around $100. Using a bit of the money from selling the piano, I found a nice, solid mahogany, tenor ukulele. It arrived a couple of days ago, and so began my ukulele adventure.

72-glowing-ukulele-13112016_09

I had also bought an electronic tuner, a book of chords for beginners, a package of picks, and a hard case. I once had a nice guitar that some guest at a party kicked in, presumably accidentally. I never found out who done it, but live and learn. I buy protective cases for instruments.

Next step was to tune it. How exactly was I supposed to use the electronic tuning device? More to the point, to what part of the uke do you clip it? The “instructions” included with it were sheer poetry, and probably a direct translations from whatever Asian tongue in which they were originally written. Poetic, but uninformative.

I knew that you are supposed to clip the tuner to some part of the ukulele, but where?


“Position the tuner by clip on the part of the musical instrument which vibrates distinctly, adjust until you can see the LCD clearly.”

How about a picture? Diagram? Name of part?

I went back to the devices listing on Austin Bazaar’s website from which I bought it. Nothing. Apparently everyone but me already knows how to use it. So I went to Amazon and kept looking at electronic tuners until someone showed a picture of a tuner in use.

ukulele-tuner

Aha! Mystery solved. I set the tuner to “U” for ukulele and began the tuning process. The tuner worked. When I get a string tuned to the correct note, the machine flashes neon green.

72-ukulele-13112016_05

Took me about 15 minutes. New strings are stretchy, but I got it. Then, I took out the book of chords. I tried a few, then started muttering to myself. “That’s weird. The chords are all upside down. ”

Something was upside down, but it wasn’t the chords. I had tuned the strings upside down.

I retuned the instrument. It was easier the second time, especially because I was tuning the correct strings to the appropriate notes.

73-ukulele-13112016_0

I learned three chords, realized I needed to clip the nails on my left hand or I wasn’t going to be able to hold the strings tight on the frets. By the time I finished that, it was time to cook dinner. The next morning, I dislocated my unhealed breastbone.

So the ukulele will have to wait awhile. A few days, anyway.

At least it’s in tune. Right-side up.

The next time I go fishing, I will bring the ukulele. If I sing to them, fish will rise to the surface and sing along. That’s what fish do, here in the valley. No, really, they do. (Not.)

FISHING AND STRUMMING| THE DAILY POST

ON THE RIVER

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

I started as I always do, half asleep on Suzanne’s comfortable sofa, listening to her hypnotic, melodious voice. She was moving me backward in time, past my birth in this world to another time, another place, another lifetime.  This wasn’t my first past life regression. I’d been down this road before and wondered who — and when — I would be …

– – – – –

Standing on the riverbank. Wiggling my naked brown toes in the long marsh grass, prickly under my bare feet. Doesn’t bother me. My feet are hard from running barefoot, as good as shoe leather. I’m watching the brown, slow-moving river as it rolls along. I live by this river. It’s my friend, my companion. Today, it’s going to give me something special. I am thinking hard about how I’m gonna make it happen. I’m thinking about fish.

River Reeds 1

The pole is a bit rough in my hands, but it’s perfect for me. It oughtta be. Cause I made it myself from a sapling near my house. More a shack, I guess. Everyone I know lives the same, in some kind of place built of leftover stuff — sheet metal and boards from shipping crates. And anything else we scrounge. You can find all kinds of stuff in the swamp and it’s just amazing how many kinds of scraps you can use to make a home. A nice home. Cozy. Dry in the rain.

The weather is damp and warm and I’m a little sweaty. The air is still. No wind. I like when it’s real quiet. All I hear are humming bugs and a few birds. Sounds I hear all the time, nothing to take my attention away from what I want. A big fat fish. I have a real hankering for fish for tonight’s supper. If I want to eat it, I’ll have to catch it.

Is this a good place? I can tell by looking. If there are rings on the water, that means fish have come up to the top to snap at bugs. Oh! There’s one! Big one, I think. Over there, at the bend where the pool is deep, one of the few deep parts of this muddy old river.

I have to stay quiet. Not scare the fish. Most folks don’t realize it, don’t know fish hear us just fine. You don’t see their ears, but they have’em. All the stuff we say, the noise we make … well, fish know we’re here and swim off if we make a fuss.

I creep over to the pool, grab one of the big wriggly worms from out my pocket. I collected’em early, when the air was cool and damp like night. That’s when the big crawlers come up, before the sun is hot.

All the fish are gonna want this fat worm, just you see.

Plink. In goes the string. I wait. Swoosh the line a little, back and forth. Fish like to chase things. I know.

Aha! I got one! Careful now, careful, slow, bring the head up. Ooh, big one, don’t want to snap the line. Gonna get me some stronger line sometime, when I have a few cents to buy something at the store. Focus, focus, focus.

There he is! Got’em! GOT HIM GOOD! There’s gonna be a fine dinner tonight!

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Gloucester — The Cape Ann Fleet

Fleet boats at the dock.

From the earliest settlement days in New England, Gloucester has been nearly synonymous with “fishing fleet.”

The shoals extend far out to sea. These are dangerous waters.
Storms along these shores are infamous and no less dangerous now than in centuries past.

To be a Gloucesterman was to be revered as among the bravest of the doughty New England fisherman to put out to sea.

Still a busy port in the new millennium.

Whaling was one of the most important original industries through coastal New England and along with it, all other kinds of fish. The didn’t name Cape Cod after raccoon or deer.

There are two lighthouses nearby, neither visible. One is to the left and the other nearly straight ahead but hidden by a mist which always seems to hang over the water on even the clearest day.
Soon, out to sea.

While we stayed in Rockport, we visited Gloucester, which is “next door” and just down the road. Some pictures from the visit … summertime along a rocky New England shore.

There are many legends and stories associated with this shoreline, some true, some tall tales, some where the truth is impossible to know.

Walking on these rocks can be treacherous too. The ocean can quite unexpectedly come up over the rocks, making them slippery as ice.

Rumor says that “shore pirates” would wave lanterns on this shoreline to lure ships onto the rocks so that the marauders could steal the cargo. Such stories are so widespread that there is probably truth in at least some of them, but no one is left alive to tell the true tale.

Nearby Rockport, very early in the morning.