Thursday, June 25, 2009

Screw All This Rain

The Black Eyed Susans that have made a home on the banking next to the lower drive have decided, "Screw all this rain, we have to bloom."

It is not raining at the moment. I only make note of this because a day without rain is a rare thing recently here in my part of the World. Life will normalize later when the new front and trough move our way and settle in for another week of lousy weather. And what's this I see? Blue sky? My eyes have become so used to the dark over the last 25 days, I will need sunglasses if I hope to not go blind when I step out of my door.

Whew! That was close. Blue Skies only visited briefly. Like a ship passing in the night, they have moved on to make a beautiful day over the Atlantic. Guess the ocean needs the blue shining love of clear skies more than we do. I now am safe to head outside without doffing serious UV protective gels, lotions and lenses to keep the unfamiliar Sunshine from touching my pasty rotund white boy body. Besides, I have begun to accept and almost even embrace the fancy new kinds of molds and fungi that are beginning to appear on anything made of living or previously living material. I guess there is an upside to rain 24/7 for three weeks.

To point out that this weather is affecting my bike shop would be an obvious understatement. But this post is not to whine about lack of business, but rather to whine about all the GD water that has been falling out of the sky in recent weeks. Damn that Jet Stream! All I ask is a shift of about 100 miles to the east or west for a few days. My lawn could use a good trimming.

See Ya............
(311 / 2106)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Orchid

I was walking with Stub across the road from the house In Mary's Woods a couple of weeks ago. I know this small parcel of land very well. I have been stomping around there going on 40 years. So I notice when something is out of place, or some new change has happened.

Near the intersection of Trail #1 and Trail #2, I noticed about 50 yards off the trail some stakes had been driven into the ground. I walked over and inside the border of wooden stakes marked with orange surveyors tape, I found several small patches of an unusual plant I had never seen before. The stewards of this small nature preserve had obviously found a special plant. A plant they felt was worthy enough to identify for future perusal.

It is nothing special in the scheme of cool plants that grow everywhere up here. But the fact that I have been screwing around in the woods of Maine and New Hampshire for most of my life now, I had never seen this particular plant. So I went home and tried to look it up........Right. With over 400 plants on Maine's rare plant list, I knew it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. After several lengthy sessions of Internet searching, I gave up. I ended up asking Carl, one of the stewards of Mary's Preserve, what was up with the stakes. Rattlesnake plant was his answer. And yes, it is fairly rare here in Maine, especially this far south.

I mentioned to Carl he may want to remove the stakes. Some flounder is likely to dig them up and try and replant them in their dooryard. He agreed and will remove the stakes and replace them with a simple marker only seen once one is almost on top of them.

Okay, I had a name now. There are plants all over the World with "rattlesnake" in their name. I guess that diamond pattern is a popular go to pattern for plants as well as snakes. Sifting through them took some time, but eventually I found a picture and a real name for the plant.

Goodyera Repens is an orchid that has to have just the right combination of conditions to make a stand in the wild. They seem to only be found in cooler northern climes in boreal forests at least 95 years old. They do not tolerate being disturbed. Logging, soil changes, etc will wipe them out in a heartbeat. It takes about 7 years for a plant to mature enough to flower. With the single stalk in bloom, they stand a stately 30cm or so. For you metrically challenged folks out there, that translates to around a foot tall.

What is really interesting I guess is that while finding this rare plant not more than a 5 minute walk from my dooryard is cool and all, what really fascinates me is how much information can be deduced from it's discovery. I knew Mary's Woods had once been farm land. There are old pictures taken from our hill back in the late 1800s. In every direction were fields. North, South, East, West - fields as far as the eye could see. Now there are nothing but huge trees and dense pucker. Mary's Woods is one of the few areas that has never had serious pucker. Just big white pines as a canopy and short undergrowth at ground level. This plant taking up residence in those woods tells me it has been at least a century since that land was tilled. Another mystery I sometimes wondered about has been patially solved.


(604 / 1795)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Motorcycle Week

This past week was motorcycle week over to Weir's Beach in Laconia, New Hampshire. Umpteen thousands of crazed bikers gather on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee to drink beer, show off their tits and fondle chromed encrusted machinery that has no other purpose but to look good and feel good at 2500 rpms through those favorite jeans only pulled out for special occasions like this.

I live just 35 miles or so as the crow flies from the normally staid and conservative Weir's Beach. Living on the major conduit there from southern Maine, I have had the pleasure, no - strike that - I have had to endure thousands of Bikers cruising through my small town either going to get drunk for a week or coming home after being drunk for a week. Convoys of Harley's, Choppers, rice rockets, and even mopeds numbering in the hundreds have passed by my bike shop. Exhausts so loud, conversations indoors became shouting matches until the numerous processions had passed by.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the draw. I can relate to the need to let it all hang out. I can, or could party as hard as the next guy. And all that stuff is fine. What I don't get is, why are straight pipes with not one iota of muffling considered cool? About the dumbest upgrade I can think of would be to turn an already noisy machine into an ear splitting, brain numbing stupidly louder machine. And then to ride with 50 other stupidly loud machines hundreds of miles in a group. I just do not get it. Didn't get it even back in the day when I owned motorcycles and enjoyed the taste of an occasional fat June bug between my teeth. No more blatant and obnoxious example of in your face pollution than a Harley running a too lean fuel mixture through straight pipes at 50 mph. It's just painful to experience. Physically painful.

The motorcycle rally at Laconia (Weir's Beach) is the oldest continuous event of it's kind in the nation. The first rally was held in 1917. Back then the cool biker dudes and dudettes called themselves "The Gypsies". I wonder if that first crowd had mullets also? Seems they are required doo's now if you are going to play with the big dogs. Also required is that every biker chick must wear a bikini top for those "show us your tits" moments that crowd seems to get off on. You know they are feeling no pain when they cruise around town by foot or on their bikes with a 16 ounce Bud Long Neck stuffed deep in their cleavage while sporting Bud bottle cap pasties. Ouch.

So let's flip this around some. I have imparted my low opinion of loud motorcycles and how I just don't understand the attraction. I have shown extreme condescension for the hairstyles of choice and the over the top need to expose body parts to anyone whether they are interested or not. I have lifted my nose and sniffed as only one trying to be snobbish can sniff.

And then I looked at myself in the mirror. Let's see. I still have mud all over my legs from riding my mountain bike in the woods 10 hours ago in the rain with 7 other crazed riders. I consider the leg burning pain of a steep hill climb as almost a sensual experience. I like nothing better than cresting a hill out of breath with eyes bulging wondering if I will puke this time or not. I often go into stores wearing skin tight lycra and spandex outerwear stretched to it's limit around a body no would care to look at. Instead of picking bugs out of my teeth, I often pick leaves and other forest flotsam out of my mouth. And my sport of choice is populated primarily by males. No biker chicks hanging off my rig wearing Bud caps as pasties. So who is cool and who is not? Hmm. At least I am quiet. Nothing but the sound of bike parts rattling over the roots and rocks and the raspy sound of an aging set of lungs forcing themselves to limits past what many would consider sane. That alone makes it worth it.

I am sure the bikers have similar feelings. Their chosen recreational release may seem foreign and make no sense to me, but I would guess that when they see me pop out of the woods onto the shoulder of Rte 109, they think, "Dumbass - get a motor for that thing! And while you are at it, make it a loud motor."

Keep it 'tween the Ditches...................

(777 / 1191)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Conquering Hero

Here we have our intrepid hero contemplating his world as he is about to engage in dangerous warfare. Close combat weapons are secure in their scabbards and his trusty and lethal cultivator is firmly grasped. He knows he is as ready as he can be. He understands the risks of this next expedition. He knows he will come up against mantraps, IEDs hidden in small holes that will erupt without warning and flying shrapnel will sting him. Thorn ridden sinews will reach for his tender parts and attempt to shred him to pieces. His opponents have determination and endless resources to bring to their defense.

But our hero knows he has been living in fear for too long. The insidious invasion that started so long ago has reached a tipping point. He can no longer sit idly by while the enemy encroaches and claims more and more of his once grand land. They have shown their disdain for the borders he set up so long ago. Their only goal is to bury him. He knows that now. They have awakened the sleeping fat guy from his sloth like existence. There will be death and destruction. And it will not be his.

The battle waged was ugly. Evil deeds were committed by both sides. But on this day our hero prevailed. And though the War has only begun, he has sent a strong message to his opponents. He will not be overwhelmed. He will not give up one more square foot of land. He will drive them out. He has proven he can sink to their level and give as good as he gets, no matter how much of his blood is spilled.

A nervous truce has been called while both sides fall back and re-group for the next big encounter. While the savages of the jungle hunker down and peek out from the fringes of their territory, they will notice our hero has erected funeral pyres built with the flesh of their fallen comrades. He will let them rot there as a reminder of what he has planned for those still surviving. And one night when the mist hangs heavy in the air, he will touch a flame to their rotting flesh. Flames made up of their friends and family will reach for the sky. Our hero will paint his face with their ashes and do a little dance.

War is always ugly. But sometimes it is the only way Peace can be found.

Figured at least some kind of post was in order just to let those who care know I am still here and have not completely forgotten or given up on my blog. Bear with me. I will return with a vengeance at some point.