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Book of Days

BOOK OF DAYS: A POET AND NATURALIST TRIES TO FIND POETRY IN EVERY DAY

Filtering by Tag: Ragged Mountain

August 19: In the woods

Kristen Lindquist

I was up on Ragged Mountain today helping with some boundary work on a property Coastal Mountains Land Trust hopes to conserve. Indian Pipe (or Ghost Plant), a parasitic flower often associated with beech trees and now in bloom, was scattered throughout the forest understory.


Mountain understory--
dropped acorns and ghost plants
haunt last year's beech leaves.

October 20: After they saw the Wizard of Oz exhibit at the Farnsworth Museum

Kristen Lindquist

My mom and I took my two young nieces up the chair lift at the Camden Snow Bowl this morning, to enjoy the view from on high on Ragged Mountain: burnished golds of the foliage, glimpse of the bay and its islands.

She had to wear
her shiny new red shoes
up the mountain.

[Information on the Farnsworth's Wizard of Oz exhibit, which I haven't yet seen, here.]

March 3: Sun and snow

Kristen Lindquist

The sky brightens at Owls Head Lighthouse, as we look across the water toward the Camden Hills, where snowfall veils the summits of Bald and Ragged Mountains, and clouds hang heavy over Megunticook and Mount Battie. With spotting scopes we find offshore one loon beginning to get its spotted breeding plumage back, some guillemots, and a lone Razorbill.



Lone loon afloat on cold seas,
lowering clouds.
Our light won't last.


August 13: Summer afternoon

Kristen Lindquist

I'm standing on the edge of lawn and field looking up at the green slopes of Ragged Mountain. At the lawn's edge, blooming gladioli stand at glorious attention, and faces of tiger lilies peer through greenery. Hummingbirds chatter and buzz around the flower beds. Goldfinches rise and dip over the fields, singing non-stop, swarming the seed feeders. Overhead, birch trees against a blue sky. Butterflies flit in little circles around me, and in the distance, a family of bluebirds gathers on a branch. Tomorrow night we're having a party here, and at this moment, I can't imagine a more perfect place to be.

Butterflies, bluebirds,
birdsong--is this a set for
a Disney movie?

May 23: Young deer

Kristen Lindquist

The highlight of a bird walk I led this morning on Ragged Mountain wasn't a bird, although there were several cool birds--singing wood thrush, singing rose-breasted grosbeak, singing towhee, woodcocks flushed from a nest, a bluebird in a nest cavity, several warblers... As we walked up the woods road, a deer stepped out in front of us and looked our way. I thought at first it was a big doe, warm brown in her new summer coat. But looking through my binoculars, I could see it had little velvety nubs of horns: a young buck. His big ears swiveled as he tried to figure out what we were. We must have been downwind, because he began to slowly walk toward us, seemingly curious. We held still and watched, but not silently. He flicked his white tail but didn't bolt. Eventually he must have decided we were beneath his notice, and he melted into the woods. We never heard a sound, even as we walked past where he had entered the shelter of green leaves.
 
More aware than we
of all those birds in the leaves--
young deer, still fearless.

March 18: Into the woods

Kristen Lindquist

With temperatures in the 70s, a hike was in order. And apparently it was in order for everyone else in town, too, because my first choice for a hike--Bald Mountain--was over-booked, with cars spilling out of the parking lot and up the street. So I headed to one of the Ragged Mountain trailheads and happily found myself alone there. Well, with no human company, anyway, unless you count the guys training their bird dogs in a nearby field down the road.

I brought binoculars because with weird warm weather like this, I didn't know what new spring arrival I might come across. I was hoping for a phoebe or perhaps a fox sparrow. Instead, the first bird I saw was a Bohemian waxwing--a boreal breeder that often strays southward during the winter months. A small flock of seven birds hung out in the treetops near the parking area. As with the snowy owl I saw on Friday, they've been observed by many birders this winter. I just hadn't managed to come across any until today. I'm really pushing the envelope with my winter bird sightings this year. It made me feel that I was diverted to the other trail for this good reason alone: to appreciate the beauty of these winter visitors and enjoy their soft trills, even as I could also hear a brown creeper singing his sweet, clear spring song and a pileated woodpecker calling loudly from deep in the woods.

A red-tailed hawk soared over the parking area as I set off up the trail, probably one of the resident birds I see every time I come to this part of the mountain. I enjoyed a mellow walk through the awakening woods, relishing the almost-sensuous sunlight, the soft flapping of last year's clinging beech leaves, the clear, unfrozen stream, and a sense of peace among trees slowly stirring back to life. The occasional bird sang from amid still-bare branches, and I sometimes lost the path in my distraction, wandering here and there amid stands of slender trunks shining in the sunlight until I found another blue blaze.

Hiking down the trail--
everything looks different
than when I went up.


January 25: Turkeys in the woods

Kristen Lindquist

Hiking on Ragged Mountain this morning, we followed several lines of turkey tracks up a dirt road. Judging from the tracks, which proceeded straight up the road, these were determined turkeys who knew where they were going, no wandering out of line or straying into the woods. We saw no actual turkeys (though we did flush a grouse), just their tracks and scat--what they left behind.


Later, tromping around on the snowy crust in the woods, we came upon a fungus known as turkey tail looking particularly colorful against the snow, much as actual turkey feathers would have. This clump is barely larger than the size of one turkey track:

These colorful, layered fans are only a small part of the entire fungus, with most of the organism hidden within the bark of the tree on which it's living. Also, I think it's a little unusual to see a turkey tail in "full bloom" surrounded by snow, just as it would be to see a tom turkey fanning his tail this time of year. As with the birds and the simple etchings of their tracks, what we're seeing is not the whole story. 

Written on the snow:
beginnings of wild stories
about wild turkeys.









October 23: Conclave of Ravens

Kristen Lindquist

This morning I joined a group of friends for brunch atop Ragged Mountain. We rode up the chairlift two-by-two, with bags of bagels, a box of coffee, and sundry bagel spreads, and found a spot in the sun for our picnic. The sunlit fall foliage looked brighter, the bay sparkled in the distance, and we felt fortunate to have picked such a beautiful day for our outing.

View from Ragged Mountain to Penobscot Bay, Mount Battie 
At one point I noticed a swirl of dark birds in the sky above the summit of Ragged, to our northwest. I figured they were a kettle of vultures, which live in these mountains and are often seen soaring over the ridge line. This was, after all, a perfect day to ride thermals. But they weren't vultures, they were ravens. While ravens also live in the Camden Hills, it's unusual to see such a large group of them all together, hanging out, as it were. This time of year it could be a family group, or it could be a flock of young birds gathered to spend the winter together in a little corvid conclave. They were joined by a red-tailed hawk, which didn't seem to be interacting with them in an aggressive way. Rather, the birds seemed to be enjoying the unseasonably warm morning air together, much as we all were down below on the sunny ledge.

Twelve humans observe
nine ravens, all enjoying
sunny mountaintop.