Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Spirit Lives

Good morning everyone and a Merry Christmas to you all. Our Christmas celebration is a simple one. Last night friends stopped by and Sawyer read us Clement Moore’s “Night Before Christmas”. Today we will open a few gifts, some hand made and a few that bring food to the tables of others. We eat good food with appreciation for those who have made it possible, the farmers and fisherman, the good Earth and bountiful seas. The elves have been burning the midnite oil for weeks and will sleep well tonite in the wake of cherubs who could not sleep a wink last nite in restless anticipation of the arrival of the Big Man, Mr. Magic himself, the spirit of the day, St Nicholas. I am humbled by the magnitude of generosity, kindness, and compassion that is generated and magnified this time of year. Clearly the spirit lives in our children and in child-like hearts around the world. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year may your blessings be many and may your heart be filled with the spirit of a child.

Be well. Do good. Have a very happy holiday.


Good morning everyone. The festival of Santa Lucia, patron saint of light, was this past Saturday, the 13th. This coincided with the largest tides of the year following the Full Cold Moon on Friday and the moon at perigee on the 12th. The range in Portland was a whopping 14.1’ on Saturday! The moon also happened to be riding high on Saturday well above the celestial equator. With just a little snow on the ground here in Appleton the full moon negates any need for a flashlight while walking to the barn to check the woodstove. All is bright and moon shadows through the trees tell me how clear the night is. Light is a precious commodity this time of year. Time to bulk up on the D vitamins to ward off the cabin fever. Winter has yet to begin and already we crave light on these darkest days of the year.

We take great comfort from lights. My guess is that we are the only household in town that lights an outdoor tree all year long. I’ll put our string of LEDs up against a stark white 60 watt bulb any day of the week. So the festival of Santa Lucia is a good one for us. It gives us the excuse to light a few more candles. When out on the water we enjoy lights of a different sort but gain the same comfort when we see them. Of course, I am talking about lighthouses. The hope that seaside beacons bring to sailors coming into a snug harbor is no less appreciated than the lights we string on our tree or the precious sunlight that will soon be headed north once again. In an age when GPS receivers seem all too dependable I find a greater comfort seeing Curtis Island Light standing its watch in Camden or the sectored light at Goose Rocks guarding the east entrance to the Fox Island Thorofare. I have been caught on more than one occasion singing holiday jingles aboard the schooner. And now you know… it is all about the lights.

The festival of Santa Lucia also gives us an excuse to make cookies. Jen has eased up on a few of the spices in the traditional recipe. I will continue testing a random sampling.

Have a great day. Be well. Do Good.

St. Lucia Spice Cookies

1 ¼ stick of butter
¬Ω c sugar
¬Ω c molasses
¬Ω c maple syrup

1 ¬Ω tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cloves

1 egg
1 tbsp baking powder
3 c flour

In a sauce pan melt the butter, maple syrup, molasses and sugar on low heat. Stir in the spices. While the butter mixture is cooling, whisk the egg in a bowl. Add the egg to the butter mixture. In a small bowl mix baking powder with one tbsp of water. It should fizz. Add the baking powder to the butter mixture. Stir in the flour to form a smooth dough. The dough should be refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Roll out the dough onto a floured board and cut with your favorite cookie cutters! Bake at 400 for approx. 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Windjammer Holidays

Good morning everyone. The holiday season has arrived in Camden with snow and a chilly northwest wind. St Nicholas Day was Saturday the 6th and the patron saint of children arrived by boat in the harbor. He also visited our house Saturday night where the kids had left their shoes by the door. So much for sleeping in Sunday morning.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors. He is also the patron saint of some less savory characters but that paradoxical twist only gives credence to the saint who looks after those of us who chose to put to sea for a living. As the story goes, Nicholas was a sailor aboard a ship caught in a storm and his prayers for relief from the tempest were answered. After arriving at the island of Myra Nicholas went straight to the nearest church to give thanks. One church elder had a vision that a man named Nicholas would arrive that day to become the new bishop and despite his young age he fit the vision and well… tag, your it! Nicholas continued to inspire his followers and many miracles were attributed to his work. A far as I am concerned the miracle is still with us as any of you who have seen a young child at the holidays know.

We took to the woods yesterday to get our fir tree and leave gifts for the woods on our favorite “giving” tree. This year we hung oranges, apples, crusts of Mary’s bread (a blessing for sure!), and pine cones rolled in bacon lard and bird seed. Having a wooden boat certainly gives one an appreciation for any living tree. I especially marvel at the red oaks and the white pines (both types found in Mary Day’s construction) stretching up 40 or 50 or 60 feet and without a limb for the first 20 feet. I will never see the boards from these trees but that matters not. I never saw the trees 40+ years ago that were already 60+ years old when they were cut. So one miracle of the season is the miracle of time… time with friends and family, time walking in the woods choosing just the right tree, time relaxing aboard a windjammer and knowing how those simple acts stretch backwards and forwards in ways that are not as tangible as a schooner. It is all good and I hope your holiday season is filled with the goodness of saint Nicholas.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Natural Cycles

Good morning everyone. The docks leading to the windjammers at the head of Camden Harbor were removed for the winter on the high tide yesterday afternoon. Many thanks to the town harbormaster and the crew from the highway department who pitch in to safely get these floats in and out so smoothly. I hauled the winter commuter skiff down to the sea wall and will make visits as frequently as possible. I spent Monday aboard winterizing and installing an emergency pump, just in case. I have heard tales from the old days when schooners mysteriously sprung a leak after a bad ice up. It has been so warm here that ice does not seem likely but I know freezing winter temperatures are just around the corner‚Ķso says the Old Farmers Almanac. Now that the docks are out we find it easier to settle into finishing some late fall onshore outdoor projects. There are several cords of firewood yet to split and stack, the garden to till, year end office madness, and leaves to rake. And so our lives and work are driven by the constant tension of the changing seasons. One observation… the achorns and pine cones are as abundant at our house as I have ever seen them. Like walking on ball bearings the achorns make it tricky to traverse the dooryard. I guess the white pines and red oaks had as much fun this summer as we did.

Now the harbor belongs to the winter residents, namely the many sea ducks that winter here. This pair of long tailed ducks was swimming together and I was able to sneak up on them with the help of a long lens. The Arctic tundra is where this couple breeds and they look a bit different in their summer home. The pink band on the male’s bill is more defined in the winter than in the summer and pictures I have seen show less white on the head in breeding plumage. People ask us what we do during the winter. I ask the ducks what they do during the summer. We actually do get to see these and several other Arctic ducks as they migrate during our early June natural history cruises. I don’t know if I will ever stop loving the sight of these critters skittering across Penobscot Bay on their way north. Their mysterious migration and annual winter visits remind me of the wildness in our universe and my heart leaps with joy to know it is so.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.