Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hazel Hill Orchard

Drew gets some tips from Tony as to how to read the apple tree availability map for the orchard.
Today, we went to Hazel Hill Orchard, 59 S. Livermore Rd., Turner, ME.  When we got there, my coworker, Tony Leavitt, met us and showed us around. The orchard sits on 3 acres of land (although, historically it was a huge orchard which stretched down to the road in the distance.) By the way, if you want to choose your own tree to harvest this year, call Tony at 207-500-3886. You can find him on Facebook @HarvestYourOwn Apples  
Orchard Name: One of Tony's grandmothers was named Hazel. And, coincidently, one of Jamela's grandmothers was named Hazel as well. So, hence the name Hazel Hill Orchard.

Upper Left: Gorgeous grounds surround the house with a few Cortland apple trees along the property line.
Right: Apple trees that are covered with vines. They are in the next uncovering phase of the project.
Bottom Left: Brush pile of cleared vines from part of the north side of the property.
The original orchard (about 200 acres?) was in full swing from the 1970s to about 2002, I believe. Then, a large chunk was sold off, and the remaining 3 acres was left, but not worked. Grape vines and other plants smothered the trees over time. Tony moved back to the area a few years ago and decided to get the remaining 3 acres producing again. In the photos above, you can see the brush pile of vines that covered a small section of trees that were "uncovered" so to speak. 

First, we picked one McIntosh tree for the Maine Project Learning Tree silent auction (to be held at Maine Audubon in Falmouth, on Sept. 14th) which Tony generously donated, to help us fund all the workshops we provide for teachers around the state. This tree has ginormous apples! It is a 3 bushel tree. It is labeled and ready for the highest bidder of the "Healthy Mainer" basket that I am assembling;-)

Upper Left: Cortland Tree that we chose for our personal picking this season.
Upper Right: Drew puts the sign on our tree so that nobody but us will pick it.
Bottom Left: Our sign. Of course, Drew named the tree. He chose Amelia Apple for her name.
Bottom Right: A couple of Cortland apples on "our" tree.
Then, we chose our Cortland Apple tree for picking (in early October.) Her name is Amelia. I think that Amelia's apples will be absolutely yummy! By the way, Neighbor Carla is going in with us on the apples.

Tony and I had to pose in front of the tree. I have the best friends. "Yay" to Apples!

Our tour wasn't over yet. Tony pulled out all the stops and showed his 1952 John Deere Tractor in action! Sweet;-)

We were treated like royalty and got to meet Tony's 92 year old mother, who is still gardening, canning, and taking care of her house. She was so gracious and gave us the history of the house and land. By the way, this was but one of several orchards owned by the Leavitt family, which goes back to Tony's grandfather.

Thanks Tony. We had a great visit and we can't wait to come back to pick some ripe apples within the next three to five weeks!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Next Solar Eclipse is April 8, 2024

Dear Mr. Superintendent, 

I just wanted to let you know that I will be taking a personal day on April 8, 2024. I think this will allow for plenty of time to get me a sub;-) I will be occupied with photographing the total solar eclipse which up in Houlton, Maine. Yahhhhhoooooo!!! (Let's hope for a sunny day;-)😎


Monday, August 21, 2017

Aug. 21, 2017 Partial Solar Eclipse

We had perfect weather for the solar eclipse, with an outdoor temp. of 82F, a partly cloudy sky, and no wind. Admittedly, we didn't prep enough for this event. Okay...we didn't do any prep! At the beginning of the eclipse Drew used a pair of binoculars to focus the light onto the front deck.
Shortly afterward, he remembered that his father had given him a small spotting scope many years ago. This worked much better as it had it's own tripod. We used a sheet of copy paper as a backdrop. NOTE: DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Even though the Sun is 93 million miles away, it's radiation packs a strong punch that can blind you.
Here you see an abbreviated progression of the occulation (where the moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, and blocks light from getting to Earth.) The photo on the bottom right shows the eclipse at maximum, at 2:45 pm.
In this next set of photos, we moved the camera equipment down to the walkway as we were getting too much interference from the trees near the deck. Had we done a dry run yesterday, we would have set up on the walkway from the beginning; we would have tracked the movement of the Sun to see if there was any obstruction of light, from trees, throughout the entire timing of the eclipse. (This is why I keep a diary...all of these notes will help us the next time we photograph an eclipse.)
While Drew was setting up on the walkway, I wandered out to the street to photograph the eclipse through the trees onto the road! Neato....
Now, the moon was beginning to move so as to allow more sunlight to reach Earth. We had more interference from trees as the sun began moving downward behind them. Oooohhh... do you see how the "bite" out of the Sun is getting smaller, and smaller, and then it is just the barest of a nibble?
And, at last...the sun is whole again;-) FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

Lastly, I'd like to dedicate the eclipse presentation to my good friend, Olle, who recently passed away. His funeral was today, in Sweden, and the eclipse sort of reminds me of how I feel with just a bit less sunshine in my life without his presence. But, then again, his smile always gave me warmth, just like the sun coming out of the eclipse. I miss you, Olle...

August 21, 2017 Partial Eclipse of the Sun Videos

Here are 10 second clips (real-time) showing sections of the eclipse from almost start to finish. We had partly cloudy weather and the clouds are moving rapidly across the sky in a few of the shots. Sooo pretty...

And here are all the clips, sped up, to show how much adjustment we had to make to keep the sun shining on the paper the entire time. We began the process at 1:50 pm, and completed it at 3:55 pm. We had 66% coverage of the Sun. (NOTE: The next time we photograph an eclipse, we need to put a shield around the scope, as a black-out curtain of sorts, to cut out the shadow of the scope.

Just an FYI: Earth revolves around the Sun at a speed of 18.5 miles per second. Meanwhile, the Moon revolves around Earth at a speed of 0.64 miles per second. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Getting ready for the partial solar eclipse

Here is a list of the solar and lunar eclipses visible in Bowdoin Center, Maine. First one is tomorrow! The next total solar eclipse is on April 8, 2024 and it will be visible from Houlton, Maine. Dear Superintendent, I want to put in for a personal day!

Gotta get prepared early! Today, we are going to hunt around the house for a surface that will show the sun's shadow at 2:45 pm. Then, tomorrow, if we are in luck, we'll shoot video of the partial eclipse through leaves, if possible. That would be cool!

How are you going to view the partial eclipse in Maine?

Cathance River Cardinal Flowers

We visited the Cathance River, over at Bowdoinham, and were pleasantly surprised to see cardinal flowers in full bloom at the water's edge.
No wonder I'm not successful in growing them in our parched yard. These flowers love getting their feet wet!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Popham Beach and a Moment of Zen

Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Even with all the turmoil in our country, natural beauty is a constant. In that, we can take solace...

Joke of the day 
Question: "What did the ocean say to the shore?"
Answer: "Nothing. It just waved!"

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Popham Beach in the Fog

Looking west toward the shoreline.
It was quite the foggy start to our day at Popham Beach. In fact, we couldn't even see Fox Island. The outdoor temp. was about 72F, and the water temp. was 62F.
Once we found Fox Island, the fog began to clear up a bit. It was still rolling across the beach, though, and was beautiful to watch.
People were enveloped in the fog along the water's edge.
I love this beach. The fog added an accent of mystery and beauty.

Herring Gulls at Popham Beach

There were lots of herring gulls at Popham Beach today. We saw adult gulls in breeding plumage with their brilliant white feathers and gorgeous eyes.
Who knew that you could see right through their nostrils to the other side!
And we saw lots of juvenile herring gulls with their dark brown plumage. They look so different from the adults.
This one was chasing after his parent, imploring her for food.
He was definitely saying, "Mom...why won't you feed me? Why?Why?Why?"
And, lastly, Junior showed us his mastery of flight.
This is the same bird as he flies close to the shore. Three shots in progression.
(Click on the panorama for a larger view.)
Junior cruises the shoreline in search of a bite to eat. 

The Many Moods of Fox Island

We always get to Popham Beach just before low tide, so that we can maximize our time walking along the sand bar and climbing on the rocks of Fox Island.
The island is only accessible at low tide, and is a very popular destination when coming to the beach.
It is a big granite outcropping with a large expanse of rock to traverse.
There are lots crevices to jump over...
and tiny caves to explore.
And, if you're a bird, the island gives you a great vantage point from which to keep an eye out for fishing boats filled with the daily catch.

Tide Pools of Fox Island

Fox Island has been around for millions of years. Thus, its surface has weathered due to water (in the form of ice, rain, and waves), wind, and organism activity.
The black, slippery cyanobacteria (Calothrix spp) covers the rock in the supralittoral zone (or splash zone). This most ancient organism is "coated with a slime that prevents them from getting dehydrated at low tide; this also makes the rocks slippery for tide pool-exploring humans." "This black stain marks the limit of high tide, as Calothrix can only tolerate salt water occasionally." 
Schmitt, Catherine. A Coastal Companion: A Year in the Gulf of Maine, From Cape Cod to Canada. Gardiner, Maine: Tilbury House Publishers, 2008. Print.

This weathering has produced depressions that form tide pools; places where water sits until high tide occurs again. Up in this area, water just splashes up from wave action.

The pools range from tiny, shallow puddles, to broad shallow depressions, to deep holes. 

Drew found one of these deeper holes that was about 12-18 inches deep. He tried using the Apeman motion camera underwater, but his attempt did not work this time. We have to keep practicing to really understand how close we can get to an object to still have it in focus. We are shooting blind, so to speak. And, it was so bright out that we couldn't look at the video that we had already taken. That just means that we're going to have to visit the beach again;-)

First I checked out this tide pool, but I wasn't satisfied with it. So, I moved further down into the slick, cyanobacteria covered section.

Because of the cyanobacteria coated rocks, it was super slippery and I couldn't get any traction with my hiking boots. So much so, that I had to inch my way to this tide pool whilst sliding along on my butt! 

Green algae (Ulva intestinalis aka Enteromorpha intestinalis), rock barnacles, red algae (Hildenbrandia spp),
and juvenile black snails (Littorina obtusata maybe;-)
Check out the oxygen bubbles produced by the photosynthesizing green algae!
I hung out at this shallower tide pool and took shots from the top of the pool. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring the polarizing filter (gee, we never bring quite everything we need;-), but was able to shade the surface sufficiently to capture some images. I believe the green algae is Ulva intestinalis aka Enteromorpha intestinalis? If so, this algae lives in many different habitats and takes on many different forms.

And, in these tide pools, various organisms, who can handle harsh conditions, thrive. I am not sure what the yellow, jelly-like looking organism is, that is covering the rocks. First I thought it might be related to some kind of encrusting tunicates?  Could the red, jelly-like organism be Hildebrandia spp (red crust algae?) I need to take a tide pooling course from a marine biologist. I have found a good resource blog titled, Between the tides of Nova Scotia. It has lots of photos of marine life. Another fabulous website resource is Rocky Intertidal Habitats Along The Coast of Maine, by Robert Zottoli, Professor Emeritus, Fitchburg University.

And, lastly this part of the pool with some brown algae, Fucus filliformis, fronds (I believe.)

Birds of a Feather Flock Together at Popham Beach

 I would be remiss if I didn't include these birds of a feather that flock together. 
I believe that the bird on the left is a juvenile Sanderling, along with the one in the middle.
I believe that the bird closest to the camera is a Semipalmated Sandpiper, as is the bird farthest back.
Now, my bird identification has proved to be incorrect each and every time I have attempted it,

so I could be wrong;-)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (I believe)

And, now for the two birds of a feather who have stuck it out through 27+ years of marriage and are still going strong. How? Shared interests in nature, photography, computers, clean living, and strong ethics.
Drew - experimental photographer, all around photographer, and iMovie maker.
Laurie - primary photographer
This is a photogenic as I get;-)
Hi Mom! Wish you were here!😎

A Pot of Gold - Tomatoes that is!

Ahhh... the sweet taste of Sun Gold tomatoes. 
The fruits of our labor in the partial eradication of tomato hornworms;-) I say "partial" because there is no way we'll get them all. But, at least we are trying to stay ahead of them as much as we can. I picked 1.5 pints of tomatoes this morning.