Following seas

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Say, "Ahh…"

My husband John and I put our little boat in at Rye Harbor yesterday and traveled north to the wide mouth of the Piscataqua River, cut the motor, drifted out on the current and ate our picnic lunch of Joe's Meat Shoppe subs. 

I gave the dog the stub of my Italian.

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Whaleback Light

This lighthouse was built of granite in 1872 and is 50 feet tall. 

History, plus cool storm photos at the bottom.

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Maine side of the Piscataqua River

We stuck to the north side of the Piscataqua and slipped behind Seavey Island in the back channel.  It was a bright and beautiful day.

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Houses and boats in Kittery

To our north, the first town in Maine.  To our south, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey Island, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire across the main part of the Piscataqua.

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Zeus on the bow

About to go under a bridge between the Maine mainland and Seavey Island.

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A long boat at dock

Kittery was settled in 1623 and incorporated in 1647.

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Lobster traps on a dock at low tide

Always nice to cruise along a working waterfront.

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I-95 bridge between New Hampshire and Maine

Not a drawbridge because it's high enough.

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House and boat house

I took mostly photos of the north bank because of where the sun was angling to illuminate.

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Power plant on the Piscataqua

I believe this one is wood-fired.  It smells like Christmas trees. 

The rip currents, eddies and whirlpools are intense at this river bend.  We stopped to drop a couple of lines on a bunch of fish we spotted on the fish finder, but the current whipped us along disconcertingly fast and we spun around in 360's in three different whirlpools.

So we moved further up river where we found shallow water near a north shore marsh and woods, probably in Eliot, Maine, and cast on small surface feeding bluefish.  No luck but it was fun to watch them darting around the boat.

A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book what would it be?  I always say 'How to Build a Boat."

– Stephen Wright


Photos from another shoreline last year: New England seaside vernacular

Head’s up

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Shoreline of the Piscataqua River, Kittery, Maine

A photo from our boat trip today.  More pics tomorrow.

Bee +

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The secret life of bumblebees

Where do bumblebees go at night?  I have been religiously deadheading my patch of Cosmos sulphureus 'Diablo' and so I have discovered the answer, at least partly. 

If I am out in the patch in the evening, night or very early morning (this is a morning photo) I find sleeping bumblebees.  They hug the flower petals, on top or underneath, with the 'toes' of their six insect legs curled around the petal edges.  They keep utterly still, even if I bump them accidentally while cutting away the dead flowers.

Bumblebees have nests, smaller usually than the hives of honey bees, and located in trees, holes in the ground, tussocks of grass.  According to Wikipedia, the bumblebees that don't return to the nests at night are new queens and males that have left the colony after maturation (or been kicked out) but not yet established digs of their own.  Think of them as apid teenagers or twenty-somethings.

Bumblebees can sting (repeatedly, not just once) but are not very aggressive and do so rarely.  I put my hands, with scissors, right among the flowers in the middle of the day when they are awake and busy but I've never been stung.  I try to give off my good intentions, thinking to them: "Look, dear bees, I'm making more flowers for you, to last till November if we're lucky."

Bumblebees are classified as members of the Apidae family, subfamily Apinae like most bees (not wasps, which are vespids), and of the tribe Bombini and the genus Bombus, including more than 250 bumblebee species in the world.

A good read, including a handy sting pain index at the end:

Stung: How tiny little insects get us to do exactly as they wish.


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My cosmos are diabolically orange

Students in School Administrative Unit 21 are out from underfoot at home and back in classrooms today.  Which made me remember this recent read from The Onion:

6-Year-Old Stares Down Bottomless Abyss of Formal Schooling

Local first-grader Connor Bolduc, 6, experienced the first inkling
of a coming lifetime of existential dread Monday upon recognizing his
cruel destiny to participate in compulsory education for the better
part of the next two decades, sources reported.

Mwa-ha-ha!  It's good to be old.

At my husband's request – "seems like I miss all the good stuff," he emailed from Puerto Rico this morning – I took a few photos of Laura getting on the bus.  The big difference from those first precious kindergarten bus photos: serious amounts of mascara.

At the end of the last school year, when she was a mere humble freshman, Laura's Latin teacher warned her that the word sophomore means, literally, 'wise fool'… from the Greek words sophos (wise) and moros (fool).  Laura thinks maybe she'll start a Facebook group called "Wise Fools."

Also soon to be a sophomore, but in college, daughter Anna is back from Canada as of yesterday afternoon, with some Aero bars and Coffee Crisps for us.  "You missed the Olympics," I said.

She was wearing a white t-shirt, short black skirt, a man's suit vest, a pair of badass black leather buckled boots, and a green tweed cap atop her long red braid.  She was dropped off with a couple of huge duffles and a fairly small bag of dirty laundry.  Somehow – with a little help from her friends and a ride on a train – she made it from camp near Niagara Falls to Toronto to Montreal to the Seacoast of New Hampshire.

"I can't wait to go back to college, double major in Classics and Theater, minor in Music, make movies for the campus TV station, get a part-time job, volunteer for something worthwhile, audition for some plays, start a jazz combo to play in Portsmouth restaurants, and go to Montreal my junior year, maybe to do an exchange at McGill."

Wow, I do believe the kid has a plan.

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell, brand new shoes, walkin' blues, climb the fence, books and pens, I can tell that we are gonna be friends

A beauty and a beast

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The dreaded purple loosestrife, blooming now all over the place

Lythrum salicaria is an invasive species that grows fast and spreads like wildfire in freshwater wetlands, crowding out native plants, disrupting the flow of water, attacking pets and devouring small children.

OK, kidding about the last two.

The Plant Conservation Alliance of the National Park Service named purple loosestrife a Least Wanted alien – even if it is kind of pretty.  A mature plant can produce two or three million seeds a year, and also spreads vegetatively underground at the rate of about a foot per year.

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England

New Hampshire DES: Purple Loosestrife: An Exotic Menace

There are many things you can do to help prevent the spread of purple loosestrife. The first step is to recognize it. Purple loosestrife is most easily identified when in bloom (July and August), before it goes to seed. The second step is to report it.
If a large infestation is identified, you can contact the departments
of Agriculture, Transportation or Environmental Services. Mapping the
infestation is helpful as well. The third step is to remove it. Check with authorities prior to removal to determine what permits may be needed and how best to proceed.

Just leaving

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Swamp maple leaf, this morning

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Looking across the pond

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Looking into the red maple swamp

Acer rubrum, swamp or red maples, are beginning to change.  Seems early to me this year.

Hunt this weed

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Sweet annie along Route 1A, Seacoast NH

My sister Ann identified this as sweet annie, an artemisia, when we were out for a walk one day earlier this summer.

"Grab some, rub it and smell your hands," she said.

I did.  And you should too, if you have a chance.  It's sharp and sweet – a heady summer scent.  And growing tall and weedy right along the sidewalks, rocks and seaside paths.

It can be dried and preserved.  Sometimes it is sold in bunches at farmers' markets.

Artemisia is named for Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon, wilderness, fertility and the hunt.

Up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude

Stringhole

Wall fall down

I had a couple of articles in the Exeter News-Letter this morning, filling in for a vacationing staff writer:

Repairs are under way at 4 String Bridge, where part of an old foundation wall collapsed into the Squamscott River in July.

Google maps satellite view: String Bridge

Black goo seeping into the Squamscott River near the Swasey Parkway
pavilion has been identified as coal tar from an old gas plant on Water
Street that closed many years ago.

Want to know more about Exeter and environs? Exeter expert: Lara Bricker