At Home with the Loons

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for their very kind comments regarding my “Canadian Summer Series.”  There is nothing so gratifying to one who loves writing and photography than for someone to say “You took me there.” Every last one of your comments were a welcome companion as I charted my solo course through unfamiliar territory.

On a recent visit to the local Chinese Food take out joint, I received an amusing question in my fortune cookie (what ever happened to actual fortunes in fortune cookies??)  “If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is it naked or homeless?”  That sort of sums up what I felt like coming back from my summer in Canada….naked and homeless.IMG_2360

I met so many nice people traveling around Atlantic Canada, many of them full timers.   But as the end of August drew near, conversations turned toward “going home,”  much more so than with other destinations I have visited.  Typically, questions asked among full timers are more about “Where to next?”  But somehow, being on an island in a country other than our own, a sense of “homeward bound” was palpable. For the first time in four years, I felt a tinge of melancholy that there really was no “going home.”

Beautiful Portland Head Light, Maine's oldest lighthouse.

Beautiful Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse.

The lighthouse was first lit in January of 1791.

The lighthouse was first lit in January of 1791.

The lighthouse is located in Fort Williams Park, just south of downtown Portland.

The lighthouse is located in Fort Williams Park, just south of downtown Portland.

Gotta love a Longfellow poem about a lighthouse!

Gotta love a Longfellow poem about a lighthouse!

Ram Island Ledge Light, which sits offshore from Portland Head. First lit in 1905 by underwater cable, it is now solar powered.

Ram Island Ledge Light, which sits offshore from Portland Head. First lit in 1905 by underwater cable, it is now solar powered.

Not that I want to get off the road by any stretch, but just the concept of answering day after day, “Where are you from?” or “Where is home?”  serves as a constant reminder.  I always struggle when answering that question, as I don’t really have one.   Oh, sure, I can recite all the bumper sticker slogans, “Home is where you park it.”    But I really have no place to which I feel allegiance.  It’s certainly not Texas.  I left there as soon as I could. (Apologies to Mom, but she was the first to know.)  It’s not Manhattan.  Though it felt like home for the ten years I lived there, it belongs to the screen-enslaved, zombie-eyed, app-tapping millennials now.  Besides, I can barely afford to visit there, much less live there again.  And though I lived in Atlanta for eight years, it never felt like much more than a job relocation.

So where is “home?”   I must dig deep and test my own resolve in saying there really, truly is none. If I were to identify with any part of the US, it would have to be the Great Southwest.  But geez, that seems so very far away.  Being so far up the northeast corner of the US, it feels like I’ve climbed up into a tree and can’t figure out how to get back down.

Bridgton, Maine is filled with lovely old Victorian Farm houses.

Bridgton, Maine is filled with lovely old New England farm houses that follow the architectural design of “Big house, little house, back house, barn” also known as a “Connected Farm.”

IMG_2309

Main Street, Bridgton, Maine

Main Street, Bridgton, Maine

This is Carrye's "Tap House," but don't let the name fool you...she is a master mixologist! The sign leaning against the front door says "She believed she could, so she did."

This is Carrye’s “Tap House,” but don’t let the name fool you…she is a master mixologist! The sign leaning against the front door says “She believed she could, so she did.”

Stevens Brook, which offers a 2 mile trail connecting Highland Lake to Long Lake.

Stevens Brook, which offers a 2 mile trail connecting Highland Lake to Long Lake.

My friend John Wells directed me to this beautiful treehouse, built on his former property. The house was featured as an "Extreme Treehouse" in Popular Mechanics.

My friend John Wells directed me to this beautiful treehouse, built on his former property. The house was featured as an “Extreme Treehouse” in Popular Mechanics.

Bridgton was once a thriving mill town, and evidence of this can be seen along Stevens Brook.

Bridgton was once a thriving mill town, and evidence of this can be seen along Stevens Brook.

But still, it would be nice to have a place to just rest for a while.   I have driven every single day (with the exception of two days) since I crossed the Canadian border two months ago, and I am feeling weary.  I remember having this same feeling when I did my round-the-world jaunt back in 2002.  After being on the go for months, all I wanted was a place to stop and rest for a few days.  To restore some normalcy to my routine.  Toward the end of my journey, my friend Nancy offered up her work apartment just outside of Paris.  Here I was in the most famous city in the world, yet all I wanted to do was hole up on the couch and binge-watch the CNN loop for days.

Bridgton has some beautiful trails, this one my favorite through Pondicherry Park.

Bridgton has some beautiful trails, this one my favorite through Pondicherry Park.

This bridge leads from Main Street into the 66 acre reserve.

This bridge leads from Main Street into the 66 acre reserve.

A great place to meander on my daily walks....

A great place to meander on my daily walks….

....pondering life in Pondicherry Park.

….pondering life in Pondicherry Park.

My reason for leaving Canada when I did was due to a commitment to meet some dear friends for an end of summer reunion.   We would meet up at my friend Deb’s family cabin on Long Lake in western Maine.   As we sat around drinking wine one night, the subject of “Where are you headed next?” came up, for which my answer was “I have no idea, but I hope to emerge from this weekend, soaking my brain in wine and my feet in the lake, with some clarity.”   To this, Deb replied, “Why don’t you just stay here?  The rental season is done for the year, and you can have the place all to yourself.”

As far as temporary places to call home go, I couldn’t ask for a better one…IMG_2091

Favorite end of day at the end of the dock.

Favorite end of day at the end of the dock.

It is Maine, after all....

It is Maine, after all….

I found the perfect spot for my hammock in the trees alongside the boat ramp.

I found the perfect spot for my hammock in the trees alongside the boat ramp.

My hammock allowed for some great people watching. The sound of this boat ejecting it's trailer prematurely was eclipsed only by the screaming of the wife.

My hammock allowed for some great people watching. The sound of this boat ejecting it’s trailer prematurely and crashing onto the pavement was eclipsed only by the screaming of the wife.

Partiers out on the sand bar. No wonder the loons are alarmed!

Partiers out on the sand bar. No wonder the loons are alarmed!

It’s been a month now where I have spent my days exploring the trails and tales of local Mainers in the small town of Bridgton, Maine.  Evenings are typically spent on the dock where I sit in the Adirondack chairs, watching the clouds light up from brilliant fuchsia to soft pink to dusky lavender as the sun sets behind me.

Sitting here, I strain to listen for the mournful cry of the loons.  I had never heard one before this time on Long Lake, and now I’m enchanted. Their sounds are so engagingly haunting.  I love knowing what each call means….the eerie wail to signal a loved one that makes me think of the call of a lone wolf.  The alarming tremolo that signals potential danger.  Or the individual signature yodel of each male, his territorial claim.

But how do they compete over the cacophony of human noise?  I am on the shallow side of the lake, thankfully, so the boat traffic lane is across the lake.  But still I can hear motorcycles roaring along the roadside, jetskis racing each other, and motorboats with no doubt intoxicated drivers, exhibiting their own brand of territorial yodel, like Tarzan hopped up on testosterone.  Does yelling really enhance their experience?

We live in such a noisy world that one doesn’t really realize just how much ambient noise is out there until they stop to listen.  The loons seem so civilized, while we are the “wild life.”

“Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”

Sunrise...

Sunrise…

...Sunset.

…Sunset.

23 thoughts on “At Home with the Loons

  1. Holy cow! You’ve done it again . . . your words and photos make my shoulders droop in relaxation just to encounter the pleasures that you are enjoying.

    One of the things that endears my own home to me is that it is quiet here, apart from the noises from the birds and other wildlife that habituate our venue. Today it is mockingbirds feasting on the pyracantha berries that make them slightly drunk and charming!

    After thirty six years in Florida, I must say that The West is where it is at (terrible grammar) for me. The thought of returning to bugs, overpopulation, and humidity is truly frightening.

    “Home”, even a temporary one, is where you feel at ease and pleased.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

  2. Listening to the loons in the morning was one of my favorite things about our time in Maine. As I read your blog along the way, I would wonder how you kept going and not get tired of going. We spent most of the past 6 months moving fairly often and it felt good to stop for a while now. I think you found a treasure in Bridgton.

  3. At 72, finally, I have found “home”. It does take time. Several times over the past decades I thought I was home, only to find that the time came when I was ready to go. I could have been a wanderer like you, in another life, easily. But I know the pull of both ways of being, I totally get it. Your words as always, brought delight and recognition to me. If I had to decide where to live now, it would be an awful decision, just too many choices. Grants Pass was a choice for several reasons, but I didn’t have to actually decide on my own, I had some help. The ocean is near, the snow isn’t overwhelming, the trees are gorgeous, my family is accessible. So many things make a place home. So happy that you found a respite there in gorgeous Maine, in spite of the noise. I hate that stuff, noise! But there are so few places left in the world that are not completely inundated with it. Again, Suzanne, thank you for all you do to write and photograph your experience and to share it.

  4. Heard my first loon call while at Acadia Ntl Park last summer. It was like a solo oboe song, so wonderful! very instrumental-like, hard to believe it was a bird making that sound. As for un-welcomed noises (generators mostly), I just take my hearing aids off :) And I do take them off quite frequently and often wonder how perfect-hearing-folks can stand it all.

  5. Magical. The perfect place to take stock of yourself. I haven’t heard a loon for years now but I remember their call. The last two photos are stunning and sum it all up.

  6. I am not a full timer but have had quite a lot of travels in our RV. This past summer we went from central New Mexico to Central Oregon………it was pure culture shock for sure but over the Summer I came to like it better and better. We did not stay in the same place all Summer and my husband and I both felt the RV felt very different in each place it was parked. I am back in New Mexico for 4 weeks and will soon fly up to the Seattle area for the next 4 months in the RV where my husband currently is (not looking forward to crowds but love the area, lived there 12 years). Then we will relocate to Oregon near Portland………….I feel like a gypsy and understand the call of a place called home where you can set down roots. It does look like you found a wonderful place to rest for a bit till you pull hook up and go somewhere else…..my guess is gonna be the Southwest?

  7. You found an idyllic spot to call home for awhile, and am so glad you get to rest a bit. The road is wonderful, but once and awhile binge watching on a couch is a wonderful thing. Your pictures and prose once again make me want to go back there, it’s such a gorgeous area. You are welcome here anytime!
    Miss you girl!!
    Xoxoxo

  8. I heard my first loon this summer! Could sit and listen for hours. We’re spending the summer in the White Mountains volunteering for the Forest Service and have come to enjoy the beautiful scenery and slower pace.

    I look forward to reading your blog. If you make it the Kanc let me know. Would love to meet you.

  9. It certainly looks a good place to rest up for a while, collect your thoughts and maybe plan the next adventure where ever that may be. I’m sure your audience will tag along and also enjoy the experience. All the best.

  10. Marvelous post. Fantastic photos. Honest writing. Sue Malone is right, we are glad you found some respite in Maine. I grew up knowing where home is, always. You have spread little pieces of home across the country; and we like to believe one of them is in Boise. Come back anytime!

  11. Well, well, well. I can certainly understand the need to stop, reflect and enjoy the same scenery for a while. Especially that spectacular place. How wonderful that you are able to do so. AND, just think, you might not have a place to call “home” but you have the choice to go to live, for a long while, wherever you want!
    Bridgeton Maine looks absolutely divine.
    DO hope to see you back in Mexico some time, when you have time to stay for a while……..

  12. This looks like a near perfect place to decompress.

    I always call the RV “home”. That gives it a feel of cozy comfort (which it really is), no matter how long we stay in it, no matter where we are. But, I also know that I am longing for a Place to call home…and with any luck that place will make itself known in 2018. It most likely will be very close to nature, peace and quiet and wildness.

    If you make it out west this winter I hope our paths cross!

  13. As always…lovely thoughts and photos. Sunrises and sunsets, beginnings and endings and beginnings anew…

    …”Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,
    I’ll play the game and pretend.
    But all my words come back to me
    in shades of mediocrity
    Like emptiness in harmony
    I need someone to comfort me.

    Homeward bound,
    I wish I was homeward bound,
    Home where my thought’s escaping,
    Home where my music’s playing,
    Home where my love lies waiting silently for me.
    Silently for me…” ~ Paul Simon

  14. A lake side cabin in Maine, it don’t get no better than that for rest and recuperation. Enjoy, relax and spend some time with some fine people. As one who grew up in the Adirondacks of NY state I have come to appreciate the northern parts of the new england states as places of kindred spirituality. Glad you are resting for a while.

  15. So,where is “home”? A question searching for an answer. I sort of have this question rattling around in my head. The reason I’m a part-time RVer, is that having a home (not just the dwelling) is important to me. A place that grounds me, with connections, family, friends, safe surroundings, and nearby services. I’ve started a multi-year process of looking for a new home because my current home is too big and too much of a chore. It’s an interesting endeavor. Being retired and still relatively young, my next home could be anywhere. One of the secondary things I’ve been doing in my RV travels, is to consider possible places. “Could this be home?” is a question I often ask when I visit an interesting place. If the answer comes up “maybe”, then I usually spend some extra time and delve deeper. Sometimes I plan a return trip. It’s another way I’ve been using my RV time.

  16. Hi Suzanne. What a lovely post about a place I have called “home” for the past 45 years! Have you read the book “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn”? It was written by my brother-in-law, Thomas Hubka, my husband Terry’s identical twin brother. I’m sorry I was not able to meet you. Perhaps John & Mary told you that I was preparing for a pre-birthday trip to Italy and have just returned after spending two weeks there. Talk about noise…Rome is unbelievable. But my friend and I stayed in a quiet oasis on the Trastevere side of the Tiber so we had relief from the bustling city. Safe travels wherever your spirit leads you. Mary

  17. Another beautiful, thought-provoking post Suzanne. Your thoughts resonate with me, as I too wonder at what will feel like home to me, and when. Although our little So. Cal haven works well for us now, and it did feel good to come back to our RV after a busy summer (and sleep in my own bed), I know it isn’t home and most likely won’t ever be. Terry knows it too but he is not wanting to make any abrupt changes right now, which is fine with me. Sitting under our little gazebo, enjoying a drink and a good book, feels pretty good right now, but when I pull myself away from my book, there is a feeling of being unsettled. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, trying to put a name to it. Enjoy your respite with friends Suzanne. It looks like a lovely place to reflect upon your next chapter.

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