Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hawks, Ducks, and Cars

I have just spent an unfortunately short amount of time at home(1), and I am on my way home(2) on the bus. Below, I have made a small yet comprehensive Venn diagram comparing and contrasting Maine and MIT.

In summary, Maine is pretty great. I will draw your attention to the middle cell, where you will find that the only things that Maine and MIT have in common are hawks, ducks, and cars. Thusly, in order to truly experience all those things that life has available, one must spend time in both places, so as to broaden one’s horizons.

You might notice a trend in the items that are found on the Maine side. This highlights those things that I find especially lacking in Cambridge. More specifically, I find the stark contrast between Cambridge’s environment full of people and buildings and Maine’s trees, plants, and other living and inviting things very salient in such a discussion.

While home, I went kayaking with my father and brother in Messalonskee Stream. It is like the Charles, except different on all important dimensions. It is a small stream that flows from a lake into the Kennebec, the largest river in Maine. It is very slow flowing, with a rather minimal current. Tall pine, fir, and birch trees stand guard around it, protecting it from the terrible influences of the human world slowly encroaching on the wilderness flowing through it.

The banks are decorated with a flourish: water plants of all kinds line the banks, but eventually give way to a layer of water lilies which act as the dividing line between the woods and the clear water. It is between these lines of lily pads that we maneuvered our kayaks, slowly and methodically.

For me, kayaking is not a sport. It is not for exercise, it is not for the fun of riding in a boat—it’s not at all about the experience of kayaking itself. It just happens that kayaks are a wonderful vehicle with which to see the wilderness. They allow for minimal impact, but for access to the most intimate part of the forest around me. This was my second time kayaking in the stream, but I had already met some of the animals there, and this time, I was visiting them to say hello, and see how my new friends were doing.

Not very many animals live directly at the boat landing. This is where the people are, and really, who wants that.

After paddling for a bit, we approached the Prince of the stream. He seems to own the entire length of it, and I assume he rules it well.

I didn’t see him at first, because he was too far ahead of us, but my father pointed him out to me. The Great Blue Heron was standing tall, resting maybe, his long neck bent slightly. When he spotted us, he was spooked, and took off, with amazing grace. With his giant gray wings (which easily span two meters), he easily took to the air, and flew over us, down the stream a bit and into the woods.

After paddling a bit longer and admiring the woods around us, including the lodge of the beaver that I saw last time we came to the stream, I spotted a family of ducks—a mother and about six young ducklings. I stopped and watched them waddle around a bit. After they decided that I was not, in fact, going to eat them, the mother waddled up close to the shore, and stepped in the water. The ducklings followed, and they started off down the stream in the opposite direction, which I believe was their original intent anyway.

Throughout the next stretch of the stream, we saw multiple hawks circling up above us, far up above the trees, and above any altitude that I would have been particularly comfortable with if I were a bird. One of the hawks came down from his tree and snatched a fish out of the stream and flew over us back up to his perch.

My favorite friends were the Belted Kingfisher. I love them. They’re relatively easily spooked, but they’re very pretty, and I am very happy whenever I get to see them. I saw two of them fighting over territory, and back toward the landing (on our way back out of their home) we saw another, the same we had seen last time we were in the stream, I believe, as he was perched on the same tree.

Other than birds and green things, Maine also has my family. I spent the 3rd of July with a large assembly of my family. Food was had, fun was had, and I did some more kayaking. It was really nice to be back home, and I will endeavor to do this more frequently.

Also, to all of you who are not in Boston because you’re home or in France or Germany or Singapore or somewhere else: I miss you. Return soon. [eom]

I will leave it to someone else to describe the awesomeness of Boston’s Independence Day celebrations, because I have to go to work now, and I feel like posting this.

I love you all, and hope that you are having a wonderful summer. <3


PS: This post was *started* on the bus, but finished later ....



(1) Maine

(2) MIT


  1. Thank goodness for framily and bubble tea, huh!
    I guess lab is okay too... :D

  2. Can LMF do a wilderness field trip when we get back? You're a social chair...