Friday, July 13, 2012

Downeast Maine Coast

The Downeast coast; this spot a five minute walk from our property
When I tell people I live in Maine, they often say, "Oh, I've never been there, but I've heard that is is like Minnesota (or Oregon)." Well, yes, there are similarities (But sorry, Minnesota, a big lake is not at all like the ocean), but no one who has actually been to Maine will say that it reminds them of anywhere else in the U.S. Maine's dramatic coast is the result of glaciers slicing through the massive pink granite, creating a 3,500 mile coastline, ten times that of Oregon, and 4,600 islands, more than any other state. The inlets and bays are so numerous that it is easy to become disoriented, unable to tell north from south. "Downeast," a term given to the three easternmost coastal counties, is derived from early 20th century New Yorker and Bostonian summer residents sailing downwind heading east along the shore toward Canada. But it is Downeast Maine's unique character that has captured the imagination and hearts of people from all over the world, including this displaced Midwesterner. The culture and fishing village atmosphere make it special. Recently, I returned to Washington County and our seven acre wooded slice of heaven on the Downeast Coast, and recorded the images in this post. I hope you enjoy the tour.

West Quoddy Head Light, easternmost point in the U.S. near Lubec.
(East Quoddy is nearby in Canada)

Siberian iris and tide pool

Little red house on Narraguagus Bay, Washington County

A geologist's delight: basalt extrusion. Narraguagus Bay, Milbridge
About 400 meters down the road from our place is Petit Manan National Wildlife Preserve.
We share space with bear, moose, raccoons, coyotes, hosts of birds and during June, a great many fawns that are curiously exploring their environment.

Washington County is the blueberry capital of the world. Columbia, U.S. 1

Clamming must be one of the most difficult jobs there are.
Scene at low tide, U.S. 1, Hancock County

Lupine bloom throughout the month of June all over Maine.

Faded dream. Near Machias, U.S. 1

Not Downeast, but in Portland, Maine's largest city: 
"Ghost Busters" from an anime convention. I had to add it!

The ubiquitous lobster boat, perhaps the most enduring Maine symbol

One can set up a seafood shop just about anywhere. U.S. 1, Milbridge.


Pine pollen ready to disperse

View from the Schoodic peninsula near Winterport
Bluebird houses near Milbridge, U.S. Highway 1

Tide pool, McClellan Town Park, Milbridge

Each lobster fisher (wo)man has his/her own buoy design.
People often display collections that have washed ashore.

Weathered granite, McClellan Town Park, Milbridge

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Doors of Ile St-Louis

Sometimes I notice--and then focus on--the details of a locale, often at the expense of staying on the bigger picture. Since I can't have both simultaneously, I decided that it's fine to just follow my eye and record what interests me. Recently, during a two day stopover in Paris, I wandered around the world's most beautiful city. In an attempt to distance myself from the throngs of tourists at Notre Dame, I crossed onto Ile St-Louis and realized that I hadn't left them behind after all. Nonetheless, I walked along the narrow streets where many of the buildings have massive wooden doors fixed with an interesting array of attractive handles and ring knockers. 

The ring on the door of the residence of Marie Curie

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paris Walkabout

During a recent stopover in my favorite city, the two days were spent walking around various parts of Paris to see not only its iconic monuments and parks, but to observe the more subtle aspects of the City of Light. I generally try to avoid the throngs of tourists (although I admit that I am part of the problem), but even if in a crowd, I am often not looking at the same things they are. I do marvel at the city's unique and inspiring architectural wonders, but just as much I admire the way Paris holds itself together, seamless in its continuity from one end to the other, landmarks elegantly punctuating the skyline. As always, the Parisiens were very helpful, often going out of their way to help me reach a particular destination. There were instances, however, when my camera got too intimate with people who did not wish to share their lives so openly, and I learned valuable lessons: They are not shy about "explaining" the way life works in their world. 

Based in a hotel in Paris's "10e (10th) Arrondissement" near the Gare du Nord, I had quick access to the airport and rail and metro lines that I used via a 2 day pass. As I found out during several trips through the metro at Boulevards Magenta and Barbes, the area has its seamy side, particularly at night. But one adjusts and uses care.

This post will not necessarily have images that everyone has seen multiple times, but perhaps from a different perspective, or of details that others bypass in their rush from one monument to the next. The photos are chronologically arranged as I wandered the city for 48 hours. I hope you enjoy the tour. 

Vermaison Antique allees near Porte de Clignancourt in north Paris offer the discriminating collector unlimited selections, but few bargains.

The ubiquitous Paris newsstand: A classic

Fontaine St Michel

The center of Paris revolves around Notre Dame and the Ile de la Cite

Notre Dame's famous flying buttresses

Detail of a door on Ile St-Louis. See more of these beautiful handles on the next blog post

Notre Dame and Ile St-Louis

A typical street in the Left Bank (Latin Quarter) near the Sorbonne

Tuileries Gardens: a wonderful place to rest, enjoy the serene atmosphere and share a lunch of cheese and a baguette...with the pigeons 

Scene near Gare de l'Est

Outside of Metro station Barbes Rochechouart, Romanian immigrants set up an unofficial impromptu street market. I quickly learned that tourists with cameras were not looked upon with favor. I had to steal hip shots as I passed. I was lucky with this one.

Also outside Metro station Barbes Rochechouart, this vendor scolds me for taking what I thought was an innocent photo of a news stand. "You want photos? Go to Montmartre!" I took it anyway. It's a public place, I thought. Within seconds of taking the photo, several men came up to me and "suggested" that I leave. I took their advice. Be warned!

OK, so I went to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. Indeed, no one scolded me there.

A beautiful scene on Montmartre, where a twilight walk evokes the romantic nature of Paris.

The Saint Quentin market near Gare de l'Est

One can meet interesting people on the Champs Elysees. Problem is, one can't always talk to them!

A special bicycle perch for what appeared to be a pet crow. Avenue d'Iena between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

Hundreds of special "charge stations" for electric cars are spread around the city and located by GPS.
This one is near the Eiffel Tower.

This of course, is Paris's most famous landmark.