Bays within bays, all adding into one

For someone raised like me far from the ocean, trying to pin down places along the coastline can be confounding.

Eastport, for instance, lies within famed Fundy Bay yet also has Cobscook Bay lapping its west banks and Passamaquoddy Bay on its east.

What gives?

Well, let’s say the bays are like Matreshka Dolls, one fitting inside another one that fits within yet another one and so on.

Cobscook Bay, for instance, includes the smaller East, South, Sipp, Dennys, and Whiting bays.

Looking into Cobscook Bay to the west of Eastport.
Or to the east, toward the Bay of Fundy.

I guess it’s like a New Yorker saying she’s from Flatbush, meaning a part of Brooklyn within New York City, which does – contrary to the knowledge of many Manhattanites – sprawl far beyond their little island.

So Eastport can justly claim to be the City in the Bay. Or several.


How you locate where the international border runs between two islands

What’s with these pyramids? They’re even found in folks’ yards.

Pyramids like this sit in prominent spots along the shore. They can seem mystifying enough, even before you see a second one nearby.

At last, I learned the two can be lined up to create an imaginary line running out across the water. The border between the United States and Canada falls where the line crosses a similar line running from islands on the other side. That spot can then be connected to others, at least by some kind of maritime surveyors. It’s another example of connect-the-dots.

The four-sided pyramids are called range markers. They’re a special kind of daymark or day beacon, too.


BAR cars stuck in the woods

Seeing railroad boxcars away from the tracks around here no longer surprises me. Many of them stand beside farmhouses and sheds or even businesses, where they serve as extra storage space, presumably cheap or for the taking.

But this sight along State Route 191 always grabs me.

Like they simply stopped in time.
It’s like the trees are trying to pull the cars back into the earth itself.

The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad served Washington County as well as the Penobscot Bay region and the spud country up north.

Why Yankee mariners wintered in the woods

You might think the ideal time to work in a forest would be spring or fall, but that’s not how it’s turned out in logging in the great northern forests of New England and New York state. Instead, the time to be out harvesting trees is deep winter. Yup, below zero around here.

I first learned of this when trying to order firewood after an uncommonly warm winter in New Hampshire. Because the ground hadn’t frozen hard enough long enough, the cutters hadn’t been able to access much of the woods with their heavy equipment. The result was a marketplace shortage.

For contrast, mud season can be notorious, so much so that come spring, logging roads are closed to prevent destruction. Much of Maine, in particular, is either standing water, once the ice melts, or boggy, including soft peat bogs. And in late spring and early summer, hoards of nasty black flies swarm about – the defenders of wilderness, as some contrarians contend.


Folklorists examining the songs of Maine have noticed that many of the songs from the old lumberjack camps originated at sea. You know, as shanties and the like. At first, these scholars were puzzled, but then they realized that winter was a treacherous time to be out on the water. Many sailors instead headed for the forests, to work in the camps for the season. Somehow, though, any songs originating in the woods failed to travel the other direction.

Historically, the logs were stacked along streams, awaiting the spring melting and surging high waters that the timber could ride to ride millponds. That, in turn, could be exciting, demanding, and deadly work where mariners would continue.

From there, the sailors went back out on the ocean.

Mechanization has changed much of that, on land and sea, but not the reality of mucky soil.

We’ll see what global warming does to the industry.