Monday, November 09, 2020

What a year! Bigfoot in Maine update etc

 Hi everyone--

This update note is long overdue, as are so many other things in this completely bonkers year.  The good news is, although I'm still fighting to keep my shop (The Green Hand Bookshop) afloat in the midst of all this, my upcoming book, Bigfoot in Maine, has meanwhile been quietly moving ahead.  It is making its way through the maze of editors and formatting designers at the publisher, and if all goes well we'll be looking at a release date in the first half of 2021.

All the illustrations are done, photos are tweaked, chapters written, and everything indexed.  Phew!!!  There was a lot of back and forth about how long it could be, and in the end I had to cut almost half of what I had written, but I fought to keep in the bulk of the most important part, in my view -- the oral history of eyewitness accounts. 

Some of the parts I had to pull out will show up here or in print as articles, so that they still see the light of day.

I am still talking with folks about their encounters, and with those out in the field investigating current activity, even though Covid has restricted my own travels for the foreseeable future (again, trying to keep the shop going has been intense, and we're not out of the woods yet).

Just for fun, I also recorded a short adaptation of the Maine story "Hobgoblins of the Wild North Woods" by Winthrop Packard, published in the Boston Evening Transcript, back on Dec 31, 1902. While it is ostensibly fictitious, it contains many elements of Bigfoot sightings reported even today.

You can listen to it here for free -- enjoy!

https://soundcloud.com/mys-648503636/a-hair-raising-bigfoot-yarn

I hope you have all stayed safe and well in these trying times, and I wish everyone better days ahead.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook!

Hi folks, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Many of you like myself can appreciate the part that food plays in the cultural history of Maine.

There are 5 days left to participate in the Kickstarter to help Rabelais Books put together their inspiring project --
The
Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook! 

[Apologies for the lateness of this alert, 2019 was not kind and I missed a lot of fun things that were brewing.]
If you aren't able to contribute, but have a Maine family food memory, recipe, or image you'd like to send to them as part of the project, do not hesitate! Deadline for submissions is JAN 10!

Submit here: https://www.maine200cookbook.com/home/#submit

Kickstarter here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maine200cookbook/maine-bicentennial-community-cookbook

Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books has long been a tireless archivist of historical cookery, and I can only imagine as he turns his enthusiasm and focus to the topic of Maine's own recipes that some marvelous and fun treasures are going to be turned up in the hunt. 

Let's do what we can to help him out!  If you have a delicious or notorious family classic that has long been a part of your family gatherings and history, why not send it in and add it to the mix?  It's one small (but tasty) way you can participate in Maine's bicentennial!

If you're curious about Rabelais Books, I encourage you to visit their website, as it (and their catalogs) are a trove of information and imagery on the topic of food books of all sorts:  https://www.rabelaisbooks.com/

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Bigfoot in Maine update, summer musings!

Hi everyone! The warm weather is finally here (mostly), and even the sporadic rainy days are good days to get out into a part of Maine you haven't seen yet.

I'm plugging away on the book, and excited to report that I'm working on the last major chapter (Durham Gorilla!), then all I have to do is add a few bits and pieces in to catch up with some last minute interviews and site visits elsewhere... and then the illustrations!

It's pretty exciting to finally be closing in on what is at this point a decade-long project. It's also exciting that it has been well worth it. I've met a lot of amazing people, and gotten to poke around in corners of Maine I might never have seen otherwise.

It has also become obvious that finally packing the manuscript off to the publisher when I've finished and done a final edit is NOT going to be the end of the work. This project has started what looks to be a lifetime's worth of recording Maine's Bigfoot-related oral history and scattered accounts. I have a feeling that I'll continue exploring this Strange Maine topic for many years to come, even after the book is done.
Skowhegan region driveabout on a rainy day!
Most recently I've been up in the Skowhegan region, where a series of late-1970s sightings occurred. It was a rainy day, but we covered a lot of ground, albeit in a truck because it was pouring rain and there were many meandering miles to traverse, many of them on dirt roads. Many thanks to those of you out there (you know who you are) that helped make this happen.

One of the most important things I've learned throughout this whole process is to be patient, and to be careful. If what I'm hearing from people is as real as it seems to be, we have neighbors that need our respect and possibly someday our protection. It's an intriguing thought to chew on.

I've also learned how important it is to be able to talk openly about the unexplained, because many people encounter it in their lives, always unexpectedly, and if we can't listen to others respectfully about their experiences, we can be sure that if we ever find ourselves in the same situation, ridicule will await us as well.

So please stop and think before you disparage or slap someone down just because they're trying to sincerely share something with you that they can't explain, but need to talk about. Small steps towards making this a better world for all of us. It doesn't take much, guys!

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Poetry of Empty Tombs

Longfellow crypt - Photo by Michelle Y. Souliere, (c)2016
Hi folks! Hope your spring is going well. Here's a little treat from Troy Bennett over at the Bangor Daily News, a piece about one of Portland's long-running mysteries to entertain you while we continue to thaw out.

If you click on the link below, it will take you to the site where you can watch Bennett's 20 minute documentary about his search for the truth about the Longfellow family's tomb.

Longfellow’s tomb is totally empty. We went looking for the bodies.
By Troy R. Bennett, BDN Staff • October 31, 2018 5:56 am
October 31, 2018

[...]

In 1986, the city of Portland went to brick up the Longfellow family tomb in its historic Western Cemetery to protect it from vandals. But when they did so, they discovered the tomb completely empty — no sign of the six family members, including Henry’s parents, who were interred there in the late 19th century.

As a local historian looked into the case more at the time, the mystery deepened.

In his new investigation into the curious case, Bennett retraced the steps of historian Bill Jordan and discovered some new leads.

[...]
[Source:
https://bangordailynews.com/2018/10/31/news/portland/the-curious-case-of-the-poets-empty-tomb/]

If you'd like to see more of Troy Bennett's features on the Bangor Daily News website, you can find them here:
https://bangordailynews.com/author/tbennett/
You can also follow him on Vimeo:
https://vimeo.com/user11806700/videos

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Maine Wildlife in the Snow - Part 2

I'd better post this before all the snow is gone here in southern Maine (oh, I know there will be some more, but tomorrow is the first day of spring, and I'm perennially optimistic). Back in February I had a chance to go out tromping with a friend, and it being the day after a snowstorm, we found a smorgasbord of animal tracks.
Even in winter some streams keep flowing.
In the post before this one, we looked at coyote and skunk prints. You can read about it here: Maine Wildlife in the Snow - Part 1

This time we'll look at some other tracks and traces left in the snow from that same trip.

The first set wound up being a bit of a joke on us. At first we came across what at a distance looked like the flurry a grouse might leave in the snow.
But on closer inspection, it was pretty clear that it was the sign of a very busy rabbit or hare (not sure whether it was cottontail or snowshoe, but more likely cottontail). Note the telltale droppings, like little punctuation marks!
Next we saw plenty of little mice tracks, with tail marks evident, this one heading toward the safety of a tree:
Last but not least, we found evidence of porcupine nibbling on some of the soft young pines in the area:
Pretty soon all that will be left are pockets of snow in the shadowy areas, and some ice here and there. Come May the leaves will be budding, and eventually leafing out. Not long now! Happy spring, everyone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Maine Wildlife in the Snow

It might not be "strange," but it is rather magical to be able to see the tracks of animals in the Maine winter snow. Back in February I had a chance to go out tromping with a friend, and it being the day after a snowstorm made for a bumper crop of tracks.

A network of tiny critters making their way from seed to seed.

Here are just a few:
Above is a coyote track (there were a lot of these), in which you can see the telltale two-claw dots at the front of the foot (look at the red arrow directing you to the 6:00 point of the photo).

To the right, you can see the full trackway, where the coyote carefully pads along the raised, packed runner left by snowmobilers in the fresh snow, very daintily stepping within the same spots as it moves along. You can see our bootprints along the edge of the coyote's runway to get an idea of scale.

The last track set for this post (I'll come back with more later) was a real puzzler at first. You can see them below. The lateral footpads set behind long toeprints, with prominent claws showing on many of the tracks, indicated a number of species possibilities, but the size, only a few inches long, could only match one thing, if I am not mistaken -- a skunk! So I'm glad we only saw his tracks and not himself.
1. Trackway          2.  Lateral footpad visible          3.  Clawmarks visible

Friday, February 22, 2019

Ermines everywhere!

It sounds like this winter has had a bumper crop of little ermines (short tailed and long tailed weasels in their lovely white winter coats) running amuck in Maine's woods and neighborhoods. Our first post about this phenomenon was back in 2006, and there has been a running commentary on the subject ever since. You can read that earlier post here: Mystery White Critter

We have heard reports from a bunch of places over the years: Poland, Troy, Brewer, Crawford, Casco, Harmony, York, and Naples for starters.

Today I have a treat for you -- one of the folks, Dave Taylor, who had an ermine as an unexpected houseguest earlier this year, had this to say: "We just recently caught a pure white weasel in our home with a live trap. Released him back into the woods on about 50 acres. Have several good photos and videos. Cute little guy." He was kind enough to send along some photos. I never realized exactly how petite they are!

Here is a glimpse of the little fellow in Dave's kitchen, so you can get an idea of his size:
And here he is, safely stowed in his trap, ready to be released back into the wild, just as devilishly cute as ever!
If you want to learn a little more about ermines, here are a couple of good resources -- an article on the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust site: https://hhltmaine.org/nature-notes/nature-notes-weasels/
and another on the Natural Resources Council of Maine site: https://www.nrcm.org/nrcm-creature-feature/ermine/