Category: Barnaby’s Blog

These musings are contributed by Coastal Rivers Trustee Barnaby Porter. Many were written years ago. We are grateful to have them!

This autumn season has found me at an unusual vantage point to ponder the changes afoot from afar, to find myself thinking of home and how it must be from a point on the globe so remote and untrafficked that I can’t describe precisely where I am – somewhere just north of the equator, 500 miles southwest of Acapulco, Mexico, and probably a thousand miles or more west of Costa Rica and Panama, far out in the Pacific Ocean. (…)

Chief ALVIN pilot, Bob Grieve, was busy reading instruments and flipping switches as he ran through his final pre-dive checklist: “Hatch is shut, O2 on, scrubbers scrubbing, tracking on 8.1, PC check . . . I’ll do it on the way down, request a launch altitude and permission to dive as soon as you’re clear.” And as my mind tumbled in and out of focus in the novelty and excitement of my situation, the almost lyrical response of Bobby Lee Williams back aboard the R/V Atlantis II came over our speaker saying (…)

During my recent sojourn in the equatorial Pacific, I was very aware of the Sun’s elevation and the length of day. Wherever I am, I have always had a habit of relating the environment around me to home. When I left Maine, the fall foliage was within days of reaching its peak color, kindled as it was by the early evenings and brisk October nights.

Nine degrees north of the equator, the only color was the startlingly vibrant blue of the open sea, and nearly every other shade (…)

One late summer day, I walked down a dusty road on a backwater of Merrymeeting Bay. The tall grass on both sides waved in the breeze with the singing of crickets whose cadence filled the quiet, and goldenrod and fall asters labeled the season for what it was: warm, lazy and fleeting.

Merrymeeting Bay was a new place in my experience, a vast marshland teeming with life. I was taking part in a waterfowl survey. It was mid-afternoon, and there was a sense of (…)

’m not sure what most characterizes early fall for me – the sudden abundance of tomatoes in our garden and the cadent singing of crickets or the sweet smell of tired vegetation as it lies down to die and go back to the earth. Perhaps it’s none of those things so much as the heavy, lazy feeling I have after the frenzy of summer and the strong desire to just take a good pause before the next season is upon us. (…)

When we were kids, there was a dilapidated structure, a small bath house, down on our shore on Old Broad Bay that got altogether more attention than its builder had probably ever anticipated. It had a times-gone-by aura about it, a feeling we all sensed that it had seen better days and good ones too.

One look would have told anyone that (…)

Summer vacation and summer heat are a lethargizing combination that affects us all. It breeds a large company of lemonade sippers, swinging on porch swings, just watching the building thunderheads. Such moments, while common, were, in truth, merely creative pauses for the unleashed cannon-ballers among us back in the day.

My more youthful summers on Old Broad Bay were such a grand stretch of hell-raising days that (…)

There’s a song that sings, “June is busting out all over,” and it’s true. In May, when things first green up, the land all around has the appearance of tidiness under the gentle spell of new growth. There is still an openness to the woods that allows birds’ songs to carry far, and weeding the just-planted garden is only a simple chore. The lilac outside the kitchen window hesitates to unfold its curling leaves; its greatest effort spent in building lavender buds. (…)

Quite a long time ago, I had a job at the Darling Marine Center just two miles downriver from my house – not very far. In fact, from the shore where I kept a little dory passed down to me from my grandfather, I could just about see the end of the dock at work. The thing about that dock was that it was on the opposite shore, in another town, and to get there from here, without a boat, meant a 14-mile drive up to the bridge in town and (…)

Town meeting is a springtime event around here. It is on this occasion that the townsfolk at last break out of the rut they’ve got themselves into, hanging around the kitchen stove and looking out the window, wishing the weather would finally straighten out. When the appointed day arrives, cars and pickup trucks congregate at the Town Hall, and their drivers, grumbling about the lack of parking space, file into the hall prepared to do battle until they drop, or the sun sets, whichever happens first. It’s a time-proven system for (…)