Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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10th Annual Downeast Spring Birding Festival

Let me begin by saying – Happy Mother’s Day!  In a sense, this post about the 10th Annual Downeast Spring Birding Festival is a tribute to my own mother – who always seemed to be able to identify the many bird species around our home – or, if she couldn’t identify one, would reach for one of her “bird books” and figure it out.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The Spring Birding Festival is held over Memorial Day weekend, May 24th – 27th, in the Cobscook Bay region of Maine, which has been identified by the American Bird Conservancy as “one of the important bird areas in the US.”  Why?  Well, the diverse habitats of the area provide a good home for a wide variety of bird species.  Of the 400 bird species that have been sighted in Maine, nearly three-quarters of them have been sighted in this area in Down East Maine.  But really, this is something you should go and experience for yourself.

Participants in this festival have the enviable opportunity to enjoy this picturesque part of Maine while birding during the spring migration and breeding season.  The festival offers guided hikes, self-guided explorations, boat tours, and presentations led by area experts.  Bird species that are likely to be seen include Atlantic puffins, bald eagles, nesting waterfowl, and, of course, many others.

Click here for registration forms, a full schedule of events, or more information.  Serious bird watchers may also enjoy checking out the Maine Birding Trail website.

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A little ‘Spring’ in your step

It may not feel much like spring in Maine right now – despite Wednesday, March 20th, being the first official day of spring – after all, the state just received another 10-18 inches of snow, depending on your location, and there’s a potential for more in a storm system next week.  But, spring is here, and with it comes a blog post on spring activities in Maine.

Given the recent snowfall, spring skiing should be at the top of the priority list.  As temperatures start to rise, but the snow in the mountains remains, there are rarely better skiing days.  After bundling up for the slopes all winter, there’s nothing more enjoyable than feeling the sun on your face, wearing a fleece, and whipping down the mountain.  For great spring skiing, check out Sugarloaf USA, Saddleback, Sunday River, and more.

One of my favorite things about Maine is that there are four true seasons – you get a real spring, short summer, real fall, and a long winter – and these transitions bring special activities year round. As spring progresses, activities like hiking, gardening, and attending spring and early summer festivals get you outside and enjoying the warm weather.  Stay tuned for a post this week on the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.  Hiking, biking, and experiencing the great outdoors doesn’t get much better than in Acadia National Park.  Their extensive carriage trails provide manageable options for children and inexperienced cyclists as well as more challenging terrain for those looking for adventure.

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The end of spring, in June, brings a number of festivals that I want to mention briefly.  In June-July, you can celebrate Maine’s maritime tradition with at the Annual Heritage Days in Bath, Maine.  Also in June, the La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival in Biddeford offers an opportunity to celebrate and explore Maine’s Franco-American heritage.

To close on a personal note:

With spring comes mud season in Maine.  I remember describing this to my husband – the melting of the snow and frost, in combination with spring rain, and the results – deep, squishy, dirty mud.  Lots of it.  The defining image of mud season in my mind comes from my childhood – we lived in a white farmhouse at the end of a dead end road – and every spring, the mud would seep up between the walkway stones, making it impossible to venture from the car to the house without your feet being enveloped in it.  And every spring, my parents would set out a series of low, wooden bridges, made of 2-3 planks each, lifted about 4 inches off the ground, so that we could more easily (and cleanly) manuever from the car to the house.  I will remember the clattering noise of feet, planks, and stones all my life, I’m sure – as well as the childhood joy of leaping from set to set, making it more of a game than a walk.

So – may you enjoy the best of springtime in Maine, with mud kept to a minimum!


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In Remembrance: Martha Harris

Martha Harris, a well-loved, lifelong resident of Gorham, Maine, passed away on Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer.  I knew her best for her photography, which was, by all accounts, her passion.  Mine was one of the thousands of high school senior pictures she took, and my memories of her reflect the warm, caring person she was.

When my mother told me of her passing, I felt it was important to take a moment here and recognize her life and how much she meant to, and did for, the people of Gorham.  Although it’s unlikely that many of you, my readers, knew her, you’ve probably known someone like her in the communities you grew up in or live in today.

The American Journal wrote a very touching piece about Martha, which you can read here.  Reading it reminded me of her impact on our community – Martha was an ever-present fixture at Gorham High sporting events, a founding member of the Gorham Times, a board member of the Gorham High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Gorham High Alumni Association, and a volunteer at Baxter Memorial Library.  She made a dedicated effort to honor the history of Gorham, to capture the special spirit of its people, and to document the goings-on of this small town.  Through that effort, she touched the lives of all who reside there.

While much of what I know of her I learned from others, I will never forget how her comforting, open manner put me at ease while she took my senior picture.  She was a very special woman who will be missed, and remembered.

The Portland Press Herald highlighted her life in their feature obituary.