Tag Archives: Maine Environmental Leader

Corals of the forest shrouded by morning mountain mists

Slowly the feathery cool vapors of the morning mist lift and
swirl around me as my kayak glides across the top of the mirror-like water. I
am conscious of how much noise each dip of my paddle seems to make as I slide
over the surface, the cool mountain air and scents of the pond surrounding
me.  The birds are quiet because on this morning autumn has begun to awaken and let us know it is soon to spring full force upon the denizens of Spencer Pond with all of  its frosty crispness. The smoke from the woodstove curls up and drops down in gentle puffs around the cabin as I move farther from shore. I pay close attention and quickly spot a mother goose with her almost grown goslings huddled deep in the marsh. She is alert and watching my every move as I maneuver to take pictures of her along with the arrowhead
and pickerel weed flowers blooming next to the marshy shore. Beyond me the
splash of a beaver tail is heard as I move further down the shore, and I hear a
“slurmppp” and look across the bog to see the outline of a moose retreating
into the woods, mist swirling between us. The beaver continues behind me
slapping the water as I move forward, I keep turning around, is it my
imagination or is the rascal following me, with the sole purpose of letting
everyone of his woodland and water friends know that there is an intruder
about. Slowly I glide into a small inlet and watch as another beaver swims
directly toward me, closer and closer. I know she is fully aware of my presence
yet she seems somewhat curious as I am stopped. Within about 50 feet she softly
slips below the surface, without even the slightest sound, I look around me and
wait for her return, where will she surface? Within a few moments she pops up
about 50 feet behind me, swimming under the water as she passed. I wonder if
she thinks all humans are so foolish that we wouldn’t have even noticed her
presence? And in truth she was so stealthy and silent, that if I had not been
watching her directly, I never would have been aware of her presence, my senses
of sight and hearing dulled over ages of evolutionary adaptation.

My ears are tickled with the early morning chips of swamp
sparrows, yellowthroats, and a lonely marsh wren as I slide past, and then as I
move closer to the brushy undergrowth I hear the Least Flycatcher, and far away
I tease out the sound of a Willow Flycatcher, carrying through the mists and
over the water directly to my ears. The steam is rising now and has mostly
cleared from the pond, but is still swirling out in little gasps from the marsh
laden shore. An old tree is revealed and I watch as a group of Kingbirds
jostles near the top. Overhead a gull flies over. My eyes squint as I strain to
see through the mist on the opposite shore – Great Blue Heron? Or old rotten
stick? I sit silently…aha movement, heron. I slowly lift my camera, but even
though I am silent and allowing my kayak to gently drift towards him, I have
exceeded the comfort threshold and he lifts his body gracefully on huge slate
gray wings lined with black. I watch and he moves a few hundred feet further
away and then drops down to resume his fishing alongside the shore. I move in
between the islands now, hugging the shore, hoping to steal up on some ducks, I
am rewarded with success. I watch as my friendly ring necked duck dabbles
across the water picking up little tidbits to eat, and then I spook a wood duck
and he rises off his little squeaks piercing the misty mountain air.

I am moving slow and am afraid have not made much progress
in the approximately 90 minutes that I have been on the water. I love to look
deeply into the shore and investigate to see anything new I might discover,
this morning I am rewarded with the purple hues of the fall asters dotting in
amongst the Labrador tea and rhodora of the shore. I see wispy cotton puffs of
grasses and Swamp Candles flecking the shore.

Occasionally I pass a water lily, and as I look towards the
mountains gigantic pink tinged puffy clouds laced with a purple wisp swirl
around Lily Bay and Baker mountains. Squaw looms in the distance rising up
dramatically from the south end of the pond, as I steer back towards camp, soon
my work day will begin. I am greeted with a treasure trove of ripe blueberries
along the shore, and happy sunflowers pointing towards me from the garden as I step out of the kayak and move towards the cozy warmth of the still quiet cabin and camp yard.

Last night I had a chance to wander into the woods, these
rains have brought brilliant displays of fungi to the forest floor.  Far from the deep blue sea,  I have discovered the corals of the north
woods, they bear a striking resemblance both structurally and in hue to the
corals found upon the ocean floor. I have also seen several waxy caps, puff
balls, and brilliant red mushrooms that I have yet to sit down in my field
guide and identify. I find myself laying on the moist floor, arching my neck
and checking the light trying to get the perfect shot, but at the same time
making a total mess of myself. Just off one trail lies Rattlesnake Plaintain an
extremely interesting woodland flower that I must confess I have never noticed
before, but now the height of summer is passed and most of my wildflowers are
gone. I reflect at the rich bounty each season brings, early spring, the
warbler migration in a leafless forest so they are easy to see, leaves then
unfolding and spring wildflowers sally forth, along with fiddleheads and other
tender greens, these give way to succulent berries and an assortment of
wildflowers that range throughout the summer, and now with fall comes the last
sprigs of woodland flowers, and fungi, and later as the leaves turn into a
rainbow of colors will come nuts and cones for the little woodland creatures to
discover. Such richness abounds, such beauty, and all in perfectly orchestrated
timing so that each resource can be used to its fullest potential by the
creature that needs it to make themselves prepared for the long winter days
ahead. Even me, full of introspective human candor, I sink my hands deeply towards these small treasures and store them into the pockets of my mind for the winter days when I am away from the natural joys of Spencer Pond.


Spencer Pond Camps – Certified by the State of Maine as an Environmental Leader

One of our goals since deciding to take the plunge and run the camps was to continue the Environmental Leader certification that Bob and Jill started. Spencer Pond Camps is fortunate enough to take part of this program and last week completed  the State Certification process successfully! What does this mean for guests? At the most intrinsic level it means that you can continue to feel good about your stay at the camps knowing that we are trying to minimize our impact on the environment and are consciously taking steps to analyze the impact our actions have. We entered this process thinking we were very responsible environmental citizens; but it certainly has heightened our awareness of several things we can do to continue to improve our business practices. 

Some of the things we are doing are business practices long established at the camps and items that simply make sense for our location- composting, limiting the size of boats launched on the pond, reinforcing the no ATV and Bear Baiting policies in effect on the township. Some of the things Dana and I have chosen to do are new, such as measuring our carbon footprint, moving to a paperless environment as much as possible, choosing a “Green” company for our web hosting (our website is powered by 100% wind power), providing dish soap for guests (so we can ensure its phosphate free), and supplying canoes free of charge to encourage guests to traverse the pond via non-motorized means. There are other things the certification has made us think about  – such as encouraging barbless hooks and hunters to pick up all shells. The certification also brought to light for us some groups that are collaborating to provide environmental eco-labels and certification to other  businesses across Maine, we are now confident we will be at the table when those discussions happen and be able to share our experiences and lessons learned.

We encourage you to read our environmental policies and provide any suggestions as we begin our 2010 season: