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Claybrook Mountain Lodge
June, 2016

What is so rare as a day in June? Our dry spell has continued with few interruptions and it has provided us with some glorious weather. I am worried a bit about the garden but we can always water it. I like to have the wood split and stacked in the shed by now, but I am behind on that at this point. At least it is all cut and ready for Pat’s cousin Ivan to saw up. There is lush green to rival Ireland everywhere I look, and I am hopeful that the dry air will break the cycle of the fungus that has infested all of our White Pine trees for seven consecutive summers.

The beginning of the month was a time of great sadness in our little Resq community. We lost two of the “Best”. My friend and fellow EMT Deborah Clague lost a long hard fight against cancer. She was a fierce champion for human rights, and she could sing like an angel. I sometimes feel like a lone voice for liberal causes, being surrounded by more conservative folks at work, but Deborah wasn’t shy about her opinions and would always step into the fray to support me. All of us are going to miss the strength of her presence.

Dennis Kerrigan was the ultimate husband, father, friend, outdoorsman and the most accomplished Wilderness Medic I have known. His skill and knowledge created a team of talented Wilderness EMTs who handle whatever comes our way in the woods and waters of western Maine. His impact will be felt in generations to come, and I will always cherish the time I spent with him. An era has ended.

We were hoping for a moose on the salt block this spring, and in June one finally showed up. This one was a very large bull, tall and lanky with ribs showing from the fat dissolving rigors of winter. He showed up one morning standing over the salt block in the mid-morning sun. He went down on his knees in order to reach the block and after a few minutes laid down beside it and spent the morning that way. His antlers were already developing velvet covered palms and will be impressive when they are fully developed. For three days we saw him sometimes more than once a day. One morning when full daylight was still an hour away I saw a doe standing in the field staring in the direction of the salt block. With binoculars I could see “Bill” the moose lying next to the salt. He paid no attention to the deer even when she got agitated and stamped her foot. She kept running back and forth and stamping her feet for 15 minutes before giving up. I don’t think he even looked in her direction during that time. I doubt he would have paid her any attention if she had just stepped up and licked the block. After three days “Bill” evidently had his fill of salt and we haven’t seen him since.

Cousin Ivan got a lot of fire wood sawed in the first part of June and I began to split it. Ron Joseph and I got quite bit done but had trouble with the wood splitter and had to leave it at the repair place in Farmington. They had so much work ahead that I could see I wouldn’t get the splitting done in June unless I rented a splitter. I rented one for a couple of days and made a big dent in it. I got the splitter back in the third week of June and promptly broke it again. The rental I got was so old that it was ready to fall apart and in fact a wheel bearing failed when I was hauling it home. Fortunately, the wheel didn’t come off when I was on the road and I was able to finish splitting the wood pile. The shed is finally full.

John Jenkins, one of my deer hunting guests, arrived with his wife in June. We haven’t seen him since 2009 and it was the first time we have met his wife Jean. He is getting ready to retire and they were traveling around with a new camper that they will be spending a lot of time in soon. Back in 2009 John got a nice buck near Sandy Stream. On this trip, he wanted to try the fishing at Pierce Pond, so we spent an evening there, an evening on the Dead River and a morning on the Sandy River in Farmington. Pierce Pond and the Sandy were tough, but we had a lot of fish rising at dusk on the Dead. We walked down to the start of the dead water and waded and fish were rising in the low light. I got a couple of nice Brook Trout and John hooked what appeared to be a big salmon but it shook the hook on a jump. We enjoyed our time and the chance to meet Jean. Since they were our only guests, we were able to spend some time just visiting.

At the end of June, I got to spend a couple of more days with two more old friends fishing at Pierce Pond. Bob Westphal and Ragon Wilmuth were regulars at Cobb’s in the days when Pat and I were working full time there. Bob still comes hunting at Claybrook, but I haven’t spent time with the two of them together for several years. I took the boat up in the morning and fished the day, then they would fish the evening hatch after I went home. The guide didn’t show them much but they did find some action in the evening. It was great to have some time to catch up and see them both still able to enjoy the outdoors. We did have a few laughs at our own expense, watching each other getting in and out of the boat groaning and stumbling and complaining of stiff joints.

Our field has big does feeding every evening now, but we haven’t seen a fawn yet. At least two have had fawns and look thin but there is still one who looks very pregnant. A snowshoe hare has been hopping into the yard from woods across the road and every day gets closer and less wary of us. In all the years since we moved into this place we have not had a tame rabbit in the yard, so this is fun. The dry weather has not changed the fungus on White Pines for this year. At the end of June, they all got pale and yellow with the beginning of needle fall that should not occur until fall. Maybe the dry weather this year will mean no fungus next year but I am not very optimistic. Pat and I planted a smaller garden this year but we have potatoes, corn, tomatoes squash and basil for her homemade pesto. The dry weather has slowed growth but I have irrigated for some relief. The raspberry patch is loaded with small berries and I’m not sure if they will be as good as some years but we will know soon enough. We are looking forward to July and family vacation. Take care all.

                                        “Gang Warily”,
                                             Greg and Pat

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