Down East 2013 ©
I live in California and every year I vow to buy a subscription and fail. Now I can buy it on my iPad and be ready for our annual Maine trip!
Gloria Contreras Houston
My wife was born and raised in the Farmington area. Her parents moved here from New Jersey when she was twelve. Her maternal grandfather, Refino (Feno) Collette, owned an ice business for many years, supplying the local dairy as well as townsfolk and summer campers at many of the camps in the area. He had an icehouse in West Farmington and used sawdust to keep the ice right through summer.
When the February issue of Down East arrived, I was amazed at the article entitled “The Ice Age.” I had, of course, heard many stories of the ice business down through the years, including those from Grampa Collette. My wife and her cousins would help Grampa peddle his ice and camp wood during the summer, riding in his ice truck while he made his rounds.
I was especially interested in the mention of the Cobb’s Pierce Pond Camps’ antique ice-cutting machine. Cobb’s reportedly bought the machine from the Titcomb family. I vividly remember Grampa telling me about a very similar machine that he owned. In fact, according to my wife’s uncle (Feno’s son), Grampa sold his equipment to the Titcomb family when he retired.
David W. Rumpeltin
Ramsey, New Jersey
Concerning your February 2013 cover story “Northern Light”: “Astronomers tell us that the days begin to grow longer on December 22 . . . Sunrise comes a minute sooner, sunset a few seconds later.”
Actually an astronomer (I am one) would tell you that the days do start to get longer (by a few seconds) on December 22, but the changes in sunrise and sunset are not symmetrical. In fact, sunrise doesn’t start coming earlier until about January 4, whereas sunset starts to come later as soon as December 16. (Check a sunrise/sunset table for yourself.)
There are two factors that affect sunrise and sunset times: one is the northern hemisphere beginning to tilt back toward the sun around December 22, but the other is the fact that not until January 3 is the Earth closest to the sun in its orbit, and therefore traveling fastest eastward. The tilt factor by itself would cause sunrise to become earlier and sunset later; but the speed factor by itself would cause both sunrise and sunset to come later. So at sunrise the two effects cancel each other for a while, but at sunset they reinforce each other. Hence the later sunsets begin to happen in mid-December while the earlier sunrises don’t happen till early January.
A similar asymmetry occurs in June, where the earliest sunrise is reached around June 8 but the latest sunset is not till June 25.
And you are quite right that by February the days are getting longer faster, until the March equinox, when the rate begins to slow down till the summer solstice.
The Elephants in the Room
Amy Sutherland’s article “Never Forget” on the strange history of elephants in Maine prompted a range of responses, some supporting Hope Elephants, the new sanctuary in Hope, others opposing. Here are a few:
“Being captive in a heated barn during a Maine winter is not adequate for an elephant, especially ones with arthritis and pain like Rosie and Opal.”
“I hope the elephant sanctuary in Maine can help more abandoned or retired elephants for years to come.”
“Elephants do not belong isolated in wintry warehouses, but in family groups in sanctuaries.”
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According to a study looking at key words from 10 million tweets, Maine is the happiest state in the continental United States. We asked our Facebook fans what makes them so happy to live in Maine. Here are the most common words from more than one hundred responses:
Where in Maine?
Photographed by Susan Cole Kelly
This fishing shack with its dozens of lobster buoys at the mouth of the Cape Neddick River in York in the February issue has long been a beacon for us and for many others — for those who pass it every day as we did on our way to work and for the fishermen who use the tiny Cape Neddick tidal harbor. Canadian geese, buffleheads, and other ducks feed nearby, and in the summer great blue herons and cormorants fish the river — once, during one cold winter when the river was frozen, we spied a gray seal on the river ice a hundred yards upstream.
Up the road and around a bend is the Nubble lighthouse, one of the most photographed in the state and now the property of the town of York. But this lobster shack is a different kind of beacon for residents and visitors alike: It lights the day as it glimmers in snow and sleet and heavy rain and fog and the brightest sunshine and is a welcome home for the Cape Neddick River fishermen and kayakers. A blessing for all who pass.
Our Favorite Letter
I imagine you have had many replies, but I thought I would add a bit of personal history. Both my grandfather, Grafton Hutchins, and my father, Harry, fished out of Cape Neddick: my grandfather from before 1900 to WWII and my father for about thirty years after the war.
My father had his “storage room” on the side you have pictured. Of course, it did not look or smell as nice as it does today. I can still experience the harsh mixture of smells in that little space like it was yesterday — the pungent hemp, old wood, salt, dead seaweed, and, above all, the “pogies,” which my father had salted in barrels for bait. No amount of salt would ever make them bearable — especially in that confined space when it was about eighty-five degrees and sunny. I have often thought that if people really knew what lobsters like best to eat, they would never want any.
Faith Hutchins Webster
Cape Neddick, Maine
Each month Down East editors select our favorite response to “Where in Maine?” The winner receives a Down East wall calendar.