Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Norton Preserve in Kittery, Maine

Given a hot tip for hiking in the nearby town of Kittery by our friend, George Derby, Hannah and I have a free Saturday afternoon to explore the trails of the Norton Preserve. You see, our grandson Max’s seventh birthday party has been postponed one day due to unusually cold early May weather.  Though the trailhead to the conservation land of the Kittery Land Trust is unmarked, George’s direction are as solid as a full house over a kangaroo straight.

Driving down Route One from York to Kittery, we, after the Pig’s Fly Bakery, turn left on Lewis Road.  After a mile or so, Lewis Road ends at Norton Road, which is where we turn left down the dead-end toward the trailhead.

Large yellow house (to the upper left) is where the grassy path (below) begins.

Well, mostly grassy!

Down this country/residential road, we park on the right side one hundred yards from the road’s end in one of the six parking places.  Walking up to a wide grassy path past a country estate with its own tennis court, we, in short order, reach the sign showing the four color-coded trails at our disposal.

Let the white trail begin!

Hiking left on the white trail through a forest of oaks, pines, and trees long since dead and spread around like pick-up sticks, we have regularly spaced white blazes on the trees to guide us.  I never knew the origin of the term “blaze,” the colored markers on trees to guide hikers, until Hannah pipes up that we are blazing a trail.  One good thinker.

Reaching the junction of the yellow trail, with the wetlands to our right we head north towards the Kittery/York line. Stepping around a small creek where logs have been placed for us to cross without sinking into the gooey ooze, we soon notice that the yellow blazes have ended.  Entering the unmarked trails (as of May 2021) of the York Land Trust, we easily hike our way to Bartlett Road in York.

Trail rerouting by the York Land Trust

Returning the way we came, we eventually take a left on the orange trail that weaves in and out on a path parallel to the yellow trail.  

After an hour, we return to the trailhead pleased that a ten-minute drive from our home has us hiking in the woods of southern Maine. 

The next day the sun shines for Max’s seventh birthday party with both sets of his grandparents and local cousins.  We do so appreciate celebrating outside together after a pandemic year.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Dinosaur Crunch is Max’s favorite ice cream from the local Sully’s Ice Cream Stand. It’s on his Omi’s chocolate cupcake with M and M’s atop cream cheese icing.

Later in the week, we add our Peace flag to our front yard.

Dan and Hannah Pay It Forward – Pandemic Style – KGUA #40

Winter evening in York

Funny how paying it forward works.  Let me explain.

The best gift, bar none, Hannah and I ever received as parents was when someone would take our young kids so we could get away for some “us” time.  League leaders in this category were my mom and dad.  Regularly, they would settle into our house in York, Maine with Molly, Robyn, and Will while Hannah and I would take two nights going up the coast to Camden.

Circa 1945 My mom and dad in the Pacific during WWII

With the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, Hannah and I have a chance to pay it forward with our daughter Molly’s family.  Our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), have been remote schooling and hanging with their parents going on 12 months. 

Now that Hannah and I are two weeks past our second Pfizer vaccine for Covid, we are set to have the boys for our famous 24 Hours of Owen and Max.  Molly and her hubby Tip get to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

The first weekend in March is still winter in Maine.  Highs this Saturday are in the upper 20s; though the sunshine adds a few degrees, the wind takes away a few more.

The Home Depot Kids’ Workshop has been cancelled, the York Public Library is not an option.  Basically it’s the great outdoors.

Taking the boys to the mailbox, Hannah turns toward the icy pond in our front yard.  The boys have their plastic sleds and we all have struck outdoor gold.

After an early lunch, we pile into our Prius for George Derby’s place on the Atlantic where we hunt for sea glass, explore the rocky coastline, and get nicely surprised by George just returning from clamming. 

Sea glass hunting
With Owen, George is just back from clamming with a peck of clams, which is about 15 pounds of clams
Owen with the clam fork

Just north of George’s place is the Fort McClary State Park for further exploring and a short trail hike.

A wintry 28F on the coast of Maine at Fort McClary State Park
Cannons that protected the Maine coast in days gone by
Owen, Max, and their Omi at Fort McClary

After three hours outside, we all return to our Chases Pond Road place.  The boys settled in with a Netflix movie, Bigfoot Family, while I go to the York House of Pizza for dinner.  Then Hannah and I have a glass of wine to toast our extended family.

After their large pepperoni pizza and our mushroom, we play cards, Sevens and Sh-theed.  Bedtime by 730P leaves us all ready for a good night’s sleep.

Next morning, Hannah makes omelets-to-order.  Max choses cheese while and Owen opts for onion.

Twenty fours after I picked up the boys, I return them to their pop.

It was one of the best 24 hours of the entire winter!  As you can see, paying it forward has multiple winners!

Max and his cheesy omelet
Owen digs onions in his omelet

By the way, when asked to rate Bigfoot Family from one to ten (ten being high), no surprise that the children of a math educator (their mom Molly) would rate the movie a 9.7 (Owen) and 9.9 (Max).

Dan and Hannah Pandemic Hike with Owen and Max at Weir Hill, Massachusetts

First off, New England has some unusual pronunciations.  Check these out! Weir of Weir Hill is pronounced Wire??  How about these towns in Massachusetts? Leominster is Lemon-ster, Haverhill is Hayve-rill, and Gloucester is Glaw-ster! 

Owen, Max, and their Omi, parents in the background

With the pandemic winter here in New England, Hannah and I fortunately are still able to winter hike with our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6) and their parents on a regular basis. 

Listen to this line-up of trails that we have hiked since the cold and dark of 2020 came to stay: the Ring Trail at Mount Agamenticus in York, the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, and through Steedman Woods to the Atlantic Ocean in York Harbor.  Our daughter Molly has found us a sweet #4.

Driving 50 miles south from our home on the last day of 2020, we arrive ready to hike the trails of the Weir Hill Reservation, a 194-acre public park located in North Andover, Massachusetts.   Though two weeks ago a foot of snow covered these trails, this New Year’s Eve Day we find that all the snow has melted.    

We hiked the yellow trail that circles the property

The trail begins with no lack of enthusiasm

Fully masked, we opt the 2.3 mile Weir Hill Trail loop with just 130’ of elevation that circumnavigates the property.  Max matches up with his Omi, telling his parents to go ahead because he and Omi have some trash-talking to do.  Trash-talking for this six year old means talking about his strategy for Sushi Go Party, a game that they received for Christmas.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Molly and Tip

By the way, a fish weir is a submerged woven fence with stakes to catch alewives, a type of herring.  Hiking with a first and second grader is not linear; it means stopping and starting; we see them jump on to the larger trailside rocks and balance on the logs along the path.  Other times, Max reaches for my hand and Owen for his Omi. 

Arriving along the trail to the Lake Cochichewick, Owen climbs up on a bending trunk and finds a place for his brother. 

Later, Owen and Max scamper out a horizontal tree just above the icy water.  For many reasons, it’s great to hike with Molly’s whole family; among the reasons are that Hannah and I are not responsible for the boys’ safety.  That’s what they have parents for.

Molly and Hannah on the home stretch

Heading back to the trailhead with Molly, I ask her what she thinks lies ahead with the roll out of the Covid vaccines.  Will she feel comfortable resuming normal life once she gets the vaccine?  She just doesn’t know. As a public school teacher, Molly will soon get the vaccine.  What if 80% of the population has received the vaccine, what will she have her family resume doing?  She and I have no answers about what we will do. Stay tuned.

Even though we are 70+, I’d be surprised if Hannah and I get vaccines before spring.  I take on a mindset – expect the good.   There is a part two when needed.  If the not so good happens, find the good.  Worrying ahead of time is just self-induced suffering.

With lots of families on the trail this festive New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Weir Hill trails deliver for us all. 

Dan, his Grandson Owen, and Hydrogen Peroxide

HP two families

Front Row – Will, Owen, Max, Charlotte, Molly  Back Row – Brooks, Laurel, Reese, Tip, Poppa, Omi

Our daughter Molly calls early Saturday morning wondering if she and her family can come up for an afternoon visit on Chases Pond Road.  You see, her brother, our son Will and his family, are here for the week from their home in central New York.

Arriving mid-afternoon, Owen (8) and Max (6) spill out of their 12-year-old Honda Accord on to our front yard where their cousin Brooks (2) awaits.  Nearby, his two month old identical twin sisters, Reese and Charlotte, chill oblivious to the young male exuberance and rough housing.

HP girls

Charlotte and Reese chilling

After late afternoon spaghetti and cucumber salad, Owen turns the bottom of his foot to his mom, feeling a splinter in his foot.  He asks his Omi for a tweezer and Molly works her best to get the splinter out.

When removing it proves elusive, Owen’s Aunt Laurel (an RN) suggests soaking his foot in the kiddie pool and putting some hydrogen peroxide on his foot to loosen the splinter.

Alas, we have no hydrogen peroxide in the house.  So this provides me with the golden opportunity to bring to life Rothermel’s First Theorem of HumanityPeople love to help out.

Jumping into action, I text Laurie across the street to see if she has any hydrogen peroxide.  Returning our text almost immediately, she does, but she is down at the beach for the evening, so we are oh for one.

No problemo.  I text our new next door neighbor Carol, then longtime across-the-street neighbor, Steve, to see if they have any hp.  First Carol, then Steve text back that they do.  We head to Carol’s.

The forest undercover on the way to Carol’s

Walking with Owen through our forest glade front yard, I lead him to Carol’s.  She’s ready with two bottles of hp that she has found in her house.  One has a label from Reny’s (a variety store whose tagline is Reny’s, a Maine adventure) showing that the bottle costs fifty cents.  Giving us that bottle outright, she demonstrates to Owen the welcoming spirit of neighbors helping neighbors; he sees Rothermel’s First Theorem of Humanity in action.

He and I return for a little more soaking then applying the hydrogen peroxide. 

Class is dismissed from Poppa 101 at the University of Chases Pond Road.

By the way, from a valued reader and high school classmate of Hannah’s from New York regarding commenting on my blog and being notified when I respond to your comment

As long as I click the “show me comments” box before posting, all is good. And then WordPress sends me an email confirming that I follow you. I click “confirm” because I’m not sure you’ll see my post if I don’t. WordPress doesn’t notify me that you’ve commented—the comment simply shows up in my email inbox.

Dan and Museum Artifacts – KGUA radio #17 (Hannah’s Fall)

KGUA icon 2

For the August 31, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are told that the museum wants to set up a permanent display case for each writer.  They want us each to pick three artifacts to showcase and free write about them in 200 to 250 words.

My artifacts would be a plate, a dime, and a boogie board.  Let me explain what happened last Saturday (August 22, 2020).

While I am driving to pick up our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), for an overnight at our house, Hannah falls harshly from her bike, landing with no padding on our paved driveway.  She has abrasions on her shoulder, left side, and leg, a baseball-size bruise on her left knee, and throbbing pain in her bruised left elbow.

Omi mandy plate

Mandy’s plate (alternative spelling)

On our way to Urgent Care in town, I know we need a back-up for our grandsons while I tend to Hannah.  Immediately, I think of Mandy.  Without delay, Mandy meets us at Urgent Care and offers to watch the boys.  At home, we have a plate that was made by Mandy and a reminder of our friendship.

Omi Owen's dime

Owen’s dime

Hannah finishes up at the Urgent Care with a cast on her fractured elbow.  Off to the pharmacy at Hannaford’s, she needs her meds for the grimace-inducing spasms in her elbow.  For support, Owen eagerly goes with his Omi while I stay in the car with Max.  Protective, Owen leads Hannah to the pharmacy and signs for her meds since she cannot.  Owen finds a dime in the store on the way out.

 Despite all this, Hannah still wants, as planned, for us all to go the York Harbor Beach with pizza, boogie boarding, and digging moats and castles in the sand.  And we do.

 My museum artifacts celebrate an extraordinary summer afternoon on the coast of Maine.

Omi Max boogie

Max

Omi Owen boogie

Owen

Words – 248

Update

Omi at beach 2

Omi at twilight at the Harbor Beach with her grandson Owen at low low tide

One, I was not allowed to accompany Hannah into the York Hospital Urgent Care because of safety and health concerns from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two, her fractured elbow is clinically described as a closed nondisplaced fracture of the head of the left radius.

Three, three days after her fall, her brilliant orthopedic surgeon Dr. Eberhart of Atlantic Orthopedic cut off her bandage and cast.  To insure that her elbow doesn’t stiffen up, he instructs her that motion and more motion of her am is the key to her recovery.  She just may be playing pickleball next week.  You all know that motion is lotion.

Come September 23, 2020, her pickleball season will officially come to an end as she will have her left bunion surgically removed by the equally brilliant Dr. Juris of Portland Foot and Ankle.

Note bene – Consider commenting to this and every blog.  I respond to every comment, I mean every.  After a day, two, or three, look for my response beneath your comment.  It’ll be there.  You can take that to the bank.

Dan and His 2020 Stimulus Check – The Stories

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog asking for your help in finding a worthy home for my 2020 stimulus check.  Click here for that blog.  It turned out my goal to give away $500 wasn’t enough to meet all the needs.  We gave away nearly $700.

Here are their stories from the people that we have supported.

Stim2 superhero

We learned from Mary (married to my Arizona State roommate Rich) that friends of theirs had a niece born at under two pounds who lived just three months.  When these friends themselves became pregnant, they too had a preemie who was at great risk.  Their son survived; in gratitude, they support the Superhero Project, a non-profit that raises money to support NICU families and babies.  Click here to learn more about the Superhero Project.  Hannah and I are all in.

Stim2 brazil

Our friend Nancy from our Arizona days writes of her student from Brazil who wants to pursue a medical master’s degree.  The young man lives with his uncle’s family in the basement of another family’s house.  He is an only child and his mother (no father) is in Brazil.  He talks to her daily and worries about her health.  Hannah and I appreciate our chance to support this young man.

My colleague at Nevitt Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, Diane, first suggests supporting a cat shelter in Scottsdale, then how great it would be to have breakfast with an elderly friend from Chicago.  This all leads to what’s in her heart.  She’d like to reconnect with a long lost friend over breakfast whose life has been filled with challenges.  Hannah and I support Diane’s efforts.

Stim2 rwanda map

Despite the Southwest connection of the first three entries, Hannah and I have made a few friends since our Arizona days.  One of them is Rose, who worked with Hannah at the Visiting Nurses Association of Portsmouth, NH.  Hannah was the Hospice volunteer coordinator and Rose a nurse.  Rose writes of a wonderful, hardworking couple from Rwanda. The wife was taking English classes before Covid-19 hit, and her hubby worked at Bowdoin College in food service.  They have a beautiful baby boy.

KGUA icon

Our California amiga, Tree, says she will donate to her beloved, local radio station and non-profit, KGUA. KGUA stayed on the air 24/7 during the wildfires, public safety power shutdowns, and most recently, the COVID-19 health crisis. This year, due to the virus outbreak, their annual fundraiser event was cancelled so donations at this time would greatly help them to continue the outstanding work.  We, too, will support KGUA.

Our local friend Mandy nominates her niece who raises three kids, two of whom have special needs.  In addition, her niece works three jobs (nurse in the schools, at the local hospital, and a summer camp for special needs children).  This summer camp is not opening due to Covid-19.  She never complains or asks for support because she is too busy serving and caring for others.  We’ll step up.

Stim2 AFSP

Our neighbor Laurie asks us to support the virtual walk she will do with her daughter to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Due to Covid-19, they cannot walk sixteen miles overnight in Boston as they did last year.  Done.

Hannah’s friend from the College of Nursing at Arizona State, Patty, nominates a co-worker.  (By the way, Hannah was a student in the ASU nursing program for a semester plus, having aced the prerequisite Organic Chemistry to get in!)  Patty’s friend’s unemployment check hit a glitch, and glitches take a long time to fix due to the staggering #’s of people applying for unemployment.  Even though she and Patty were furloughed in March, her friend has yet to receive a check.  She has diabetes, with an expensive monitoring system.  Glad we can help.

Stim2 SAFER bags

Andy’s New York Food Bank in Action

 

Our son Will’s college roommate at St. Michael’s College near Burlington, Vermont, Andy, offers us the opportunity to give to their local food bank, Schuylerville (New York) Area Food and Emergency Relief.   The Food Bank collects large donations of food from the food industry and distributes it to charitable agencies serving 23 counties from Plattsburgh to Newburgh; they provide over 35 million pounds of food a year to 1,000 agencies.  We’ll do more than just give them food for thought.

From our daughter Molly’s Family: 

Stim2 Max

Max’s neighborhood ice cream smorgasbord

Max wants to have an ice cream smorgasbord with our neighbors – he is requesting $25 to buy ice cream from Sully’s and toppings.

Owen would like to buy groceries for the local food pantry and also donate some money – he is requesting $20 for us to buy some groceries and $20 for us to give to them directly.

Tip would like to support Black Lives Matter – Boston because we are committed to learning more, becoming anti-racist, and raising our children to understand white privilege. We are committed to learning, growing, speaking up, and acting for justice and equality.

Stim2 Owen

Owen figuring which items to buy with his $20 (among pasta, cereal, and cans of corn)

Molly would like to support Bail Bonds because “There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man or woman gets depends on the amount of money they have.” I’m requesting $50 for the local Massachusetts fund.  By the way, Molly’s family is going to match our gifts to the food pantry, Black Lives Matter, and Bail Bonds.

Stim2 Owen with bags

Thanks to these folks for coming through for Dan and Hannah.  Their stories make me realize that in addition to giving some money away, my companion goal was to strengthen our connections and further build relationships with others.  By others letting us know of the folks in need, Hannah and I become a little closer to the families in bold listed above who brought these stories to us.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max at the Acton (Maine) Fair

Living within an hour of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), each month Hannah and I spend two to three afternoons/evenings with them at their home in the Bay State.  Regularly, we also have “24 hours of Owen and Max” where the boys come to York for a day and an overnight, so our daughter Molly and her husband Tip get some time to themselves.

Acton 4 Owen first day

Acton 4B Max on first day

Acton 4A M, O, and M on first day

Our grandsons with their teacher mom!

There was no better gift for Hannah and me, as parents of young children than when we had my mom and dad come to Maine to take Molly, Robyn, and Will for three days/ two nights.  Manna from heaven. In bowling terms, it was a 300 game.

Acton map Y to A

With “24 hours of Owen and Max” beginning, we drive inland from our home on the coast of Maine this late August Thursday to a small time agricultural fair in the little burg of Acton (population 2,427).  Get these prices.  Parking is $4, the admission for Owen and Max is free, and Hannah and I pay a mere $8 each (Fridays seniors are $4!)

Acton 1 Han and Max

Eating fair food and the oxen pulling contests are at the top of the boys’ list.  Normally, in teams, oxen pull pallets loaded with concrete blocks up and down the dirt grandstand show path.  Unfortunately this year, we arrive after the oxen pulling and settle for the oxen strutting their stuff for the assembled small crowd of folks and judges.

Acton 1A Max as cow and H

Undeterred, we’ve brought pbj and veggies with humus for lunch.  Ah, but the boys have their sights on bigger fair fare.  You see, we give each one $4 to spend on whatever food they want.  Right off the bat, and before lunch, they each opt for a $2 bag of buttery, movie-style popcorn from the local Rotary club.  With the planned-for lunch no longer on their minds, we walk the midway to find how they will best spend their final $2.

Acton 3 Max on ride

Max low riding

And then we hit gold.  While ice cream cones everywhere are $3 or more, $8 funnel cakes and over-priced deep-fried anything is everywhere, we stumble upon two young men raising money to go to India to build a dam for the local population who are selling one scoop cones for a dollar.  One simolean!

Acton 2A ice cream guys

The next generation is in good hands with these young men looking out for the world

Owen opts for strawberry and Max mint chip, a personal favorite of mine.  Going down easily, the $1 cones mean they still have a greenback left.   They want another cone.  Wouldn’t you?  It’s their dollar; their choice takes Hannah back to a favorite childhood memory when her dad gave her money for three cones in one afternoon.

Acton 2 Fire and Rescue

Acton Fire and Rescue Team with three loyal supporters

While waiting for the carnival rides to open at 4P, Hannah notices two guys and a young woman from the Acton Fire and Rescue Squad sitting on a picnic table.  Hannah turns to Owen, Max, and me and suggests that we buy cones for the three and their nearby chief.  I approach the three and say, Have I got a great offer for you!  To thank you for your service, we’d like to buy you each a cone.  Can we?  How could they say no!  They can’t.  They don’t!

Gratefully, today we celebrate another of our 24-hour days with Owen and Max, this time at the Acton Fair!