Each variety of oyster—that craggy and somewhat mysterious shellfish—has a story to tell. But every oyster story must first include a bit of background. What are oysters? Where did they come from? Why are they here, now? Read An Oyster Story in the 2015 Island Journal, published by the Rockland, Maine-based Island Institute and featuring […]

handwritten notebooks

In the Spring 2015 issue of Friends of Acadia Journal, Maureen Fournier, a seasonal ranger for Acadia, and I describe the experience of reading and digitizing the nineteenth-century notebooks of the Champlain Society. From their notes, we can trace their movements across the island as they collected specimens, made observations, and talked to local residents […]

A preview of the forthcoming The President’s Salmon can be found in today’s Boston Globe Magazine. Politics, preservation, and salmon fishing: an annual rite of the Penobscot River sporting world brought a Maine angler and the year’s first Atlantic salmon to the president’s doorstep.

After an epic winter, spring arrived in the Penobscot River Valley. Ice is out on the lower river and most of the tributaries, and the water temperature has reached a still-chilly 5 degrees Celsius. Fred Trasko and the rest of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife crew are preparing to transfer 24,000 smolts to the river […]

Scientists are studying isolated oyster grounds in Maine’s Sheepscot River that may date back to the last ice age. Meanwhile, as the aquaculture industry has grown and coastal water temperatures have warmed, cultured oysters have begun to multiply on their own elsewhere, particularly in the brackish waters of the Damariscotta River. Both kinds of “wild” […]

porch

The essay, “The Coyote Gangs of Hope,” which appears in the Winter 2014 issue of 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction, is set in Midcoast Maine in 2010-2011, when confrontations between coyote hunters and property owners prompted legislation to address trespass and hunting methodology. The ensuing debates brought up questions of class and land use […]

50islan2014

This third and final (for now) article on the Champlain Society explores how students can be effective agents of change, and the connections between place, memory, and identity. Published in the 2014 Island Journal.

The Mount Desert Island Historical Society asked me to write an article about The Champlain Society for the 2014 issue of Chebacco, their annual publication. The theme was “Against the Tide: Outliers and Controversies.” At first, the members of the Champlain Society wouldn’t appear to be outliers. I wasn’t sure the story would work for […]

influencedbynature

In May 1871, Charles William Eliot had been president of Harvard College barely two years, and a widower just as long. He needed a break, for himself and his two young sons, a “thorough vacation” in the open air, as he wrote to a friend. He found means in Jessie, a 33-foot sloop, and began […]

The Department of Marine Resources has closed upper Penobscot Bay to fishing after a court-ordered study found elevated concentrations of mercury in crab and lobster. Mercury pollution comes from lots of places, but this particular part of the Penobscot is a hotspot of contamination thanks to Holtrachem, a now-closed plant that made chlorine and other […]

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