Tag Archives: Maine

Ice Age survivors: a tale of two land-locked fish

Maine lakes are home to two evolutionary wonders of the animal kingdom, Arctic char and landlocked salmon, related species of fish that exist in very few places. They descend from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Evolution took them on diverging pathways during repeated ice ages. The char stayed farther north, swimming […]

Poem for a blizzard

Portland Press Herald photo   MAMMOTHS by Catherine Schmitt Snow plows thunder down the street like mammoths parading before the new ice sheet. Clashing tusks, crash of plow on pavement, stiff-legged stomp in the early dusk. What is bone, iron, brick wears the season in a shaggy coat of icicles. Cold, and snow keeps falling […]

Art Meets Science on Mount Desert Island

As part of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory’s Art Meets Science Cafe series, I presented a history of artists and scientists working together on Mount Desert Island. Focused primarily on the art and artists accompanying scientists in the nineteenth and very early twentieth century, the talk provided a chronology of scientific work in Acadia […]

The Secret Life of Eels

OTHER MIGRATORY FISH get more attention than the American eel. Salmon is the king of fish; the alewife, the fish that feeds all; shad, the founding fish. Sturgeon are dinosaurs; smelt, the ice shack fish. Yet, historically, the eel was more widespread and abundant than any of these in the northeast United States. The undeserved […]

An Oyster Story

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

The Champlain Society Transcriptions

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 […]

Maine’s Wild Oysters

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” […]

On coyotes, deer…and human nature.

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 […]

Students as conservation catalysts

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.

Visionary science of the “Harvard Barbarians”

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 […]