Bob's music page
Mapquest map of Mayfield. This map doesn't show the lake, but it gives general idea of where we are. The lake shows up just west of the red star if you choose the "aerial image." If you actually plan to visit, we will meet you at the border with a blindfold for the rest of the trip to our undisclosed location (rest assured that Dick Cheney is not hiding in our basement.)
Google Earth placemark
of Potters Lake (does show the lake.) If you have Google Earth
on your computer (and everyone should, it's the best free program in the
world), just click on the link above and the program should open with a
mark right next to the house.
|Welcome to Potters Lake, New Brunswick
Live video via satellite from Potters Lake
Leave a message for Bob and Cate or other viewers on our new Message Board/Guestbook. It's easy!
When finished, hit the back button on your browser to
return to this page.
June 29, 2009
School is out and we've just completed our first full week at Potters Lake for the summer. So far the sun has been out for perhaps a couple of hours, only. Avid webcam watchers will attest to the non-stop fog and rain. Thankfully, what you can't experience on the camera are the swarms of mosquitoes and blackflies. Normally the blackflies are done for the season by now, but the continuous rain has kept streams and ditches flowing, creating perfect breeding conditions for these little terrors.
But, this doesn't diminish our pleasure at being here and our enjoyment of the views from every window! Yesterday while watching a mother black duck and three ducklings swimming along the North Shore, Cate noticed some movement behind them. A black bear was moving along through the high grass. We watched it for some time through the scope and even snapped some pictures before it made its way deep into the forest. Although the bear was only about 500 meters from the house, in the photographs it just looks like a black lump in the high grass so we won't bother to post the images. We'd just as soon it doesn't come any closer either...
The official Ice Out photo (below) shows the last of the floes from the north end sailing by. There is a bit of accumulated ice down there in the south end, but we won't worry about that.
Congratulations to Doug Coughran of Perth Australia, a person with many extraordinary skills, but exceedingly little experience with frozen lakes. Doug and Dawn will be traveling from Western Australia to Potters Lake on August 11 to claim their prize!
Potters Lake Ice Out Contest
We're looking for guesses on the date that the north end of the lake is free of ice - all clear blue water from the house to the big rock in the middle and all the way across to the far shore.
So if you want to play, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your guess - there's a bottle of New Brunswick bubbly (Sussex ginger ale), Nova Scotia wine, or Newfoundland Screech for the winner.
Ice out guesses so far:
March 17, 2009
But for now, if you're interested in knowing what's going on at Potters Lake you can see for yourself - we've set up a live video stream. The equipment is patched together from spare parts that were lying around the house, so we don't know how reliable it will be, but it cost nothing to give it a try. Sorry about the annoying ads that pop up occasionally, the price we pay for free services... but they're easy to click off when they come up. In the bottom right of the video screen is an icon that makes the picture full-screen (the ads are less noticeable).
We hope that we can now watch our sunsets from wherever in the world we might be. But the real incentive for the webcam is that we've begun a friendly pool for guesses on the date of "ice out" at the lake, and the camera gives us a way to keep tabs on the status of the ice and snow as spring progresses.
And keep your eyes out for moose!
February 22, 2008
It's been a quiet couple of months since last we added to our little blog. We write this as we sit by a roaring fire at Potters Lake. Outside a squall is blowing snow horizontally down the lake. If this keeps up we'd almost expect to wake in the morning to giant a mountain of snow on one end of the lake and everything else bare.
Northern New England and the Maritimes are having a real winter for a change. As of two weeks ago there had been nearly 75 inches of snow this season, compared to only about 5 inches last year at this time. Luckily we have a great snowplow guy from St. Stephen and our little 13-year-old four-wheel drive Toyota pickup has gotten us here from Somesville all but two weekends all winter. Nevertheless, our steep, kilometer-long road is essentially a ribbon of ice. Yesterday we had a visit from a carload of friendly Jehovah's Witnesses from town. Their little car got stuck on the way out, of course. So Bob went back to the house for some rope and towed them all the way back up the hill. "Ironic isn't it," said Bob, unable to resist, "Look who's saving whom."
We awoke on Saturday, January 26 to find the lake completely covered with thousands of bowling-ball-sized snow balls. We had no idea what they were. Fortunately, the weekend St. Croix Courier paper from St. Stephen provided the answer with an excellent story and a half-page photograph on its front page (click here). It is a relatively rare phenomenom called "snow rollers" caused by a perfect combination of snow and ice conditions and wind.
Here is a link to another description of snow rollers:
There are a couple of pictures of our snow rollers on the picture page taken from our living room window. When we went out on the lake to investigate more closely we were amazed at how delicate they were. With just a gentle touch they would disintegrate with barely a trace.
This week we are here for Cate's February school vacation. Among our projects was getting some firewood - we have burned more than we expected. But mostly we've been reading, knitting, playing music, birdwatching, hiking on the ice-covered lake, and watching the view change throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky.
A highlight of this trip was the cold, crystal clear night that we had to view the lunar eclipse on February 20-21, the last total lunar eclipse for nearly three years. It was 12 degrees F with a very stiff wind blowing across the ice, but watching the brilliant sky until after 2 AM while listening to the otherworldly sounds of the buckling and cracking ice on the lake and the persistent call of a great horned owl from the far shore was spectacular.
Thanks to an all-knowing Santa, for Christmas we got ice cleats for our boots and a heavy ice chisel for cutting holes in the lake. The ice chisel is actually Cate's - very smart Santa. Early in the season Bob would tie a rope on Cate and periodically send her out to test the ice. On January 13th the ice was eight inches thick in front of the house. It has been a very cold winter with nights regularly dipping well below zero (F) and by now the ice has gotten very thick. We tend to give up chipping our test holes after a foot.... But last week a fellow from up the road had come down through the woods to the south end of the lake on his four-wheeler with a gas-powered auger. We hiked across the lake to chat and he said that it was two feet thick there in a deep spot, so we suspect it is at least that thick now on our more shallow end. The awesome, eerie sounds that come from the frozen lake are a little disconcerting while one is out on it, but they are constant, beautiful, and fascinating. We can hear the lake's pops, bangs, gurgles, whoomps, and cracks throughout the day and night even from inside the house. It is a sound that we find impossible to describe and we are certain that a recording would simply not capture the effect. Bob suggested that it sounds like the northern lights look.
January 5, 2008
As we write this, nearly three feet of snow cover the ground and the ice here at Potters Lake. We received approximately 50 inches of snow in December, compared to 3.5 inches in December 2006. Our most recent storm, on New Years Day, dumped another foot! Nevertheless, we've only missed getting to the Lake on one weekend due to the weather.
We were very happy to be joined for the US Thanksgiving by Tom, Paula, Malachi, and Liam Brennan from Hines, Vermont. Bob went to high school in Presque Isle with Tom and Paula and they've remained in touch ever since. Sadly, the Brennans were in the area because of the death of Tom's mother, Monica, who was from New Brunswick.
As the ice began to form on the lake in mid-Novermber, the flock of ring-necked ducks that had been here for a month traveled on through and a flock of about a dozen hooded mergansers moved in and stayed until the last bit of open water was gone. Since then, the wildlife has been pretty quiet, but the feeders are full of chickadees, nuthatches, finches, and redpolls, and the occasional bald eagle or goshawk passes by the windows. The eerie, echoing thunder and crack of the ice on the freezing lake and the distant howls of coyotes fill the night.
Two weeks before Christmas we cut down a 10 foot balsam fir for the house and got it set up on its stand in the living room. We also brought a 6 footer back for the Somesville house and mailed a small one to Bob's sister Kathy and husband Mike in Nashville (which was decorated by great-nephews George and Nicholas.)
We arrived at the Lake for Christmas on December 22. Because it was so late in the season, the local grocery store was having a great sale on LED Christmas tree lights. So we got all that we needed (and more) for a huge tree and unpacked Bob's family's ornaments, which had not been hung since their last Christmas on Islesford in 1992. The result was magic, right up to the ancient old angel on top, who only can be reached from the balcony! Our Christmas was spent mostly indoors, cozy by the fire and the tree, watching storm after storm cover the lake with a thick blanket of fresh snow.
We were back in Maine on December 30 to get ready for a gathering in Sullivan of all of Cate's siblings and their families for New Years. Thanks to yet another huge snowstorm we had a last-minute change of venue and ended up having a very festive party right in sister Stephanie's motel room in Bar Harbor.
We had to postpone our annual trip to visit Cate's family in Boston this year because our 13 year old dog, Snorri, was sick, and continued getting sicker in the weeks leading up to the holidays. We'll spare you the rather long story involving two surgeries and follow-up care at home over the course of three weeks, but despite everyone's best hopes and efforts he kept failing. On the afternoon of January 3, back in Maine, Snorri died of what turned out to be a very aggressive form of cancer.
Snorri came to us in the spring of 1995 via the Bangor City Pound, where he had been placed by the police as a runaway from Winterport. Prior to his adoption we had been developing a joint US-Iceland research expedition, so he ended up with a good Icelandic name after the 12th-13th century Icelandic author Snorri Sturluson (Prose Edda and Icelandic Sagas.)
Snorri was a sweet and friendly fellow who, throughout his life, never lost his drive to run, regardless of who or what was dragging along behind him. He loved his woods and beaches in Maine and especially enjoyed his new home at Potters Lake, New Brunswick.
He was a constant presence in our lives and is sadly missed.
Bob, Cate, and Dida
October 31, 2007
As the maples have mostly shed their leaves, the colors on the lake have turned from reds to golds provided by the changing birches, poplars, and hackmatacks as seen in a picture of the first morning light hitting our northwest shoreline. Joining our usual assortment of chickadees, juncos, sparrows, gold and purple finches, and nuthatches, an Eastern Towhee visited the lake for a week, a strikingly beautiful bird that is rather uncommon this far north.
Beaver update: They took away all the little wild cherry trees in our yard and apparently have moved on to other parts of the forest. We expect that both our trees and the beavers will return.
We always remember Kathy and Bob's parents on Halloween. They were married 65 years ago today. We've posted their favorite picture of themselves, taken on George's 68th birthday on Islesford (1983.)
Once again, you can expect we will be providing Trick-or-Treaters with
garlic, leeks, onions and other Halloween treats from our garden in Somesville
- we really don't understand why children seem to avoid us on Halloween!
October 14, 2007
We also discovered that during the past week, while we were in Maine, the local beavers had chewed their way into our backyard through the picket fence and had absconded with a couple of the wild cherry trees - pulling them right out through the hole they had made in the fence! We found nothing but a few bare twigs down on the beach. Last night they came back to finish off another large tree that they had cut down but not yet managed to drag to the lake. Pictures are posted - click here! Now we need to decide whether to fix the fence (which they seemed determined to destroy as fast as we repair it) or simply let them have the rest of our trees...
Last weekend was Columbus Day in the US, but it was Canadian Thanksgiving here at Potters Lake. Giving thanks in Canada somehow seems much more appropriate these days. Cate's parents (Grace and Charlie), brother Chris and family - Tora and Wolf, and sister Bridget and husband Chris were here for the long weekend. Bob ended up doing a better job cooking and being a tour-guide than he was a getting around to taking family pictures, but there are a few posted on the site. The house comfortably slept nine people over the weekend in four bedrooms with no one on a couch or the floor! And the food was great - a 21 pound turkey, lots of stuffing, potatoes, beans and garden corn from Somesville, squash, turnip, cranberry sauce, and 0.75 pies per person (apple, pumpkin, mince.)
"Hurry! Turtles!!" Cate exclaimed, oxymoronically.
We have also posted a set of a dozen images from September that show the beginning of the autumn foliage, some members of a flock of ring-necked ducks that have called the lake home for the past month, and a few other pretty pictures.
Everyday we see the signs of winter coming on amid the remnants of summer. Two weeks ago we awoke to a heavy frost and two flocks of geese heading south over the lake (approximately 400 geese.) But last weekend a short warm spell brought out the calls of spring peepers for one last hurrah before winter.
Lots of new pictures have been added to the site since the last posting
in late August, so have a look. Some of these images are rather large
files and may take a while on dial-up, sorry, but they look so much better
August 24, 2007
Three days ago we watched the last one of our five black duck chicks leave the lake. At sunset it stood on the favorite evening roosting rock out in the lake all by itself and began to look around frantically and quack. Finally after a half hour or so of this it took off to the southeast just clearing the trees, and it was gone.
Last Sunday we took a drive north along the St. Croix River. Actually, we were inspired by our road map on which the next road over from ours seemed to go on and on to nowhere in particular except that it ends at a little map symbol of a picnic table! So we thought - let's have a picnic.
Turns out that we ended up at a wonderful picnic area/campsite along
the river that is managed by the St. Croix International Waterway Commission.
There are several such sites along the river and its beautiful lakes on
both sides of the border. A wonderful, easy paddle for a couple of
days would be to put in a canoe at the international bridge at Vanceboro,
Maine/St. Croix, New Brunswick and continue downstream to Grand Falls,
less than 10 miles from our house. There are really great, well-maintained
campsites along the way.
It was wonderful to have Leslie Wellington here for a few days last week too. She was a great companion and aid to Bob and Kathy's mother and to all of us last summer. We are glad that we have remained close. This past Wednesday marked the one-year milestone of Kathleen's passing and it was good to spend it here at the lake where many of her things, including much of her artwork, have settled with us.
We left the lake for a short period from August 7th until the 13th while Cate had a great family adventure. On the 8th she drove to Rockland to pick up her mother from the Vinalhaven ferry and drove on to join up with Uncle Jack and Aunt Martha Jones at their home in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The next morning the four of them drove to Logan Airport to fly to North Carolina for Cate's great aunt, Helen Kennedy's birthday party. Helen turned 100 on August 10. Despite long flight delays and minor car breakdowns, the party, much of it planned by Helen herself, was a smashing success and Helen seemed to enjoy the company of family!
Cate feels so fortunate that she was able to attend this great event for a wonderful lady. We learned that in the following week Helen had a fall and shortly thereafter passed on.
Cate has posted a few words along with some pictures of the party.
Bob has also added some new pictures from the Lake.
August 11, 2007
We have ospreys on the lake constantly, although there is no good nesting tree for them (we may remedy that with a platform.) Bald eagles have become common on the lake as well. One morning last week one swooped in and grabbed a very large fish right in front of the house.
The big news for the week was a massive electrical storm like nothing either of us had ever seen. We watched it moving in from Aroostook County to the northwest just after sunset and eventually it just enveloped us for more than three hours with the most amazing fireworks. The rain was intense, too, but brief, so we could watch from outside for the final hour or so. Finally sometime after midnight, we watched it move out over the Bay of Fundy and continue to the east. It even put the electricity out at the house for a while, which is very unusual here.
We also discovered this week that we have an island - our own island - on the western side of the lake across from the house. There are wood ducks there regularly, they may nest there, so, for now anyway, we'll call it Wood Duck Island. We've circumnavigated it in the canoe a couple of times, and we also explored the outlet of the lake on the far south end - a very beautiful spot with a bog.
We are constantly aware of the ever-changing sky, especially since it
is doubled by the reflection in the lake. We could fill the image
page with sunset pictures - every night a new show - but we won't - instead
come see for yourself. There are a few images added this week though,
which, of course include one sunset.
Try contacting us through our new email address:
July 28, 2007
All this took place during an otherwise busy week, with Bob's family all visiting on Mount Desert. Nephew David from California arrived on July 12 followed on the 14th by nephew Chris his family, Christine and twin six-year-olds George and Nicholas from Maryland, and his sister Kathy from Nashville. So we were busy packing our pickup truck and making trips to Canada between horse and carriage rides up mountains and lobster cookouts on beaches.
One beautiful day was spent with the family on Islesford. We had a simple family memorial at the Sand Beach cemetery for George and Kathleen, our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Five-year-old twins George and Nick placed special rocks on the gravestone, Kathy read two poems, and Bob on banjo and Chris on guitar played the Bowman Waltz, composed for George and Kathleen by family friend, hammered dulcimer player Dan Duggan.
On Saturday, July 21, we saw the second and third generations off to their opposite sides of the continent, while Kathy stayed for the big move to Potters Lake with the 16-foot U-Haul trailer and pickup truck loaded to their roofs, and both of our deviant dogs in tow.
We cleared customs and had a quick shop for groceries in St. Stephen, arriving at the lake just moments before the beautiful sunset seen in the first picture posted on the site today.
Kathy helped all week cleaning and unpacking the kitchen and fixing up her room, but we think she had a pretty relaxing week all the same - also illustrated on the picture page.
So that's all for now. We are back in Maine for a few days after delivering Kathy to the airport yesterday, but we will be at the lake for most of August, with a few quick trips for work, family, and to tend the garden in between.
By the way, as it is currently set up, the house sleeps 10, so stop by! There are resident loons, beavers, bunnies, osprey, eagles, lots of songbirds, hummingbirds, black ducks, wood ducks, whippoorwills, nighthawks, deer...haven't yet seen a moose or a bear, but we've only been there five days!
Nine new pictures are posted on the site - the first we've taken without
snow and ice!
April 7, 2007
For now we have set up this quick and simple website just to make it a bit easier for us to share pictures and adventures from our future home and other items of interest. We'll try to dress the site up a little better over time, but people have been asking for pictures and we wanted to get some out soon, so here they are.
The house and its setting is even better than it looks in the pictures. On the dismal cold wet mid-March day when we first visited, it took our breath away. I suppose it's not for everybody, but it has a lot going for it for us. We won't own the whole lake, but we are purchasing the house and 40 acres. It is the only house on the 113 acre lake. The house sits all alone at the end of its own half-mile-long private drive. Our private driveway is the only drivable access to the lake from the main road.
The lake is located in the village of Mayfield, just northwest of St. Stephen, New Brunswick. For those of you familiar with MDI, Potters Lake is a little larger than Somes Pond. It's only three miles from the US border. It's not on the ocean, but not far from it. And unlike the nearby 40-foot tides in the Bay of Fundy, it seems to always be high tide on Potters Lake.
The house is fairly new (1990), very well built, well equipped, and well insulated. These are distinctly different traits from our 150+ year-old cabin in Somesville. The partially-finished basement alone is actually bigger than our entire house here in Somesville, and it has two more floors about the same size. We initially thought that the house was not really our style, but everything is very well done and it just feels like you never want to leave. Turns out we don't really have a style, I guess. The house is currently owned by a veterinarian and a wildlife rehabilitator. There are cats everywhere and a couple of dogs too. There is even a large fenced yard for the dogs. The current owners are also great birdwatchers - half the books on their shelves are just like half the books on our shelves. On our first visit we felt like we could have just stayed there for good and hardly missed anything.
We suspect that the lake is probably better for leeches and snapping turtles than it is for water skiing and personal watercraft - which is fine with us. We're already planning where to put up an osprey nesting platform. There are fish (apparently lots of smallmouth bass). The lake will be great for canoeing and, in the winter, for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. So far, we've only seen it frozen!
But for us, the lake is mainly a place to watch and listen. One of the most attractive things about the spot is its privacy and quiet without isolation. Aside from the occasional jet far overhead going to or from Europe, there is not a sound to be heard besides the wind and the birds. The only sign of civilization is a barely-visible plume of steam rising from a paper mill nearly five miles away in Woodland, Maine.
While the house is half a mile from a quiet rural road and the nearest neighbors, it is very convenient to urban areas, shopping, and culture - maybe more than we are here in Somesville. It is only five minutes from St. Stephen, an old river town town sort of like Ellsworth, Maine. Right across the river is Calais, Maine. Between them are all the normal everyday shopping and services that one could want, with the Canadian equivalents of giant auto parts and hardware stores, and big new supermarkets, and, yes, even Wal-Mart (in Calais). Both of these towns are experiencing a bit of cultural revival after the period of talent and youth drain that all small cities seem to experience periodically.
Ok, that's all just five minutes away. St. Andrews is 20 minutes away. It is a seacoast resort town, kind of like Camden, Maine, with many businesses, including the famous Algonquin Hotel, open year-round. It's genuinely quaint and very beautiful in a B & B, café, boutique sort of way, but also has a small commercial fishing fleet and even whale watching. We can launch our boat there and be out on the Bay of Fundy in minutes. The Bay of Fundy was, of course, our original attraction to the area - an astonishing habitat for whales and seabirds where Bob has worked for more than 25 years.
Also in St. Andrews are the St. Andrews Biological Station (government laboratory) and Huntsman Marine Science Centre, a research and teaching institution with a public aquarium.
Potters Lake is about 45 minutes from the ferry to Grand Manan - one of our favorite places in the world, where we have a long history. We will visit there much more frequently now!
Saint John, an hour away, is the largest city in New Brunswick with 70,000 people. It's actually a rather beautiful city, very comparable to Portland in both size and style, although somewhat more industrial. It has a terrific museum and a huge indoor marketplace that takes up a whole block of downtown. A ferry runs from here across the Bay of Fundy to Digby, Nova Scotia. Moncton, a little farther down the road, is a similar size. Not just hockey here, lots of culture. Sure Lorne Greene, Dana Carvey, Peter Jennings, Alex Trebek, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell all moved to the US, but, the traditional music revival in the Maritimes is truly incredible and is a significant cultural draw for us.
Oh yeah, did we mention that St. Stephen is "Canada's Chocolate Town?" Its largest employer is the Ganong Chocolate factory. We visited the chocolate museum where, among many unexpected things, there is a statue of Evangeline carved from a 500 pound block of chocolate. No, we're not worried about culture if we move to Canada!
Bangor is about an hour and a half away (fly to there and we'll pick you up), two hours to Mount Desert Island, and about three to Rockland and the ferry to Vinalhaven and Cate's parents.
We hope to close on the house by the end of June.