CDC launches community garden

St. George residents who want to grow their own vegetables, but don’t have a suitable place to grow them, have an opportunity to participate in a new community garden located on the grounds of the Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor. Eight 10’ x 25’ plots (protected by deer fencing) that people can share or work individually are available on a first-come, first-served basis by contacting Alane Kennedy at the Community Development Corporation (CDC) office in Tenants Harbor at 47 Main Street (207-372-2193 or info@stgeorgecommunity.org).

The community garden project, which has been spearheaded by CDC Advisory Committee member Dale Pierson, is an outgrowth of the Community Cupboard which the CDC launched last year. The plan is to have the plots ready for planting by May 24. The town’s transfer station will supply compost. For their part, gardeners will be asked to adhere to a simple set of guidelines to guarantee the garden is kept clean, neat and free of chemical herbicides and pesticides.

Volunteers interested in making themselves available to mentor novice gardeners or otherwise be helpful can also sign up at the CDC office.

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Dental clinic visits St. George May 15

St. George Community Development Corporation (CDC) announces a mobile dental clinic at 47 Main Street in Tenants Harbor on May 15, 2019, from 3-7pm.  The mission of the dental clinic is to provide residents of all ages with high-quality dental care.  A focus on the long-term benefits of good oral health is important to the ongoing health of all St. George residents.

The clinic, to be run by Tooth Protectors, Inc., has been arranged for by the CDC’S Wellness Committee, which has been discussing the value of oral health over the past year.

“Tooth Protectors, Inc. is a mobile dental practice, specializing in preventative care within Maine communities and schools,” says Tooth Protectors spokesperson Amanda Ray-Noonan.  “We invite community members of St. George to schedule an appointment for our mobile clinic in Tenants Harbor to address their oral health concerns.”

Tooth Protectors accepts MaineCare and other dental insurance.  Financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs may be available through the CDC for community members who are under-insured or without insurance. Community members can schedule an appointment by contacting Alane Kennedy at 207-372-2193 or info@stgeorgecommunity.org.

St. George CDC is a local 501c(3) non-profit in Tenants Harbor whose mission is to work with the St. George community to improve access to healthcare, education and housing and to support economic and community development.  Learn more by visiting www.stgeorgecommunity.org.
—Alane Kennedy, Administrator, St. George Community Development Corporation

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LBJs (Little Brown Jobs)

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Brown Creeper

Spring is here! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the grass is greening (and begging to be mowed!). Goldfinches are gold, cardinals are bright red (granted, they are red year round) and waves of brightly colored warblers, vireos and other songbirds are making their way north eager to join in the local scene. Currently residing somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, these colorful tweeters will make it here soon, timing their arrival with the greening and opening of leaves. These insectivorous songbirds will feast on the leaf-eating “bugs” associated with such greenery, and then fill the bellies of their newly hatched offspring with insect after insect. Only to be eaten by a bigger predator—and a food chain is formed! “Raised on insects,” as they say.

Songbirds, of course, have been showing up for a while now, long before the oaks and maples even considered producing those leaves. These “early” birds weren’t at the mercy of insect/leaf-based food chains, no. Instead they may have obtained nourishment from seeds found on the ground and along roadsides. Or maybe they are master seekers and found insects hiding within tree bark and under fallen leaves. From the habitats the early birds frequent it should be no surprise that these tweeters are often draped in shades of browns and greys, mottled and marbled for camouflage. Yes, these are the birds of roadside bursts, the brown forms that erupt when a vehicle passes, only to return moments later. They are “Little Brown Jobs” or LBJs.

Take a closer look at a flock of LBJs and their diversity becomes apparent. While the majority of LBJs may be the ubiquitous Song Sparrow or Dark-eyed Juncos (Little Grey Job!), local flocks of such “numerous” birds will attract random, less common, migrating species in a “safety in numbers” type of gathering.

Fox Sparrow

One of my favorite (darned tootin’ I have favorites!) early season LBJ species is the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). And measuring in at seven inches, this large sparrow often stands out within LBJ groups. Fox Sparrows are a lesson in diversity on their own—with 16 recognized subspecies in North America! Locally we see the “Red” subspecies (spp iliaca) as they make their way to breeding grounds in way northern Maine and up through Canada and west to the Hudson Bay. And while some years there may be few to zero “Red” Foxes around, conditions this spring resulted in many Redd Foxxes being observed in St. George—including five in my yard alone! A subtle and secondary harbinger of spring, Fox Sparrow migration is just one of many LBJ lessons for the learning.

Chipping Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows are often as numerous as they are noisy (“Pure, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada”). They also add a touch of texture within LBJ flocks with their yellow lores and distinctly patterned head. Savannah Sparrows have an even subtler golden hue, while Chipping and Swamp Sparrows toss “red caps” into the LBJ world. There is a subdued beauty with LBJs that is “right in front of you” while not being “right in your face.” Nice mix.

 

Snow Bunting

 

A surprise LBJ that turned up in the yard this April was a winter-plumaged Snow Bunting. Not an uncommon visitor to the peninsula in fall and early winter, Snow Buntings are often observed in large flocks, flitting in grassy fields and marshes, especially those close to the shore. To have a solo Bunting spend an afternoon of one of the (countless) windy days, recharging and gaining energy from seeds in neighborhood driveways was a first for me. Wouldn’t argue with a repeat session any time!

Where sparrows may be the LBJs of roadsides and grasslands, forests have a set of LBJs of their own. Winter Wrens may not be a “traditional” LBJ, but they fit the profile. They are little, they are brown, they are early returners and they are surprisingly tricky to see even though they are loud and consistent. Another favorite LBJ of the forest is the Brown Creeper. Creepers return at roughly the same time as Winter Wrens, but their soft and delicate song paired with their habit of sticking close to tree trunks make them easily overlooked. Once located, watching a Brown Creeper work its way up the trunk of a tree is a delight to observe. Creepers use their stiff tail feathers for support as they search for tasty insect treats hiding in cervices in tree bark. Inching their way up, higher and higher, only to fly and land low on another tree and start the climb and search all over again.

Migration is a joy to watch in all forms, be it mammal, insect, crustacean or whatever. LBJs are a group that provides a hint about migration. A glimpse of an event that is ongoing, endless and continuously around us. And if warblers take the cake for songbird migration in northeast North America, I guess LBJs might be seen as a tasty appetizer. And some days, depending on who shows up, LBJs may even be the dessert eaten before the meal. Especially if the dessert was a chocolate chip cookie (CCC).

See you out there!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

 

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Celebrating perseverance

When I was in 4th grade, we had a ringer on our softball team. Her name was Alexia Cruz. Our strategy was to try and load the bases the best that we could and Alexia would come in as clean up. She would rocket that ball, flying past second base, soaring over the head of the center fielder, and landing oftentimes in the woods. With those easy runs scored, the team would erupt in exultation, dancing and cheering, as we celebrated yet another win. Alexia went on to an illustrious high school and collegiate athletic career, earning eight varsity letters and captaining Harvard’s track and field team in the early 1990s. However, I digress. All this is to say that the 3rd/4th grade girls team that St. George put up for the annual Mussel Ridge Basketball Tournament this year did not have an Alexia Cruz. What they did have was a group of young girls with tremendous courage and fortitude, exemplifying perseverance.

St. George MSU has embraced expeditionary learning and thus one of our foci is character development. Students and teachers are engaged in discussions and activities that center on habits of success. St. George has defined those as safety, respect, responsibility, perseverance and collaboration. Students reflect frequently on those qualities and they are part of each trimester’s report card.

Perseverance. A quick google search gives the definition as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” The Bouncing Dragons’ season started with a rudimentary understanding of basketball. Only two girls had played on the team last year, so for most everything was new. Dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, offense—all of these things took time, explanation and practice. Lots of practice.

Throughout the season, these girls grew as basketball players. The Mussel Ridge Tournament asked the girls to face off against teams from Camden and Rockland. Despite all their hard work, the girls lost both of their games, 41-4 and 40-2. But it is not the losses or scores that one needs to focus on. For those not able to make it to the games this past March, what you would have seen was a team full of energy and drive, resilience and determination. They ran the court, played hard defense and put up shots. They communicated with their teammates and supported one another. And they had fun.

When a foul shot was sunk, scoring the first point of the second game, the crowd erupted in cheers—startling the player and making her break out in a huge smile. Until the last minute, those girls defended against shots and ran the court with conviction. The girls’ grit and perseverance won the respect of the crowd.

When the final game was over, several of the girls asked if they would have time to do some more drills. They gathered in the hallway as the boys warmed up for their game. Clapping and cheering, the girls did their celebratory dance party, calling each girl into the circle to do a signature move. They closed with their chant, “Let’s have fun! Goooooooo Dragons!”

Learning is often measured by one’s ability to transfer skills to new environments and challenges. As educators, we hope that the lessons students experience at St. George, both academic and character-building, stay with students and help them grow into happy and confident adults. With the myriad of challenges that life throws us, perseverance is a skill that can serve one well. The Mussel Ridge tournament was difficult. The girls did not win their games. But for anyone standing in the hallway that night, those girls were winners. These St. George Dragons were a shining example of perseverance and we hope that they will carry that skill beyond the walls of St. George School.

—Amy Hufnagel (Hufnagel is the behavior specialist at the St. George School. Her husband Joe, along with Angela Vachon and Shasta Minery have been coaching the Grade 3-4 girls basketball team.)

PHOTO: Shasta Minery

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Kitchen garden talk: Deer prevention? (Part two)

Dale Pierson, Martinsville: In my vegetable, berry and small fruit areas, I use row covers when plants are young so I can get easy access during the most critical time and can do later seedings.  Deer rarely bother them when covered.

As the plants grow larger and most of my cultivating/weeding has lessened, I remove the row covers as the plants need the light and many row crops can not stand the extra pressure from wet fabric and may get squashed or diseases can get a start in our moist climate.  I have then used a deer fence (netting) rolled over the rows of susceptible plants, so I can still unroll and do some work on the areas under cover.  This works to some degree but if the deer are extra hungry or the crop is one of their favorites, they will push the fence down and eat what is accessible or what grows up through the mesh.

I have used pepper and repellents sprayed at intervals.  They are expensive and do have to be reapplied after rain or as new foliage grows. I have tried other repellents that you place in the garden area but they too seem to fade quickly.

Last fall I drove some stainless pipe into my rocky soil and capped them for the winter.  This spring I am going to insert fiberglass stakes into the pipe and then hang deer fence 7.5’ tall  all around the garden as soon as my early spring planting and tractor work is done.  This means more hand work after the fence goes in but I hope the fence will work.  I will remove the fence each fall as I do not like the look of a sagging black fence all year. I will still use row covers when I need to as this helps with insect issues also.

In tree and shrub areas, I wrap my fruit trees and our favorites with deer fence for the late fall thru late spring to keep the deer from browsing during bud set, over winter and bud break. After bud break there is usually enough other food for them not to be so problematic.
A pellet gun does make them nervous if they are in the yard during daylight but their favorite feeding time is after dark.

Music I have not tried or sensing lights as I do not want to interrupt our sleep with sporadic sounds and flashes, as my bedroom looks right over the garden area.

I probably should have spent a lot of money at the beginning of developing our gardens and fenced the whole place but that seemed like overkill at the time.

I believe since it is not likely that the deer pressure is going to be reduced, our community is going to have to come up with a town-wide approach to reduce the deer population to a more reasonable population if we are not going to have our yards look like prisons with high wire year round.

That is enough  before I wonder why I have a garden and landscape at all.

Chris Bly, Turkey Cove: I run an extension cord out to the garden. I mount a motion detector socket on a post or wall—something that gives it a better view. Instead of screwing in a light bulb to the detector, I screw in an electrical plug socket. I got both of these at Lowes. I got an old blender at Lisa’s at the Transfer Station and plugged it into the motion detector. So at night when the deer come wandering in, the blender turns on and they run away. The tricky part is protecting the blender from rain. It needs to be under a plastic bucket or something. Also there is a timer on the motion detector for one, three, or 10 minutes. I use three minutes, but one minute might do. Sometimes the wind sets it off. Hopefully it’s not right outside your bedroom window.

Bethany Yovino, Wallston: My veggie garden has fencing around it. We put up an inexpensive fence of that wire coated green stuff with metal stakes. It’s only five feet tall, but the deer have not jumped it yet. I also use a product called Bobbex deer repellent around the other garden spaces in my yard. It works well if you remember to reapply! And one more thing—we have DOGS, lots of dogs! We recommend that every household should have multiple dogs to keep the deer away.

Suzanne Hoyt, Clark Island: I’ve gone with fencing to keep out deer as nothing else I’ve tried, including all the ones mentioned in March’s “Kitchen garden talk” column, have worked.
On another topic, I found the column on sourcing seeds very informative. I still buy from Johnny’s, although I’ve moved toward FEDCO recently and was happy to see them on the list that DID NOT support Monsanto.

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‘Keep it native, not invasive’

Ingrid Mroz

Wiley’s Corner resident Ingrid Mroz heads up the St. George Conservation Commission’s new Invasive Plant Initiative, but she seems a little apologetic about it. “I’m a gardener, but not a master gardener. And with respect to invasive plants I am a novice at best,” she admits, despite the thick stack of notes and printouts about the impact of “alien” plants that sits on the coffee table in front of her, ready for easy reference. Now retired from the faculty of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where she specialized in adult critical care, Mroz knows how to research a topic in depth. But her understanding of what’s at stake in the battle against these problem plant species comes as much from personal experience as from the research she’s been conducting on the topic since heading up the commission’s invasives initiative.

“I didn’t even know what an invasive plant was, truly—it wasn’t anywhere on my radar until we moved to St. George and bought this property seven years ago. Once here, we began to see how certain plants were taking over our property in ways that we weren’t wanting because we had other things we wanted to do with the grounds.”

One of the first of those “other things” was to rescue and expand a raspberry bed inherited from a previous owner. “My husband Bill and I wanted to have a very nice berry patch and there was a large rectangular bed that had fall raspberries in it that we decided to develop. But in amongst all of that were Multiflora Rose, Oriental Bittersweet and Himalayan Balsam. It took us one solid month to clean that rectangle out.” Mroz and her husband then also planted early season raspberries and native blueberry bushes in the bed. “The only thing we’re still battling is the bittersweet,” Mroz now says with satisfaction.

Surveying the rest of their six-acre property, the Mroz’ were also disappointed by how much Himalayan Balsam there was. Eager to begin “farming” in earnest, they began beating the balsam back to clear a space for vegetable beds. Eventually they enlisted the aid of a Kubota tractor and a bush hog to establish a vast kitchen garden that encompasses 3,000 square feet of ground and provides most all of the vegetables the couple consumes each year.

Growing vegetables at this scale made the couple even more conscious of their need for pollinators. Bill built pollinator boxes, but they also began assessing what invasive plants were doing to limit the diversity of vegetation on their property and, thereby, the diversity of insects. A love of birds, too, sharpened their awareness.

“I’m a birder,” says Mroz, “and a lot of these invasive bushes are not good for birds, they are not so nutritious for them as native plants tend to be. As part of the planting plan we have for this property, I think especially about the plants the birds and pollinators are interested in.” This will involve, for example, choosing native plants for new foundation plantings around their home now that exterior renovations have been completed. Previously those plantings had been of invasive species—plants that previous owners found desirable largely for aesthetic reasons. That’s the irony, Mroz says, about the invasives problem.

“A lot of the invasive species we have were planted,” she explains. “The Knox/Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District actually sold some of these plants. And it was only in 2018 that the State of Maine identified 33 invasive plants that nurseries could no longer legally sell because these plants have been spreading voraciously across the land and overtaking native plants that are far more beneficial for birds and animals and bees and so on.” So expecting property owners to suddenly get rid of these plants is unrealistic, Mroz notes, although incrementally progress can be made. “At our property, there are some invasives that we’ll be able to get rid of completely and others that we won’t be able to eradicate completely, but we may be able to limit their spread.”

More difficult might be convincing people who love the look of a mown lawn that these areas are, ecologically speaking, negatives.

Providing educational materials that can support St. George property owners who want to make their own environments as ecologically hospitable to insects and wildlife as possible is one aspect of her invasives work for the Conservation Commission, but at this point Mroz and her colleagues are giving even greater attention to St. George’s public lands. Apart from the new Meadowbrook preserve and High Island, which have no invasives, most of the rest of these lands have thriving populations of invasive plants. Last year the commission co-sponsored with the Georges River Land Trust an “Invasives Walk and Talk” on the Fort Point Trail. This year there will be a program at Blueberry Cove Camp on June 8, “Invasive Plants of St. George: Hands-on Management and Methods,” that will involve identifying invasives on the property and demonstrations of how best to remove some of them.

Meanwhile, St. George students, with the assistance of faculty, Alison England and Amy Palmer, have been studying invasive plants and their impact, identifying and mapping invasive plants located on school property and along Ripley Creek. The students also brainstormed slogans to raise public consciousness about the threat invasives pose to ecological health. The commission chose to adopt one of these, “Keep it native, not invasive,” in some of its future publicity materials. —JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

On the importance of encouraging insect life—and why native plants are key

University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens (Timber Press), points out that insect populations have declined 45 percent globally since 1974. “A world without insects,” his website declares, “is a world without humans!” In other words, if you remove insects from an ecosystem, the ecosystem will collapse because so many other creatures, directly or indirectly, depend on insects for food. And insects depend on plants native to where they live.

To illustrate, Tallamy notes that about 96 percent of all terrestrial birds rear their young on insects. And about 90 percent of all insects that eat plants require native plants to complete their development. That is because plants protect their leaves from being eaten by random creatures with toxic chemicals. Insects can survive after eating those chemicals only after they have evolved physiological mechanisms for detoxifying them. This requires a long evolutionary history between insects and their host plants. Native insects only have such histories with native plants. They have not been exposed to plants that evolved in Europe or Asia—what we call aliens—long enough to be able to use them as host plants successfully.

The conclusion? That every time we plant an alien plant, we are reducing the local insect population and thus depriving the birds and wildlife of the food they need to survive and reproduce. Tallamy and others cite studies that have shown that areas overrun with alien plants produce 35 times less caterpillar biomass, the most popular insect food with birds. Alien plants used in the traditional ornamental trade (think many nurseries) support 29 times fewer species of caterpillars than native ornamental plants. —JW

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Invasive plants of St. George: hands-on management and methods

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), also known as Touch-me-not.

On June 8 the St. George Conservation Commission, in collaboration with Blueberry Cove Camp, will host a program on identifying invasive plant species and removing them led by BCC director Ryan LeShane and Amanda Devine of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Mark your calendar, but look for specific information about start time on the Town of St. George website and in The Dragon and other midcoast publications closer to the date.

St. George’s Conservation Commission launched its Invasive Plants Initiative in 2018. One of the initiative’s first goals was to consult with Maine experts to identify the 12 top invasive plants in St. George. This “dirty dozen” includes Autumn Olive, Barberry (Common & Japanese), Black Swallowwort, Burning Bush, Glossy Buckthorn, Himalayan Balsam, Honeysuckle, Japanese Knotweed. Multiflora Rose, Norway Maple, and Oriental Bittersweet.

PHOTO: Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org

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Woodpeckers and the displays of early spring

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen—

Pileated Woodpecker

By late-winter, the days are noticeably longer and the warmth from the sun intensifies as it rises higher and higher in the sky. Routine winter walks whose main distractions had been animal tracks and “winter stroll silence” (aka wind) are suddenly interrupted with the sounds of avian life and activity. This is a time before the blackbirds, grackles, sparrows, woodcocks and other “early tweeter returners” have returned to turn up the volume as territories and pecking orders are established. No, those early warm(ish) days were for the woodpeckers and corvids (Raven, Crows and Blue Jays). And since I am not the biggest fan of corvids (just being honest here) this column will focus on the increased woodpecker activity as seasons transition from cold and into the somewhat warmishness.

There are six species of Picidae (the woodpecker family) that are regularly found in St. George each year. Northern Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are typically three-season visitors, while Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been increasing in numbers over time but still unpredictable as to the “when, where, and how many.” The Downy, the Hairy and the Pileated Woodpecker species, however, are year-rounders on the St. George peninsula. These species spend the winter months banging their bills into frozen wood in search of nourishment. When those first warmish winter days start to roll around, these woodpeckers are already on their territories and start in almost immediately with displays of courtship and defense—the love and hate of breeding, if you will.

The first sign of changing woodpecker activity I heard this year was “drumming.” In the classic art of non-vocal communication, a drumming woodpecker finds a hollow branch or trunk that resonates and echoes loudly when rapidly pecked—loud enough to be heard from distances. A woodpecker will repeat short drumming bursts in an effort to announce a territory, attract a new mate, or to call a mate over. All woodpeckers drum, but the drumming from (the larger) Pileated Woodpeckers echoed all around the Tenants Harbor marsh–stating their presence with authority!

As winter slides into early spring, an eye kept on woodpeckers can lead to observing some great interactions and behaviors. While it may be their vocalizations that draws your attention, woodpecker battling is mostly done with chases and visual displays. The “bill-wave” is a somewhat comical display were two woodpeckers face each other on a branch and shake their heads repeatedly back and forth with a “oh no you don’t” kind of attitude. This display is usually performed between members of the same gender as woodpecker territories are defended by gender—males deal with male challengers and females with female challengers. A few other classic, non-vocal woodpecker displays are the “crest raise,” where a woodpecker raises its crest in excitement, be it territorial or courtship. Or the “V-wing,” where a perched bird raises its wings high above its back, spreads its tail and finishes the action with a lunge or attack at its rival. Finally, the “Still-pose” is where two woodpeckers stop all movement and remain perfectly still for up to 20 minutes. No fooling. Motionlessness is an actual battle strategy for woodpeckers and an easily observable one at that.

With its large size and loud presence, the Pileated Woodpecker is the most recognizable woodpecker on the peninsula. The rectangular cavities that Pileateds have excavated low on trees along the Nature Trail and Town Forest Loops are recognizable as well.

Downy Woodpecker. Note the black bars on the tailfeathers.

Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, on the other hand, can be confusing to tell apart. There is a considerable size difference between the two species—Downies are 6.25 in., Hairies 9.25 in.—but size can be tricky to judge at times. Downy Woodpeckers usually have a much smaller bill when compared to Hairies, but there can be variation in Downy Woodpecker bill size and perspectives on size can be skewed. A clear view of a woodpecker’s white outer tail feathers, however, can be used to definitively identify a species. Downy woodpeckers have black barring, one to three black dots on their outer tail feathers. This can be especially helpful when the woodpecker is directly above you in a tree.

We look forward to seeing the migratory woodpeckers return and, of course, welcome the random, oddball Picidae that may turn up on the peninsula (there is always space for a Red-headed Woodpecker in my yard!). The Downy, the Hairy and the Pileated are special breeds, though. They are hardcores that live off the woods (and suet) all winter, have first dibs on the best cavity trees, and celebrate the warmth of a 20-degree day. Those are my kind of birds.
See you out there!
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PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

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The early days of St. George baseball

The Ripley Creek ball field

The first official documentation of the game of baseball dates back to the 1830s, although the mention of it can be found in the late 1700s. The first pro baseball team–the Cincinnati Red Stockings–was formed in 1869 and baseball soon became the national pastime. When the game first appeared in St. George is not known, but the local newspapers of the 1890s contain stories about games between the villages of Port Clyde, Tenants Harbor, Smalleyburg (now known as Smalleytown), and Elmore. Baseball was the main event at many of the Fourth of July and Labor Day festivities.

An 1890s photograph shows a baseball field in the area of Ripley Creek in Tenants Harbor. Across the creek can be seen the buildings along Main Street and the field up on the hill in the back is where the St. George School now sits. The date of this picture is probably in the mid-1890s.

In the October 5, 1894, issue of the “Traveler,” a Tenants Harbor newspaper of that era, there is a news item about a recent game between the Port Clyde and Smalleyburg teams. Smalleyburg beat Port Clyde with a score of 20-3, but the game was not without controversy. It was reported that the team from Port Clyde was made up of all Port Clyders, while the Smalleyburg team had a Boston pitcher and a Rockland catcher. “We would like to see the Smalleyburgs have their own team and try the Ports” opines the reporter, implying the Smalleyburgs brought in some ringers. The Smalleyburg team included Smalleys and Piersons, while the Port Clyde team had names such as Teel, Skinner, Hopkins, Dunbar, Wilson, Pierson, Thompson, Marshall and Tupper. The “Traveler” said the game was held “here”–meaning Tenants Harbor–and was probably played in the Ripley Creek field.

We have two photos of teams from the same era—one with StG uniforms and the other is of a Port Clyde Baseball team, taken around 1895. From the buildings in the background, it appears the StG team photo was taken at the Ripley Creek field.

This photo of a StG team appears to have been taken at the Ripley Creek field.

In 1924 the Port Clyde Athletic Association purchased property from Franklin Trussell, the land being what is known in Port Clyde village as the ball field and is located on Ballfield Road. Four years later a mortgage for $149 was given on the field–probably to make field improvements. This mortgage was foreclosed on in 1943 and a few years later the ball field property was later added back to the abutting property at the end of Ball Field Road.

A Port Clyde team, photographed around 1895.

Between the late 1890s to 1930 it appears that the Tenants Harbor ball games were played at the field down behind the Sail Loft. In 1931 Ernest Rawley, as trustee of the St. George Baseball Association, Inc., purchased another piece of land from the heirs of Dodge Hall. This is the location of the current field and tennis courts on Port Clyde Road. The old Hall residence was torn down, the field was built (along with the grandstand), and in 1948 the property was turned over to the Town. A series of photos taken from Barter Hill Road showing the progression of the development of the property in the early 1930s can be found at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.

The ball field behind the Sail Loft

The Knox County Twilight League was active from 1924 to 1964, and the St. George Torpedoes were prominent in this baseball league. The St. George Historical Society was given a scrapbook kept by Alice Wheeler in the 1930s with many newspaper clippings of the activities of the Twilight League, especially the Torpedoes. This scrapbook has been copied and can be seen at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum. It also appears that sometime in the early years, there was a baseball team in the Twilight League from the village of Clark Island. The team had a ball field out behind the Union Hall. —John M. Falla

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Pi Skylines and Pi-ku Poems

—Ella Wirkala, Grade 8

π   3.14159265359…

To celebrate Pi Day, we graphed the first several digits of pi, and turned our graphs into skylines and other artwork. We also wrote “pi” poems, with the number of words in each line corresponding to each digit in Pi. Students were encouraged to use the decimal point in their poems also (period, dot, spot, point, etc.).

What’s pi?
Pi is a magical number! It’s the number you get when you divide the circumference of any circle by its diameter—any circle in the entire world! We need pi to do any math that involves circles or curves—like calculating the orbit of a planet, the area of a circle or the frequency of sound waves.

Pi is an irrational number, which means the digits never end or repeat, but we only had time to graph the first few digits!

Octopi
Swishy, sticky slimy
Splishy-splashy
Changing colors all around
splash
This is a pi poem
I need to find some words that describe octopi.
Found some
Lots of tentacles coming at me
Slinking along the ocean floor
They’re sometimes orange, sometimes green
They’re underwater chameleons
Fishing for little tiny fishes
When they catch one, they slurp it down
But be careful, because they can get you too
Now it’s changing, swimming in the sea
I like pi and lots of little tiny octopi.
—Leilani Myers, Grade 7

Fishing
Right On The
Spot
It
Smashes The Bobber Down
Yank
The Line Tightens And Tightens
The Fish Is Strong It Pulls Tightening The Line
I Pull
When Then Fish Pulls I Pull
I Get It To Shore
It’s A Bass
A Super Good Largemouth Bass
I Got The Hook Then I Released It
It Swam Away I Got My Pole And Casted
After I Caught Three More I Left
—Chase Jansen, Grade 7

—Willow McConochie, Grade 8

The Pi Day project was a collaboration between St. George School grades 6-8 classes in math (Ms. Bartke) and English Language Arts (Ms. Schmanska).

 

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The challenges behind creating a compelling outdoor mural aimed at celebrating MCST’s presence in Rockland

Computer rendering of new MCST mural

In the fall of 2016, when mid-coast voters overwhelmingly approved a $25-million bond for a new 89,400 square-foot building for the Mid-Coast School of Technology (MCST), the school’s board of directors knew it wanted the new structure not only to be a state-of-the art facility for its career and technical education programs, but to also make a compelling visual statement about its mission. And the school’s executive director, Elizabeth Fisher, had just the person in mind to make that possible: St. George artist, Katharine Cartwright.

“Before the vote, my husband Dan Verrillo and I had been involved in discussing with executive director Fisher and others at MCST the possibility of setting up a scholarship fund because we really believe in the school’s mission,” Cartwright says. “I guess she looked me up on my website and saw my ‘Laws of Nature’ paintings, which are mostly mechanical, and really loved them.”

So Fisher asked Cartwright to serve as “Artist Consultant” on a project to create a mural for the exterior of the new building that would not only make the visual statement the MCST board hoped for, but would also involve students from the school’s graphic design program and MCST Design/Technology Instructor Brandon Soards, who would be responsible for the technology that would be involved.

“When they asked me to do this, of course I said ‘Yes!’ immediately, thinking, ‘Won’t this be fun?’” Cartwright says with a wry laugh. “I thought, too, creating a mural would also be a way of participating in the Rockland arts community. And I liked the idea of being somewhat behind the scenes, pushing the students forward.”

At first Cartwright’s hope was to use working groups of the design-oriented MCST students in designing the mural. “So I started working with the kids in 2017, batting around ideas about how to represent the 16 different programs offered at the school in the design,” she recounts. “But eventually I realized that it wouldn’t be possible to meld all the ideas into one, that we had to clearly focus on one idea.”

That idea, Cartwright determined, would be what had been the “heart and soul” of the school’s curriculum from the beginning and would continue being so into the future: marine technology, automobile technology, computer technology and carpentry.

“So I thought, okay, I have to make this work. I know what in my head I want it to be, but I also have to allow the students to have some control over the project so it’s not just me designing it, which was certainly not what the board wanted. So I identified a student, Matthew Shaw from Oceanside High School, who I felt from the beginning really understood the sort of design we needed and who could move somewhat in that direction without fully imitating me.”

Shaw worked on the project with Cartwright during the summer of 2018 until school started up again last September, when Cartwright asked him to assemble a group of students he wanted to work under him. Shaw was the lead designer, with Alexys Schaeffer from Camden Hills Regional High School the lead 3D modeler and Jette Keene from Medomak Valley High School the lead texture designer.

“It was wonderful working with Matthew,” Cartwright says. “Of course, when you are working with somebody what’s in their mind is going to be completely different from what’s in yours. So for a while it was like playing tennis. I would hit an idea his way and he would hit it back with a little change on it and I would hit back and we would go back and forth—it became a true collaboration.”

Cartwright says that the bulk of the time she and the MCST students worked on the mural’s design was taken up not so much with artistic issues as with associated technical challenges of one kind or another. Chief among these, she explains, was correcting for the inevitable distortions that arise when creating a work of art of a scale that dwarfs a human being.

“When a mural extends a distance above your head it affects how your eyes see it. So we had to deal with what we thought the distortions would be when it’s blown up to full size,” Cartwright says. “We were able to project the design on the building digitally and then look at it from many different angles. We hope we have it right.”

Paintings such as this one by Katharine Cartwright, “Fourier’s Law,” led MCST to invite her to be the Artist Consultant for the mural project.

Related to this was creating a design with elements that are interesting in themselves but that also harmonize with each other—something which was complicated by the fact the mural was to turn a 90-degree corner. “So we worked hard on having a variety of shapes and sizes and orientations, on how these forms relate to each other and on what path the eye will take as it looks across the mural,” Cartwright says. “So we had to establish what I call ‘flow paths’ for the eye: when you’re driving past it looks a certain way, if you’re walking into the building it looks a certain way, if you’re walking by on the sidewalk it looks a certain way. So we had to consider all those different viewpoints, which is hugely difficult to do. And then the way the building is oriented to the road and the distance from the road are also factors. I had to really, really nitpick on this because when you blow a design up to the size needed you see every flaw.”

That the mural was created digitally, Cartwright notes, not only meant that the designers could anticipate problems that might arise when the mural was at its full size, but also that they could get visual effects that they wouldn’t have been able to get if they were painting this on the building’s walls. Instead, the mural will be digitally printed onto a vinyl that will be adhered to large metal sheets that are 4-feet by 8-feet in size.

Cartwright looks forward to the moment when the mural will be installed on the new building, possibly this coming May or June. And while the 13 months or so she spent on the project were an intense experience, she is pleased to have been part of it.

“I loved it. I loved the challenge. And I really enjoyed mentoring the students and seeing them grow. So I think that between the mentoring and participating in the Rockland art community in this way—afterall, this will be the largest mural in a town that has declared itself the ‘Art Capital of Maine’—and also doing something to help elevate MCST’s presence in the community has been very important to me.”—JW

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