Can it get any more beautiful than this? I was over at West Point doing some shoveling in preparation for the arrival of our daughters for Christmas. It started to get dark on this cloudy day and when I looked west, I discovered some marvelous color. Believe it or not, one lobsterman had just returned to this cove. The water was calm and recent snow marked the rocks below the fir trees. They say Maine is the country of the pointed firs, and I agree.

Christmas has now come and gone. We were blessed in having mild weather that made family gatherings more comfortable. We had several walks.......on Christmas Eve, the skies were brilliantly blue and the water sparkled with sun. We found five Sanddollars on Head Beach, and a multitude of clam shells. This time of year, the gulls search for clams since the crabs remain well hidden. Speaking of clams, there was a lone clammer digging among the ice coated mudflats on Christmas Eve. Maybe he had to fill an order for Christmas dinner.....clams, anyone? Can you find the digger in this picture taken from the Kelp Shed parking lot? Now that is devotion.

We had just enough snow on one morning to do some serious tracking. There are deer tracks all over the place, leading to trees that still have apples hanging or diggable under the snow. It is hard to know how many deer there now are on the island, but the tracks are numerous. Here are some of those evidences of these animals skirting the edge of Iris Downs. The tracks converged and headed up the hill where I also found deer beds. Three of these were within a few feet of each other, but I've learned that deer do not snuggle to get warm!

There is some interesting news regarding animal activity in other parts of Phippsburg. Center Pond is almost frozen over, and people are beginning to venture out in ATV's. Prior to that activity, a friend of mine was driving by and spotted several otters climbing out of the water and on to the ice as they fished for food! These animals are not often seen, in fact I've only followed their tracks. They are playful animals, but quite sizable. Picture a furry animal, like an enlarged mink....four feet in length! I've also seen evidences of their presence in the wetlands on the hike to Sprague Pond. Sometimes they will make a hole in the ice and emerge to playfully roll around in the snow. I will be keeping an eye out for another sighting of these animals.

Some of you received this crab card, one of several designs I put together over the holidays. Anyway, this crab is here to wish you all a peaceful and loving holiday, filled with the fun of being outdoors in this beautiful part of the world. These are my friends, and I include you among them.

12/28/09 Ronnie, your friend in Maine.