Monday, April 26, 2010

Foraging for Fiddleheads

A true harbinger of spring in Maine is the appearance of fiddlehead ferns in the market. They are only available for a few weeks because they are the new unfurled shoots of the Ostrich Fern. Called "fiddlehead" because they resemble the curled decorative head on a violin, when they are allowed to open into the "Ostrich Fern" they resemble the plume of an ostrich.

Mainers often closely guard their known patches of ferns which are found in moist areas near streams and ponds, but one can forage in the forest to find them for yourself.

Cooking guides insist they must be boiled twice with a change of water or steamed to leach out astringent tannins and bitterness, but experience shows that cooking just until tender yields a succulent, tasty vegetable side dish.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Arline Window Seat


I always book an isle seat on overseas flights for comfort and ability to get up without disturbing the neighbors. On shorter U.S. flights (or the U.S. leg of a long-haul) I love the window seat to watch the country flow by like the discovery channel. If you like the window seat, here are a few suggestions from an airline pilot for several destinations.

In general the left side of an aircraft is almost always an “A” seat; the right side varies by aircraft type. Check to be sure. Usually when booking a flight and choosing seats you are presented with a layout of the seating for that aircraft and can easily tell which seats are the left window seats.

LGA (La Guardia) A gamble: heading north up the Hudson, the most jaw-dropping views of Manhattan can be on the right; more often the less-dramatic views of Manhattan are on the left.

LIS (Lisbon) The city center and bridge usually appear on the right.

LHR (London Heathrow) The right side offers the best views.

LAX (Los Angeles) The city’s breathtaking scale is apparent in any direction. Downtown and Hollywood are usually on the right.

LIN/MXP (Milan) If you’re coming from the northwest, best views at both airports are on the left.

SFO (San Francisco) From Asia, Europe or the north, the Golden Gate and the city usually appear on the left. Arrivals from the east and south aren’t always as lucky, but try the right.

Flying coast to coast, I also consider which side the sun will be on and choose the other side, the north side will not have direct sun in your face. If night falls while in flight you might try to estimate which side of the aircraft the major cities will be. Las Vegas is probably the most recognizable at night.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Record Smashing Weather in Maine

I love weather. Apparently I've come to the right place. This week ended the month with record breaking rainfall and here is the Presumpscot River picture to prove it. Even though you don't know what this river normally looks like, let me assure you this is a lot of water for this crick.

The mill building in the picture was built in 1867 and has recently been converted to shops and condos.

The month has ended with over eleven inches of rain and we weren't even the hardest hit state. Rhode Island had more.

One storm this month was particularly windy and trees were just snapped apart like mere twigs. Massive power outages existed for thousands and the university was even shut down for a day. I still worked, because the electrically operated door to our office wouldn't lock. Somebody needed to look after protecting our domain.