Groundhog Day in Maine

by the Rev. Mimsy Jones


With all due respect to Oscar Wilde who smugly opined, ‘conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,’ let’s talk about the weather we’ve been having lately:  Not just the insufferable heat and humidity in Memphis, but also the bizarre weather that has befallen the coast of Maine where I have been since late June.


When I arrived on June 23, the skies were bright, the sun was shining, the brisk breeze was cool. The next day, what sailors refer to as a ‘pea-soup fog’ descended like a soggy mantle over this part of the midcoast, and except for one or two beautiful clear cool days, we have had mist, drizzle, rain, and/or fog ever since.


Clearly, the climate change we have been warned about for decades is now a reality and there are plenty of measures we can take to stem the tide of abuse of our air, sea, and land. Up here this summer, I have decided to pay attention, to see the land and sea and sky around me as if for the first time.   To pay attention to something is to give it value, appreciate it, protect it.


This summer, by paying attention to what’s going on outside my window, I’ve learned that fog comes in various forms:

pea-soup thick or gossamer thin. I stand in the yard, quietly absorbing the stillness of ancient spruce trees. I’ve watched strong wind whip up white caps on Penobscot Bay, sending them crashing against the dark rocks and spraying water over the sea wall.


With my Merlin app at the ready, I’ve heard cries and songs of osprey, herring gulls, song sparrows, goldfinch, and wild geese. And thanks to all the rain and mist, flowers blossom and flourish: lupine, lady’s mantle, Queen Anne’s lace, roses. Every morning, and often every evening, I walk down to the large, freshly planted vegetable garden where my friend Michelle the gardener plants, mulches, weeds, and waters the fledgling plants, tending them like the good mother she is. Yesterday I spied a baby squash and a small green tomato and picked a few butter lettuce leaves for our dinner salad. Kale, carrots, tomatoes, peas, and squash will be ready to pick in the next few weeks.


Setting off for a walk last Thursday on the dirt and gravel ‘driveway’ that runs beside the shoreline, I noticed something off to my right that I had never seen before. Under a tangle of branches beside an old cedar tree, a groundhog was poised ramrod straight on its haunches, calmly staring at I know not what.


I stopped, thinking it would run away at any moment, but it did not. It remained still, silent, staring, and I did, too, until I slowly stepped away, savoring the gift I had been given: an outward and visible sign of paying full attention.


Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh lived his life paying attention.  In his book Being Peace, he offers us what he calls a short poem:

Breathing in, I calm my  body

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment

I know this is a wonderful moment.  (p15)



11 thoughts on “Groundhog Day in Maine”

  1. I remember scenes just like that from my three weeks in 1949 at the Audubon Camp of Maine on Hog Island.

  2. Good morning!
    I have not read your blog in a number of years, and wish I had as I thoroughly enjoyed your ground hog story. In truth I read it because of concern for family scattered all over New England, and how they weathered the horrific flooding. I presume Maine was not impacted greatly, and we are relieved his sister who lives there is safe and sound, as are his other siblings. I love nature…actually passion more describes it, and I have been ranting environmental warnings for years. Well..now maybe humans will wake up and do what is needed to save our beautiful planet. I keep hope. I am a photographer and painter…illustrated the Calvary Waffle Shop cookbook, and the Noyes Fludde Coloring book years ago! There are images from New England, the South and way beyond. See web address below. Anyway, I hope to remember to read your words more often. We left Memphis in 2009 due to the economy. My family has attended Calvary since the 1800’s. It is a beautiful church and congregation. I volunteered for years in the Waffle Shop kitchen alongside my Mother, Betty Archer. Such fun! I miss her. Husband Tim is an engineer and took a position in Louisiana. We then took a position as City Engineer in Brookhaven which is right next to Fulton County and Buckhead in 2016. He will retire in a very few years and we will land I know not where. I love and miss my Memphis. Thank you for your words. Ground Hogs are strange critters. 🙂

  3. Happy birthday ! Mimsy.
    Loved reading your blog and will make sure all at Immanuel, La Grange get to hear it. We are missing you and hope your weather clears up soon!
    Take care of yourself and enjoy each and every day!
    Nora and Wally

  4. So glad you are reading Thay, as his followers call him. Being Peace is a wonderful guide. I took vows with Thay some 12 years ago and have lived a Peaceful life since then. I wish all would be on a journey to find Peace. It is a Buddhist and Christian journey full of groundhogs and all living things. The Peace of the Lord to you my dear friend!

  5. I am constantly trying to be more aware of my surroundings, more ‘in the moment.’ It is not easy given all the modern-day distractions but it is SO worth the effort. Love the verse. Thanks.

  6. Ahh Mimsy, I am so envious of you being in the Pine Tree State. From a retired meteorologist I can some offer some explanation of your weather; you’re enduring a blocked weather pattern.
    So enjoyed your comments and thank you. Say hello to a “lobsta” and your woodchuck friend if you see him.

    Regards. Rick Shields

  7. What beautiful pictures you paint and describe with every sense, Mimsy! I will make every effort to pay attention to every detail of God’s creation that I encounter.

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