It snowed. And we have more color in living black and white.
- Lost Nation Roll Roller Ski Race
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Category Archives: Weather
It snowed. And we have more color in living black and white.
The St. John River is just about as far north as you can go in Maine, paralleling the Quebec border where the river begins in the ponds, streams and bogs of the North Woods. It runs 418 miles from the middle of nowhere, north and then east and south to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. The St. John is surrounded by land owned by paper and lumber companies. You pay their fees ($24 per day per person) to run it and you spend hours rattling over their dirt roads (made for logging trucks) to get there. But the Maine branch of The Nature Conservancy has bought 40 miles of shoreline, there are no dams on the northern reaches, and the river feels wild and remote like few, if any, others in the Lower 48. For mile after mile, tinged like tea from the tannic acid of the woods runoff, the river turns past shores lined with spruce, fir, pine, and poplars and birches in their lightest spring greens. It is narrow and shallow at the top but grows wider and deeper with every branch and brook that enters. It’s northern river and shore country, but for the East, it’s also big sky country: big expanses of weather stretching out over the trees and water. It has to be run during spring runoff because, barring storms, it’s too low in the summer.
Paddling down the river last week we saw moose every day, including a calf so small it must have been only a few days old, and a big moose splashing across the river in front of us, high-stepping from shore to shore. Unfortunately, it also rained every day, culminating in an all-night rain, followed by an all-day rain, headwinds, rising water and plunging temperatures. When we pulled off, a day early, record river heights for the date, snow and temperatures in the 30s followed. We were happy to head for the Northern Door Motel in Fort Kent (La Porte du Nord, as the sign says) and burgers at the Swamp Buck. I should have more pictures of the rain and foul weather and the big white- and brown-topped waves in the Big Black Rapid, but — except for the one of Lisa and Andrew and their border collies Rigby and Nitro, below — I kept the camera in its waterproof box when the weather turned bad and stayed bad. Need to get a waterproof housing. And I need to go to Maine more often.
A classic article on the river is John McPhee’s 1976 New Yorker story, “The Keel of Lake Dickey”, which describes a trip down the river and concerns that the proposed Dickey-Lincoln dam would flood much of it. The dam was never built.
I don’t do equipment reviews, and this certainly isn’t one. But I borrowed a Sony RX100 a while back. It’s an interesting little camera. David Pogue of The New York Times calls it, in his inimitable fashion, “… the best pocket camera ever made.” Camera geeks and reviewers can be a contentious bunch, but most seem to agree on one thing: Because most people have cellphones with semi-decent cameras built-in, sales in the basic point-and-shoot camera market are waning. So camera companies are concentrating on what’s called the “enthusiast” market. This means small cameras with a number of features point-and-shoots and cellphones don’t bother with: bigger sensors (which mean far better image detail); faster lenses, manual controls, RAW capability and more.
The Sony RX100, above, fits into that segment of the market and at least for now seems to be leading in the pocket camera slice of it. There are small cameras with bigger sensors, but they aren’t really pocket cameras. Basically, you can think of the RX100 as a Canon S100 with a much bigger sensor. The image below, which like the one above is from DPReview’s first look at the RX100, shows the relative sensor sizes of some cameras, and you can see where the Sony fits in.
One stumbling block for a lot of us: no optical or electronic viewfinder, just the rear LCD screen. I used the camera on a snowy, squally day a few weeks ago and thought it performed well. However, between the falling snow and the overall outdoor brightness, I could see almost nothing in the LCD when I was trying to compose pictures. I really just had to point, shoot and hope for the best. So, despite the 1.8 Zeiss zoom lens and a host of other great features, it’s not a camera for me. But it seems like every week new small cameras with large sensors come out. Nikon unveiled one last week and Fuji has a series of them using APS-C sensors, which are as large as those on most entry level DSLRs.
One thing: Enthusiast is really spelled “enthu$ia$t.” All of the cameras for this market are relatively expensive. The RX100 goes for about $650 and the Fujis start around $1,000. But the camera companies keep introducing new ones, so there’s always the possibility that this season’s models will eventually be cheaper, if there are any left when the newest small-camera/big-sensor model comes out. Sony’s small-camera line culminates with the RX1, a little camera with a full-format sensor, the same size as top-of-the-line professional DSLRs use. It costs about $2,800. But that’s another story.
Just another February day in East Montpelier, although it changed from a sunny, windy one whipping the snow off the barn below to the quiet, overcast scene above in about 30 minutes. Next up: Using a Sony RX100 in a snowstorm.
Spring arrives low in Vermont and then slowly climbs the mountains, so if you get even halfway up, it’s still like March, as it was yesterday at about 1,600 feet in the middle of Middlesex, above, where the Hunger Mountain and White Rocks section of the Worcester Range is still waiting to catch up with southern and lower parts of the state. Over the weekend, there were blossoms in Burlington and snow on Mount Mansfield, seen from Williston, below, but green is going to win, as it already has at lower elevations in Middlesex, bottom.
David Cram and his partner, Anna Coloutti, run the Stone Village Farmers’ Market just north of Chester on Route 103 in southern Vermont. They lost 18 acres of produce when the Williams River flooded from the rains of Tropical Storm Irene last August. Cram is one of 177 farmers who have received aid through the Vermont Community Foundation’s Farm Disaster Relief Fund. VCF has so far awarded $1,576,300 of the more than $2.41 million in total contributions received or pledged to aid Vermont’s farmers in the wake of Irene and has just finished accepting a new round of grant applications.