When we lived in Maine we had our share of backyard visitors. From rabbits to bears there was always an interesting species to gaze at through the windows. However, since they were wild animals we never interacted with them, and we instructed the kids to give these animals plenty of space.
Since arriving in Merida, Mexico we have encountered a new type of backyard visitor: the alley cat. Little did we know when renting our house that it came with a backyard full of alley cats. The landlords left us instructions to feed the cats as they help keep away rodents and other pests. At first we weren’t sure that this was such a good idea. It definitely goes against our “leave wild animals to themselves” motto. However, we quickly discovered that many of these cats are more akin to pets then wild animals, and a few are used to being fed several times daily by the inhabitants of the house.
So, we began a daily ritual of feeding and getting to know the cats. Most of them stay up on the roof and only come down when food is put out. It is actually kind of creepy to know that they are watching you from above all day. Usually they are very skittish and shy, but the group has no problem flocking into the yard when they hear the cat food being poured.
In our first few days here we noticed one little fellow (we call him Young Tiger) who was the runt of the group. He was often picked on by some of the older, street hardened alley cats and pushed away from the food. Our family took a liking to him and we began to give him special treatment. After that he started to spend all of his time in our yard and put up with High Five’s loud, erratic attempts at becoming friends 🙂 With the kids’ protection and constant care he has gained weight and is starting to hold his own against the other cats.
Feeding alley cats is an odd situation to find ourselves in, and we probably wouldn’t be doing it if the landlords hadn’t made the request (and provided the initial food). It feels weird to take care of an animal knowing that we will be leaving in a short while. However, the kids have dearly loved getting acquainted with their favorite, Young Tiger, and hopefully the landlords will step back in and continue with his feedings when we leave.
What is your policy on feeding alley cats? Have you ever lived in an area with stray cats?
Yesterday was a bittersweet day full of goodbyes and chocolate pie. We took our final walk through the neighborhood and down to the beach. While the day was chilly Five of Hearts and Five Ball couldn’t resist riding the Saco surf one last time.
High Five spent his time scaling the rock breakwall that he recently mastered all by himself. It was hard to leave the beach knowing that we wouldn’t be returning anytime soon. However, luckily we had a vegan raspberry chocolate cream pie waiting for us at home.
Over pie we shared fond memories of our time in Camp Ellis, Maine and talked about what we would miss most. The boys both agreed that they would dearly miss living so close to the beach. Dad is really going to miss the McArthur public library in Biddeford and mom is going to miss the super warm sun porch at the rental house. Five of Hearts loved all that the area offered especially the YMCA pool and the indoor soccer and bouce zone at XL Sports Zone. As the last crumbs of pie were gobbled up we all agreed that we had a great time living in Camp Ellis but that it is time to hit the road and move on to new adventures.
Every day for the past few weeks has started the same for us; over breakfast, High Five has asked us if we were going to ride a train today. We were all pleased to answer him with a big “Yes!” this morning as we set out to ride the rails at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. We loved the hands-on feel of the museum, and soon we were in costume conducting trains, punching tickets, and perfecting our Morse Code. Of course, the real highlight came when we boarded the train to take a short ride along the Portland waterfront. While most of us on the train winced and covered our ears every time the steam whistle bellowed, High Five just laughed and clapped for more.
After the ride ended, we took a short walk along the Eastern Promenade pedestrian/bike trail to check out the Maine Comic Arts Festival at the Maine State Pier. Although it was quite crowded, we slowly made away around to the different vendors to check out the latest in comics, artwork, and graphic novels. This also gave us an opportunity to meet the authors and artists themselves. We spent a lot of time admiring the work of Joe Quinones, an artist for Marvel Comics who displayed some awesome prints of Star Wars characters. As tempted as we were to buy our favorite prints we stayed strong knowing that the Mazda5 is very short on space. However, we did buy a few educational zines from artist Gynn Stella of Dandelion Studios, who we had the pleasure to meet on the train ride just an hour before.
There is so much we will miss about Maine as we head out later this week for our summer in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It is comforting to know, however, that as we eventually make our way out West to continue our pattern of short-term rentals and full-time travel, we will have a head start on getting to know the locals.
Note: Five Spice and Five String celebrated their anniversary yesterday by renting a golf cart and exploring Long Island (Maine), just off the coast from Portland. Five Ball and Five of Hearts share below their thoughts about the day.
Riding on the back of the golf cart was really fun. It was a new experience and we’re really glad that we tried it.
High Five was pretty crazy and funny driving the car. He loves to drive cars and did really well on the golf cart if he could pretend to drive while we were at the different places.
We were playing “Throw the Hermit Crabs Back into the Ocean”. It was a lot of fun when Mom chased us around and we chased her. It was a great way to play on the beach. We had seen hermit crabs on another day on the beach with our grandmother.
It was a lot of fun climbing the rocks. There were some really flat rocks and lots of seaweed. I have always loved climbing rocks and caving.
Mom and Dad were excited for their anniversary and to rent a golf cart out on an island. Dad insisted that I take this picture on the rock for their anniversary picture.
Mom had looked up at the sky and saw clouds called mares’ tails. The next time I looked up the clouds were very puffy. But then they changed quickly and it was really cloudy.
The boys were asleep on Mom. I needed something to do, so Dad decided we would go off and explore. He Turkey Trotted me across the beach. On the way back we saw a path into the sand dunes and followed it. He finally found a tree and put me up in the tree. When we came back we told Mom all about it and showed her the picture.
Our Mom found this pretty red house on the next island over (Cliff Island).
We were looking out over the ocean.
My dad was excited for this license plate because on the last island we went to (Peaks Island) we had found the last license plate we needed for our license plate bingo (Montana). This plate is a bonus one not found on our bingo board. We couldn’t believe we found it on another island!
Before we had to return our golf cart, we decided to explore a conversation trail we had passed earlier. Mom had scouted ahead, and discovered a pond. We did not expect to find so much nature off of this one trail.
We tried to feed this frog sticks and grass, and he liked it. We thought it might eat grass, but according to Mom they like flies. It still is a mystery to us whether they would eat the grass or would like flies instead.
We saw how the beavers chewed wood with their teeth and made it into a home.
Camping has been on our mind all winter, and we were thrilled to finally bring out the tent for some spring camping this past week. Only a handful of campgrounds in Maine are open in early May, but we found a great one that opened May 1st on the Pemaquid Peninsula. We pulled into Duck Puddle Campground in Nobleboro around noon on Wednesday and had our pick of sites.
We couldn’t pass on a site right on the edge of Pemaquid Pond with its own dock, and after unpacking we soon took to the water. Five of Hearts and Five Ball were a bit under the weather, but they found the energy to splash and play for quite a while before crashing.
After some quality rest and relaxation, we dragged the reluctant kids into town for groceries and then to the Damariscotta Fish Ladder to try to spot the annual migration of alewives upstream to spawn. We were in luck and spotted hundreds of fish making their way up the fish ladder that was constructed after the Damariscotta River was dammed for a hydroelectric project.
The rest of our time was mostly spent exploring the campground (the playground especially) and relaxing. Five Spice spotted a caddisfly case around our dock, which we had read about but never actually seen before. These cases that the caddisfly larva make are pretty amazing. The larva use silk to bind together pebbles, twigs, and bits of plants to make a protective case which is open at both ends to allow water to flow through and pass over the larva’s gills. When ready to change into an adult, it seals off the ends of the case, and after the transformation is complete it cuts through and flies away.
We ended our time on the Pemaquid Peninsula with trip down to Pemaquid Point. The winds were howling, and only High Five braved the elements to explore the rocky shore below the famous lighthouse. The gusts proved to be too strong though, and for every step forward he was blown back two. After a few pictures we were thoroughly chilled and soon retreated to the car, glad to head back to the campsite for our final campfire. That evening as we fell asleep to the sound of geese, loons, and barred owls, we were already making plans for our next spring camping excursion.