It all started at the Ice and Smelt Festival…



It all started about a year ago at the Ice and Smelt Festival. For those of you who don’t  know, smelt are a kind of fish and smelt fishing is a cherished winter tradition in many Maine communities. Our town has been celebrating ice and smelting for a number of years now with a festival. For last year’s event, there’d been a “call” put out for any photos relating to smelting or winter in our small town.

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I sent a couple of photos in and on the day of the festival, Kurt and I wandered into town to check out the exhibit. I was anxious to see if my pictures were included. Would they be “favorites”?

Once we arrived, my eyes went straight to the display of photographs. I scanned them quickly. Yes! There was one of my photos…and there was the other one! Both were on display. (upper left in the photos below) They had even been enlarged.

“Oh, Kurt! They’re here!” I enthused, grinning from ear to ear. I was absolutely thrilled to see them on the wall with my name below them. Tickled pink as my  mom would have said.



We lingered, admiring the photos, examining the historical information and enjoying the exhibit. I may have peeked one or two more times at my photos. As I wandered, I noticed a few fabulous pictures. After a bit, I realized that most of them had been taken by the same photographer.

“Oh, I love this one!” I said to Kurt, motioning for him to check out a stunning picture of our local landmark bridge. “This BB takes wonderful pictures! I wonder who he is.”

After a while, a man came into the gallery and introduced himself. It turned out that he was BB, the photographer of those fabulous photos I’d been admiring and also the curator of the exhibit. When I introduced myself to him, he said something along the lines of, “Oh, you’re Molly Hogan. I really liked your pictures. You should think about having your photos in a show down here. I’ve been looking to make more use of the gallery space.”


We talked for a little longer and at the end of our conversation, he suggested I contact him via Facebook. Kurt and I left to meander over to check out the smelting shacks.

I walked out the door in a bit of a daze, excited and wondering. Did he really mean it? I then preceded to pester poor Kurt with questions for a while. A long while. It might have gotten a bit repetitive, but believe me, it was exponentially more so in my own head.

“Do you think he meant it?”

“Should I contact him on Facebook?”

“What do you think?”

“But do you think he really meant it?”

I went back and forth for a week or so. Maybe two. Contact him? Yes. No. Maybe. Back and forth. Forth and back.

But one of the joys of getting older is that it nudges me to push barriers. It may take a while, but ultimately, it does. I love taking pictures. I love sharing my photographs. If someone offered me an opportunity like this, why wouldn’t I contact them? What did I have to lose? Bottom line…if not now, when?

So, after a bit, I reached out via Facebook. I sent him a link to a recent blog post that shared my favorite photos of 2017.

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A few weeks later, I followed up. And, via a long circuitous route, it has actually worked out. I’m so excited (in between waves of anxious nausea) to share that on February 1st, an exhibit of my photographs will open at our local gallery. MOLLYCARD_WEB_SIZE.jpg

And it all started at the Ice and Smelt Festival…

First Day of Summer Vacation

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hOn Saturday morning, I woke early. Summer vacation had begun! It was about 4:30, my regular school-day rising time, and coming downstairs, I glanced outside. The sky glowed with streaks of pink and red.

Ooh. I thought, I could go down to the river and take some pictures.

Now, really, nothing stops me from doing this on a regular Saturday morning during the school year, but the idea of going down spontaneously felt like a bold step out of my routine–A declaration: Summer is here! Delighted with the idea, I quickly made my coffee, poured it into a travel mug, threw on a sweatshirt and headed out.


At the river, the colors weren’t as brilliant as I’d hoped, but it was still lovely and the air pulsed with birdsong. Tendrils of mist drifted across the water’s surface and periodically a fish jumped, sending rippled circles outward.

I walked over to the bridge to get a different vantage and took some more pictures, enjoying the cool, fresh air, and the feeling of unscheduled time stretching before me. After a few minutes, a car  pulled into the lot and moments later, an older man walked up, camera in hand. We nodded to each other.

“It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it?” I said.

“Oh, yes,” he agreed, smiling.


We chatted casually for about 20 minutes, stopping every so often to take pictures as the light changed. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly given the context of our meeting, that we had a lot to talk about. Each of us enjoys rising early and coming down to the water to take pictures, though our spouses think we’re slightly insane.  We compared favorite sightings and photos–muskrats and beaver, multiple bald eagles, a cormorant eating a catfish, a heron silhouetted in flight against a pink sky. We shared our favorite local spots for taking pictures. I told him about the Baltimore oriole that had been visiting me this spring, and he told me about watching a fox cross the iced-over river this past winter. He lamented that he hadn’t seen any kingfisher or herons this year. We shared anecdotes about our cats.

“My wife makes my photos up into photo books on Shutterfly,” he told me at one point. “I’ve got one in the car. It just came yesterday…but I wouldn’t want to bore you.”

“Oh, I’d love to see it!” I enthused sincerely.

After a few more moments of conversation and picture taking, we returned to the parking lot and he pulled the book from the backseat of his car, handing it to me. The cover photo was a stunning shot, an early  morning picture with a silhouette of a scull and several rowers. I opened the book and paged through, and he shared additional information and background stories about the photos. As I expected, natural scenes with birds and animals featured prominently. I admired the photos, asking for help identifying some of the birds that were unknown to me.

“Oh, what a great picture of a cedar waxwing!” I said pointing at one picture. “I haven’t seen one of those in years.”

As we talked I saw a movement in the river.

“Oh, look! It’s a beaver or a muskrat!” I said, pointing.

He turned and together we watched the animal swim across the river, then dive and disappear before we could identify it. A bird fluttered into a bush near us. We both turned again.

“I can’t believe it!” I exclaimed, “I think it’s a cedar waxwing!”

And it certainly was. It didn’t cooperate enough for either of us to capture a good photo, but we delighted in watching it dart in and out of nearby bushes.

“Ok,” I finally said, “I’m going to head home now.”

“Well, I’m going to head up to my favorite spot on the tracks,” he said.

I turned and then moved closer to the water to take yet another picture.

“It’s addictive, Molly!” he said, smiling and shaking his head.

“I know!” I replied. “There’s just always that possibility that something wonderful will happen.”

He nodded and smiled again, and I knew that he knew exactly what I meant.

What a wonderful way to start summer vacation.


I went back early this morning and captured this photo of a cedar waxwing.

Dandelion Extravaganza


“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” A.A. Milne

This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about dandelions (to see a previous post and my favorite dandelion picture ever, click here). Every year they delight me more, and this year, it seems like there’s been a bumper crop. I’ve been more fascinated than ever and I’ve taken picture after picture of them in all different stages, from all different angles. It’s addictive! I’ve also been having a lot of fun reading and writing dandelion inspired poetry.

This Valerie Worth poem is one of my perennial favorites. (Get it? lol)


Out of
Green space,
A sun:
Bright for
A day, burning
Away to
A husk, a
Cratered moon:

In a week
To dust:
The infinite
Lawn with
Its starry

~Valerie Worth

And here is a new favorite of mine, discovered this spring in my dandelion mania.

I Wandered Lonely as a … Dandelion?
by William Barton

A plague on your daffodils, Mr Wordsworth.
Granted, daffodils look very fine – harbinger of spring and such,
But they just stand about admiring themselves
or head-tossing and fluttering in a freezing gale,
and you can buy a pot in any corner shop.

The trouble with daffodils is that they turn up
at such a miserable time of the year – snow, ice, fog etc –
season of flu and fruity cold-full-ness.
As a countryman you should have written a poem about
“a crowd, a host of…dandelions”

(click here to read the remainder of this delightful poem)

And here are two of my recent efforts.

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Spangle a spring meadow
Sway in a breeze
Tap deep into soil
Nourish the bees

Gather your energy
Pucker up tight
Then burst into seed and
Launch into flight

©2018 M. Hogan

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Meadow Genie

Sun-lit dandelion
Shakes out her gossamer skirts
Poised to grant wishes

©2018 M. Hogan

If you’re not suffering from dandelion fatigue yet, here’s a time-lapse video of a dandelion moving through its life cycle. I could watch it again and again! (and have!)

Finally, here are some of my favorite dandelion photos.



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Kiesha Shepard is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup on her blog, Whispers from the Ridge. She’s sharing a beautiful summer poem and links to more poetic treats.

Giant’s Stairs




Some whimsical soul in the past saw a giant’s staircase in the slabs and boulders along this stretch of Maine coastline, and the name has stuck: Giant’s Stairs. Today, the water crashes against the upheaved rocks, flying into the air in wild abandon. Common eiders bob in the surf. When the males dive, you can see the glimmer of their white plumage flash below the surface. Again and again, my eye follows their ghostly descent until they vanish, only to pop up moments later nearby. Amidst the rocks, snails skim in shallow tidal  pools and a piece of kelp casts its shadow. Soft silvered rock glows in the afternoon sun. Flecks of mica sparkle and stripes of quartz erupt in brilliant, hard white fissures.


DSCN3114.jpgThis landscape tells a story of powerful forces at work, but speaks a language that is foreign to me. Almost like hieroglyphics. Each shape and bubble, each boulder and slab tells of force and movement, of time and wind and weather. I need my own Rosetta Stone to make sense of this world– Something that would explain the layers, the shapes, the cataclysm that shifted  horizontal shelves of rock until they were rotated and running in ridges perpendicular to their original orientation. Even without fully understanding, I’m captivated by the story.


Giant’s Stairs on a previous visit — You can see the descending slabs that inspired its name.