Home isn’t a place…

Good morning, Maine.

Home isn’t a place….it’s a feeling.

Was it the sound sound of the Black-capped Chickadee?

the scent of the balsam fir?

the sight of the paper birch trees?

or the kindness of new friends and old that made Maine feel

Just. Like. Home to me? ❤

I was raised in Northern New Jersey where the familiar sound of the Black-capped Chickadee consistently rang out in the trees.  We had a balsam fir pillow in our rec room and the scent chased you down and swirled into your head every single time you entered the space. My dad was from Michigan. He was no stranger to the Northern forests and planted a paper birch tree in our front yard. I clearly recall building my very first snowman with him in front of it.



I traveled to Maine earlier this month to serve as the keynote speaker for the Acadia Birding Festival.  And to say that I was ‘over the moon excited’ about this opportunity is an understatement.

Me, quite content after having a great look at the Horned Grebe pictured above in Seal Cove
Acadia Birding Festival Keynote Speakers, Luke Seitz, Pete Dunne, & me

My fellow keynotes were Pete Dunne (one of my childhood birding heros) and Luke Seitz (an amazing young birder/professional guide)





From the start to the end of the festival everyone involved felt like family. Becky Marvil and her entire team of volunteers and guides is nothing short of *amazing*!  I am indebted to Becky for tapping me for the festival and am truly honored to have played a part. She’s runs the event like clockwork and truly fosters a deep sense of place and community.  I had heard that all was the case.. and I now know ~first-hand~ that every last bit of it is true. Special thanks to friends, Bruce and Toni Evans who looked out for me and made sure I had all the pieces in place to make it such a successful Mom’s Big Year presentation and festival for me!

Festival Director, Becky Marvil, me and Toni Evans

I simply cannot WAIT until next year. I would pack the car now if I could!  If you haven’t already~ I encourage you to check out the festival website and wonderful movie about it on its home page here: Acadia Birding Festival 

I hope to see many of you there next year!

Those of you who have been following along know that I’ve been juggling working 3 days a week as a biologist at the North American Bird Banding Laboratory and 2 days a week teaching environmental science at University of Maryland. I simply love love love both jobs and wouldn’t trade either for the world.

Well, all that said, the semester snowballed this spring leaving little time for anything else and I have yet to blog about the exciting ending to Mom’s Big Year!  Now things are calming down with school ending and only working 3 days a week.. so I’ll be playing catch up on the blog. BIG TIME!  And I’m thrilled to have each of you following along.

Before going back to catch up..  I just couldn’t WAIT another day to blog about my trip up north to the festival!


Thanks to to all my fellow guides and festival participants for being such great team players and for making our excursions so much fun and educational for everyone!  Each time I led a trip with any combination of these festival guides, I felt like we had the A-team for sure!  These top-notch guides all worked hard to make the festival a super special experience for all!

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Me with amazing fellow guides and dear friends, Erin and Lena!

The festival’s annual pelagic trip is a highlight for participants and guides alike!

On my last morning, I was fortunate to squeeze in some additional time birding with these lovely ladies!


And special thanks to Billy Helprin, Director of Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary, for giving us a tour highlighting the impressive work happening throughout his preserve.  The Wildlife Sanctuary serves school groups, teachers and the general public ~ engaging them in a host of citizen science programs (including monitoring Common Loon nests and territories as well as Alewife migration at several locations.) FUN! I encourage you to check out all the things that Billy and the sanctuary’s summer employee, Alex Douwes are doing to protect, preserve and enhance the Somes-Meynell watershed.  Click the link below to learn more about what makes this sanctuary on Mount Desert Island such a special place… Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook page

Mountains. Evergreens. Rocky shores. Water.

It is beauty. tranquility. power…

To me, Maine has all the things I love.


And in a place where all these things meet…

In my mind, that’s simply magic.

As I sat gazing a trance-like gaze along the shoreline on my last evening there, my eyes dulled to a blur. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I felt big. I felt small… honored, humbled, filled, empty…… larger than life and smaller than a pea.. all at the same time. (This place reminds me so much of Alaska… but perhaps a non-steroidal version of Alaska, if you will.  😉 )IMG_0916

With all due respect to my friends and family down south… There’s no denying this girl is a Yankee through and through.

And the sights, sounds, and smells of Maine made me feel that I had finally come home. ❤

More soon, xoxo,  Nancy


6 thoughts on “Home isn’t a place…

  1. What a beautiful description of Maine! So glad to hear this update from you. And how wonderful to be a keynote speaker at the festival! Wishing you all the best — you’ve accomplished so much during your big year and beyond. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful blog, Nancy. ‘Tis a gift to understand the magic of Maine as you do. It was a joy and a pleasure to hear you speak and bird with you at the Acadia Birding Festival. Look forward to your return to the sights, sounds, and smells that feel like home.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your sentiment for Maine and your appreciation of the wonderful Acadia Birding Festival resonate in my heart and speak my mind. So lovely to meet you there – now onto a Maryland rendezvous!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your kind words about the work of the Somes Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary Nancy! It was a pleasure guiding and sharing this wonderful place with you. I think you are an awesome role model for women and girls in science and nature endeavors (men and boys too) – your enthusiasm is invigorating! Looking forward to your return for another Acadia Birding Festival, and possible family visit later this summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nancy, This blog of yours is so beautifully worded and accented with terrific photo memories. Way to go! I could feel your passion through your descriptions of your time spent in Maine. I foresee a retirement home for you there…

    Liked by 1 person

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