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I spotted the season’s first iridescent blue and gold crocus poking through a patch of snow on my walk to clinic yesterday. Today, there are 6, in a small clump, and the flowers bend towards the sun. In a few days, a week at most, the petals will wilt and drop and, if the warming trend holds, other spring flowers will pick up the beat: daffodils, coltsfoot, blue violet, wild geranium. Once the forest floor thaws, carpets of mayflower and wood anemone and bunchberry will emerge, seemingly overnight.

But my favorite, the most difficult to spy before the ethereal one-half-inch white flowers disappear, is goldthread, a ground-hugging resident of the island’s spruce understory. And it’s not the flower alone which delights me; just beneath the surface is a thread-like, orange rhizome, the source of a bitter herbal remedy for cold sores and intestinal parasites. Though Peaks has been settled and farmed for hundreds of years, now that the interior meadows have been reclaimed by forest, goldthread is back. …


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Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

It is New Year’s Eve on Peaks Island. A slushy mixture of ice and seawater churn and grind against the beach. A pale yellow half-moon throws a faint shadow over the schoolyard. Sandi and I lean into the wind as we inch our way uphill, barely at eye-level with plowed snow.

A dug path leads to a modest shed-roofed cottage. Opening the door, Arnold Berndt, bent-backed and mostly deaf extends a hand and welcomes us inside. “It’s not much,” he says loud enough for him to hear himself, “but it keeps the rain out!” Arnold’s son, Peter — who undoubtedly shoveled the pathway — takes our coats and offers us a glass of wine. …


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I flipped off the headlights of my truck on Widgery Wharf in Portland and clicked my neck, first to the right, then more forcibly to the left. Another missed ferry. A half-eaten chicken salad sandwich and an unopened Snicker’s bar lay within arm’s reach on the passenger seat. A stethoscope and 6 patient charts from my afternoon clinic on Chebeague Island protruded from my backpack. I looked at my watch. The next ferry won’t leave for another hour and a half.

Then I spied two policemen heading towards the police boat for the shift change on Peaks Island. …

About

Chuck Radis

Author of the upcoming book “Go By Boat”, which aims to inspire and educate. Join Dr. Chuck inquisitive perspective and learn how medicine can be much better.

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