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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Wrapper's Delight

Posted by | December 6, 2017 | Filed under: Opinion

“How’d you do it?” asked the elfin young nurse as she wrapped my son’s foot in bandages and plaster. “Jumped off an eight-foot boulder wall at the rock gym,” he mumbled. The decorative green and blue cocoon grew around his foot, quickly resembling one of those fabled stockings “hung by the chimney with care.” With a Tiny Tim on crutches around our house, it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

At the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, we’re peacefully wrapping things up for the holidays. Wreaths are up, picnic tables are in, the staff are once again huddled around their solar-powered space heaters. Only a few sculptures remain from the exhibition that anchored our well-received “Summer of Art & Science.” Sculptor Pam Moulton, whose 12-foot tower of 25,000 dog whelk shells marine epoxied together has stood at the entrance to our Barrier Beach Trail since May, was on site last week to wrap her artwork up in cellophane against the harsh winds of winter. It will be a curious landmark to the cross-country skiers and snowshoers on the Laudholm Farm campus this season. Perhaps it will emerge in April as a colossal, crackling butterfly?

This week, we’ve got one last project to complete ‘ere we sleep. Fifty volunteers, happy little elves all, are descending on the Wells Reserve to wrap 300 handmade window inserts for more than 30 homes in York County. These inserts, expertly measured and assembled, keep the heat and money in and the cold drafts out. As a champion for renewable energy and energy efficiency, the Wells Reserve is glad to serve as a host site for a WindowDressers community build this December. The Yankee ingenuity, teamwork, and generosity on display at these barn-raiser type builds are welcome local antidotes to the poison in our politics and national conversation. (Sign up to volunteer for the Wells build here!)

Yes, there is a weariness with Washington in the air, and I suppose my holiday season doesn’t taste right without a little splash of Grinch. I’m trying to channel my personal frustration with the direction of our country into useful activity. That’s why I’m spending my evenings swatting invasive winter moths off my windows and stomping them to death. They mate this time of year and I’m delighted to extinguish their ardor. It’s not them; it’s their children. Cocooning through the winter, winter moth caterpillars emerge as voracious oak leaf-eating caterpillars in the spring. They’re decimating the local forests and I have no qualms about defending the trees in my yard from these guests “from away.” It’s an uphill fight against them, but I’m getting used to uphill fights.

Which just means that rest and relaxation are only more welcome. We cocoon up in our warm homes for these darkest months. We wrap ourselves in blankets, in food, and in family for the holidays. A new year lands on our doorsteps in less than four weeks. More than any other Christmas present, I’m looking forward to unwrapping it.

Nik Charov is president of Laudholm Trust, the nonprofit partner of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine. His monthly column, “Between Two Worlds,” ventures forth from the intersection of art and science, past and present, Santa and Grinch. More at

The above was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune's Sunday edition, 12/10/2017, and The Beacon's 12/13/2017 issue.

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