Flickr a Day 64: ‘Harvest Storm Clouds’

I debated long about whether this photo should be today’s selection. For starters, Richard Robles is no longer active on Flickr, which he joined in January 2006, and I could find little else about him—even confirmation that the gentlemen still lives. The image also isn’t the sharpest, taken with the Kodak EasyShare CX7525, which by today’s standards is a vintage digital compact. But the colors appeal, and bleak landscape is home: Aroostook County, Maine.

Aroostook, or “beautiful river”, but referred to as the “Crown of Maine” on maps and in tourism marketing, is a single, isolated county. Aroostook is so expansive—larger than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined—that many Mainers refer to it as “The County”. 

Spanning 6,829 square miles, Aroostook is the largest county east of the Mississippi River. (St. Louis County, Minn. is slightly larger by total area, 6,860 sq. miles, but less as measured by land; nearly 10 percent is water. Landmass is the official measure.) The County is mostly forest (89 percent) or farmland (10 percent). According to U.S. Census data, population for an area one-fifth of Maine’s landmass had less than 5 percent of the population in 2013 (70,055). For more flavor of Aroostook, see “The Bear Cub“, which I posted yesterday.

Self-titled “Harvest Storm Clouds”, taken somewhere near Fort Fairfield, captures the area’s essence: Calm, stark, and overcast landscape. As measured by The County’s lone weather station in my home town, Caribou, annual precipitation exceeds Seattle (39.45 inches vs 36.72 inches), despite the larger city’s reputation for rainfall. In Northern Maine, snowfall is the majority of precipitation—111 inches annually at home, placing it typically fifth or sixth for U.S. cities of all sizes depending on the year; current snow depth is 20 inches, as measured by the U.S. National Weather Service.

According to the Weather Channel Caribou also is the fifth coldest city in the United States. I highly recommend Jan. 24, 2015, Boston Globe profile: “In Caribou’s biting cold, you must have ‘zero’ tolerance“. I attended Hilltop School, referred to in the lede, but lived too close for the bus. I walked most of those double-digit minus days.

Today’s selection isn’t snowy, and the harvest name is misleading. Richard took the photo on April 27, 2004, or before planting season, according to the metadata. But the treeline could as easily be autumn as spring. Vitals: f/4.1, 1/180 sec, and 13.5mm. ISO wasn’t captured. The photographer isn’t a Maine native, but Californian. Good for him!

Photo Credit: Richard Robles