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I spy with my little eye

Observations from my bicycle …

— I've noticed an increasing presence of nip bottles along the roadways. Besides the litter factor, what concerns me — especially as a cyclist — is obviously the issue of safety. Let's hope everyone is careful, especially those knuckleheads who seem determined to drink and drive.

— Have you seen the real estate signs now proclaiming “Coming Soon?” It's like watching "coming attractions" at the movies.

— It drives me a little loopy when I encounter other cyclists and I wave, nod or say "hi" — but they remain stone-faced. I don't know about you, but all the roads and trails I ride on are certified as "friendly." Come on, loosen up!

— I really like it when motorists coming from behind you pass with loads of space, and then when they re-enter the right lane use their vehicle's blinker. That tell me they "get it" when it comes to the safety of cyclists. Thank you.

— This time of year finds me dodging plenty of woolly bear caterpillars, which are also called woolly worms or fuzzy worms. This creature has the reputation of being able to forecast the coming winter weather. Is this fact or folklore? The woolly bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. According to the legend, the wider the rusty brown sections — or the more brown segments there are — the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter. I'll have to slow down and take a look.

— A portion of almost all my rides is along the Kennebec River. Not even taking into account its history with Benedict Arnold, the Kennebec is one of Maine's three most majestic rivers — the other two being the Penobscot and Androscoggin — and I know that for myself, and probably countless others, I take it for granted. But that should not be the case.

A history lesson

— Staying on the topic of rivers ...

Biking on the backroads to Brunswick, I've come across this road sign, shown below, in Bowdoinham countless times but never paid much attention to it. Let alone being quite a mouthful to pronounce, I wondered about the origin of the word. A Google search of "Abbagaddassett" turned up nothing. But there is the nearby Abagadasset River, so I'm guessing the road sign relates to that body of water.

Can you pronounce this sign in Bowdoinham?

The Abagadasset, or Abbagaddassett if you so choose, is a 16-mile-long river in Richmond and Bowdoinham, flowing into Merrymeeting Bay, which is part of the estuary of the Kennebec River. Further resource revealed that early settlers arrived at the mouth of the Abagadasset and Cathance rivers around 1730, where the town of Bowdoinham was established. A land title dispute occurred between the Bowdoin family and Kennebec Proprietors until a survey was conducted, along with a quit claim deed from Chief Abagadasset. The Bowdoins won the suit in 1763. Elihu Getchell built the first sawmill in 1760, using the water power of the river. Abagadasset is an Abnaki word meaning "stream opening out from between mountains" or "following a shore curved."

That completes today's history lesson. Class dismissed. Now let's go for a bike ride!

(Editor's note: Here's a link to last week's blog entry in case you missed it —

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