Seasons of New England Part 1

seasons-of-New-England

How does that song go…”Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  Those days of soda and pretzels and beer…”  A catchy little song that Nat King Cole sang beautifully so many years ago.

Summer...it took awhile but it’s finally here with beautiful long days of sunshine and soon the dreaded humidity.

New England has so many activities to offer residents and visitors of all ages, especially during the summer months.  We have State Parks, public beaches, state forests, mountains to climb, trails to hike and bike, science museums, historic sites, aquariums, art museums and galleries, antiquing, canoeing/kayaking on New England’s many rivers and lakes, whale watching and bird watching…just to name a few. And I can’t forget our beautiful golf courses and the challenges many of them offer.

Memories…

I’ve played golf on a number of courses in New England but more important…I’ve had the pleasure of walking around some of the most beautiful courses in the country following our daughter as she competed in tournaments.  Yea…she’s that good. With a handicap of 3, she’s a contender. Scrapbooks bursting at the seams filled with newspaper articles and bookcases filled with awards and trophies reflect her skill.    

More New England Summer events:

  • Enjoy a hot air balloon festival. If you’re in the area of  Wakefield RI, Lewiston ME, Stowe VT or Queche VT, you’ll get to see dozens of beautifully colored hot air balloons and maybe even take a ride!
  • Take in a sugar house tour and purchase some tasty maple syrup, maple cream and chocolate covered maple sugar acorns to take home. If you want a delicious recipe for Maple French Toast click here to read my blog “Seasons of New England, Part 4
    and get the recipe.
  • Do you like a good Polo match…or are just curious? Pack a picnic and head to Portsmouth RI.
  • If you’re into Jazz Festivals, there a few to choose from, like Goshen CT, Newport RI and Provincetown (on the tip of Cape Cod). And may I suggest the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
  • If in Vermont, take in the Burlington Jazz Festival June 1st thru 10th.
  • Or…if Bluegrass is more your style, how about the Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival held in Thornton NH. If you’re in Vermont, you could go to the Basin Bluegrass Festival in Brandon or another Bluegrass festival in Tunbridge June 21st thru the 24th.
  • And if country music is your fav… you’ll be happy to know, for the first time ever, a 3 day Country Music Festival will be held at the NH Motor Speedway in Loudon NH next summer. Start making your travel plans now ‘cuz this is will be a huge event.

Memories…

Before being converted to a NASCAR oval race track and re-named NH Motor Speedway, it was simply known as Bryar Motorsports where car clubs like Sports Car Club of America, Corvettes of MA and Porsche Club of America held races. Bryar, originally built for motorcycle racing, was 1 3/4 miles with 10 turns. Built with motorcycles in mind, my 1965 911 Porsche did quite well and I competed in dozens of races, winning or placing in the top 3 more times than not. I was also a race instructor with the Porsche Club, not only at Bryar, but Limerock CT and Watkins Glen NY. This was all quite fun but not as much fun as driving. 

  • New Englanders love festivals and there are plenty to enjoy. We have music and art festivals, craft brewers festivals, arts & craft festivals, strawberry and blueberry festivals, a rhubarb festival and even the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft ME on June 23rd.  Yes…an entire festival devoted to the whoopie pie. Gotta tell my daughter about this one, for sure. 
  • While in Maine, take a drive to Booth Bay harbor during June 24th thru the 30th where you can see the grand merchant sailing ships, Navy vessels, concerts and fireworks.
  • Can’t forget flower shows: the Newport RI Flower Show is huge and you can tour a Newport Mansion while there. Or if you are on the Cape, check out the Hydrangea Festival in early July.
  • Have you ever been to a film festival?  There are several to choose from depending on where you want to travel. Here are just a few suggestions:
  • If you are in RI, specifically Providence and Newport, please check out the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
  • There’s the Fine Arts Festival in Westport, CT  featuring over 150 artists and artisans.
  • What is Vermont noted for? Cheese, of course…and if you’re driving through the state, check out the annual VT Cheese Makers Festival in Shelbourne. Sounds cheesey but Vermont has the highest number of cheese makers per capita in the US. It’s totally a foodie event but if in the area, you really should attend and taste all that Vermont has to offer.
  • Attention seafood lovers…I’ve got you covered! Take in the Yarmouth ME Clam Festival July 20-22. Now you’re talking my language! Think about it…over 6,000 lbs of clams and 6,000 lobster rolls, music, clam shucking contests, a parade, street dancing, fireworks and a bike race.  OK…back to the 6,000 lbs of clams and 6,000 lobster rolls…I’ll see you there!
  • How about this for an idea…the annual Maine Lobster Festival at Rockland Harbor Park on August 1st thru 5th. Five days of fun lobster feasting! 25,000 lbs of freshly caught lobster by local fishermen. After filling your belly with hot, succulent lobster you can tour Navy ships if you’re up to it.

Make Something Amazing Today…like the perfect Lobster Roll

Use 1 lb fresh steamed lobster… the tail, knuckle and claw meat and cut into large chunks. If the claws are small, leave them whole. Take one stick of softened salted butter and butter both sides of 4 split hot dog rolls. Toast the rolls in a skillet until golden on each side. Melt the remaining butter and let the lobster meat warm in the melted butter. Smear a little mayonnaise on the rolls and load them up with lobster. Drizzle a bit more melted butter over the top of each lobster roll if desired.

Let’s get back to our summer events…

  • Check out the Sailfest in New London CT. There will be rides, fireworks, artisans, vendors and music entertainment as you take in the beauty of the magnificent tall ships.
  • Love antiquing? Take a drive to Brimfield MA for the largest outdoor antique show in the Northeast. Or, if you’re in Maine, you’ve got the Maine Antiques Festival in Union.
  • To help celebrate our Independence Day, plan to visit Boston MA and enjoy the Boston Pops Orchestra as they play on the banks of the Charles River. You’ll enjoy amazing fireworks and my favorite…when the orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” where real cannons are featured and you can hear church bells off in the distance.  Been there, done that…a totally memorable evening under the stars.
  • Take a  hike… seriously or climb a mountain.

Did you know…now that the weather is nice, you may come in contact with a skunk while outSkunk on a hike on your hike.

While skunks are mostly nocturnal, they can also be encountered during daylight…I can attest to that. Years ago, as I walked into my garage I saw what I thought was one of my furry after-ski boots. Wondering how it got there, I went to pick it up when it suddenly moved and scurried away.

How do you get rid of the stink?

If you or your dog are unlucky enough to get sprayed by a skunk, it’s not an easy task to get rid of the stink. The substance is acidic and oily; it burns, it’s pungent and it lasts.

Try this remedy: 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1 quarter of a cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap like Dawn. Wash with this mixture or wash it into your dog’s fur and let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it out. 

Food for Thought

Have some freshly caught seafood. Click here to read my blog “What is the Best Fresh Seafood?” where I discuss lobster…where to get the best and how to prepare it. While you can get lobster just about anywhere in New England, Maine has the reputation of having the best tasting fresh caught lobster in the country.

Did you know… over 5,300,000 lobsters are eaten every year in Bar Harbor alone. Yumm!

Memories…

I remember, as a child, visiting friends of my folks at their summer home in Bar Harbor.  I didn’t particularly enjoy their “beach” of rocks but was fascinated by all the jelly fish and remember trying to scoop them up to the surface for a closer look with one of the rowboats’ oars. This was the summer I caught mussels for the first time…and Mom prepared them for a mouth watering dinner that evening.

So, take a drive up the coast of Maine and fall in love with the lighthouses, beautiful scenery and rocky shore.  As you drive through Wells, on Rt 1, stop in at the Maine Diner and order the Lobster Pie…it is to die for. It’s generously loaded with huge chunks of buttery lobster caught that morning. Make sure you tell owner, Dick Henry, Mike and I say “hello”.  But don’t let the name “diner” fool you…this restaurant is famous for it’s seafood and has been featured on TV shows as well as the Food Network’s hit “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. Check out their menu at www.mainediner.com and maybe even have their famous Lobster Pie shipped to you to enjoy a piece of Maine this weekend.

Memories…

I remember one summer going white water rafting on the Penobscot River in Maine. It was a long day starting quite early with training, learning how to paddle on the raft (and to never stop paddling) to learning what to do should we fall out.  Then we got geared up, fitted with helmets and assigned a raft…mine was named “Pure Screaming Hell” for good reason.  It was an awesome 14 miles of spectacular scenery, class 4 and 5+ rapids and steep 5 and 7 foot drops.  To call it thrilling would be an understatement. Would I do it again? Hell, no…been there, done that…but I highly recommend it for the fantastic experience it is.

If you love whales…

and who doesn’t. Take a drive to Newburyport, MA and go whale watching. This makes for a fabulous day trip and at the end of your cruise, stop in at Michael’s Harborside for a delicious and mouth watering seafood dinner…so fresh it almost swims onto your plate.

Dine on the deck and watch the boats being put to bed for the night and the seagulls waiting patiently for scraps to be tossed their way.  Even though they ask you not to…you can’t help it.

And save some bread to feed the small striped Bass referred to by my husband and his old friends as “schoolies”.

Another childhood memory…

Even though my summers growing up were spent at our lake house on Lake George in upstate New York, there was always something so special and unique about visiting my grandparents at their place on Cape Cod and eating the best fried clams I’ve ever had.

I love the smell of the salty air on the Cape and remember catching Fiddler crabs on the beach in front of my grandparents home as the tide went out wanting to bring a few home with me… and one summer I did.

I remember my grandfather loading all of us into the boat to head out to the sandbar for an afternoon of exploring, swimming and building sand castles.  I loved collecting shells and could always  spot a seagull nest or two nestled in the sand and tall grasses.

May I suggest… 

Table 38’s  summer favorite: Antioxidant Berry Spritzer

In a tall glass, mix 1 1/3 cups club soda with 1 teaspoon sugar, or Truvia, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a handful of fresh berries. To kick it up add a splash of vodka or gin, toss in a few ice cubes and sit outside in the fresh air to enjoy your gardens and the wildlife that summer brings.

A Few New England Feathered Favorites of Summer

Here’s an idea… Go on a bird watching day trip or simply enjoy these winged beauties in your own yard.  Some birds live in New England year round and their feathers just change color from summer to winter but the arrival and departure of other birds indicates the end of one season and the beginning of the next.  A few of the varieties we enjoy here include:cardinal

Cardinals… one of my favorites, especially males in the winter with their striking red color.  But, the male cardinal (pictured to the right) isn’t the only red bird in these parts…the Scarlet Tanager has a solid red body and black wings.

A common visitor to our feeder is the Bluejay.  They like to hog the feeder but also enjoy acorns…who knew? I can’t forget the harbinger of Spring…the Robin.

Another favorite of mine are little Chickadees. They are a tiny bird and look like they are wearing a black cap on their big round head.  Chickadees are brave little birds and I can get within inches of them as I attempt to fill the feeder.tufted-titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse…his name can be remembered because this little guy (pictured to the right) has a pointed crest of feathers on his head.

Another all time favorite is the Hummingbird.  I love these tiny little birds and enjoy watching them dart from flower to flower collecting nectar with long narrow beaks and then zoom away to another colorful flower…their wings never stopping.  If you have flowering nectar plants such as day lilies, Bee Balm, milkweed (which comes in over 30 varieties), violets, Salvia and Butterfly Bush, you’ll have Hummingbirds visiting your garden every day. They love bright colors like red, pink, yellow, orange and purple.  Just last week I saw a baby Hummingbird and at first wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I never saw a baby one before.

New England is home to the White-breasted Nuthatch… blue-gray, white face and streaks of black on their wings. These guys like to eat bugs found in tree bark. We’re home to the Red-headed Woodpecker, which is goldfincheslouder than you may think.  The American Goldfinch male (pictured to the right) is bright yellow, wears a black cap and his wings are dipped in black. The females are also yellow but muted in color. Some days we’ll see several and other days, none at all.  And Bluebirds who like to nest in old woodpecker tree holes.

Next up is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak who migrates to Central America for the winter.  In the evening, occasionally we can hear the Owls that live in our forest. It sounds like they are calling back and forth as if to spur creature movement on the ground. Silently they fly hunting for mice, voles and other small rodents.

If you visit Cape Cod or Plumb Island, you’ll see Piping Clover.  This little guy has a short body and long legs which help him walk on the beach where they nest and often conservationists fence off nesting areas to protect them from humans and predators.

The Red Tailed Hawk  is a beautiful thing to watch as it glides through the air with its fringed looking wings. It’s hard to miss him overhead because of his size.

The Bald Eagle… after decades of having no Bald Eagles due to pesticides, they’re coming back.  It’s a real treat to spot this regal bird.

I must include the Blue Heron because we have one that occasionally visits the pond across the road for fish and frog dinners.  They will stand ever-so-still on their long thin legs in the water waiting for dinner to approach and then using their long sharp bill…catch their meal. Our Irish Terrier, Hogan, almost caught one by one of his wings as he took flight from the edge of the pond one summer day.

Did you know… this calm, quiet, majestic bird has a wingspan that can reach 5 to 6 feet. The Blue Heron mates for life and often returns to the same nest each year to raise a family.

Boston…the Hub of New England, Especially during Summer

  • Take in a Red Sox game at the famous Fenway Park
  • Walk the Freedom Trail and visit the Boston Public Garden
  • Have a memorable meal at the famous Union Oyster House, a national historic landmark and the oldest restaurant in America, opening its doors in 1826. It’s located right off Boston Common and the dining booths are exactly the same as they were in 1826. You can see plaques with the names of famous people who dined in a particular booth like Daniel Webster, President John F Kennedy and Louis Philippe, King of France. That’s pretty cool.

Did you know… The first toothpick used in the US was at the Union Oyster House.

I‘ve only touched on a few fun things to do while in Boston during the summer and I don’t want to sound like I work for the Bureau of Tourism, so I won’t mention shopping on Newbury Street, listening to symphony at Tanglewood or the Boston Pops on the Esplinade, touring the USS Constitution or the Tea Party boats, or strolling through Quincy Market where you can literally buy fresh seafood just off the boat.

I almost forgot…

  • Go on a wine tour…yes, we do have wineries all over New England. While wine has been made in New England for hundreds of years…just in the last 50 years there are more wine vineyards and wineries than ever before.

In closing

Summer…it took awhile but it’s finally here and will be gone before we know it.  So, get out there and enjoy one of the best Seasons of New England.

Skål

I welcome your feedback and comments.  Do you have a favorite summer activity in your own corner of the world? Please share…I’d love to hear about it.
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 comments to Seasons of New England Part 1

  • Katie Gardner

    Oh, Karen, you make me homesick! I’m from Vermont but live in England now and if there’s one time of year I sure miss it’s Summer in New England! I’m now craving cheese, lobster and I’ve got to throw in Ben & Jerry’s too! As fun as all the festivals are and outings, nothing beats finding a good ‘ol swimming hole under a covered bridge and an inner-tube float down a river … ahhhh …

    • Karen

      Greetings, Katie…I love Vermont! Skiing on Mt Mansfield in Stowe and visiting Ben & Jerry’s with every visit. Cabot cheese has a store in Stowe where you can literally eat your way through. Trays of cheeses and crackers are all throughout the store and even after filling our stomachs, we always leave with a bag full of different cheeses to bring home.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments but please come back and read other blogs that I know you’ll love: Seasons of New England Part 2 (Fall), Part 3 (Winter) and Part 4 (Spring). I’d love to get your thoughts on anything I missed.

  • Ravihansa Rajapakse

    Taking a world trip has always being the biggest dream of mine. New England was certainly not in the list before I read this article.
    Love the way you have written this. I am a huge seafood fan! So I would be really looking forward to the Yarmouth Clam Festival! Sounds del!

    • Karen

      Greetings, Ravihansa…thank you for your kind comments. Dreams do come true and I hope your dream of taking a world trip is definitely in your future. You’ll have to create a blog site and document your travels. 

  • Corey

    loved the article. I have only been to that part of the country one time.and it was only for a couple days – I did not want to leave! even got to have fresh lobster while there and it was fantastic! I live in the mountains in california – we 4 wheel the mountain trails, camp, fish and enjoy small town life – so I love and appreciate the description of activities and critters – we have skunks, bears, mountain lions, among many other little things…. love to hear about life all over so it was a fun read!

    • Karen

      Corey,

      Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to leave your thoughts and comments. I love California! You will appreciate this…over the past few weeks,  the wildlife seen in our woods (10 acres) has been  incredible; 20-30 wild turkeys, a bobcat with her 2 kits, a moose and her baby and a mountain lion who’s tail is at least 4 feet long! I’d love to hear what you come across in your neck of the woods.

  • Jaime

    Between hot air balloons and French toast, you have me definitely wanting to add New England to my Summer vacation list.

    I like your remedy for skunk smell. Clearly you’ve had experience, that looks like a great idea. Have you ever tried tomato juice? I’ve heard that’s a good remedy too, I’m guessing the acid and sodium in it helps.

    • Karen

      Hi, Jaime…yes, I’ve heard about tomato juice for “skunk juice” and this concoction is another successful solution…depending on what we have available in our pantries. I’d love to hear from readers what they’ve tried and worked best for them.

      Thanks for visiting, leaving your thoughts and please come back to read about our other seasons in New England in Parts 2,3 & 4.

  • Peter

    I used to live in New York and occasionally traveled to New England. Now I live in Taiwan and while we have plenty of seafood, we lack your relatively cool summers.

    Reading this post brings back fond memories of kayaking in the river, sitting on the grass in summer listening to an outdoor concert, and getting lost while trying to drive out of Boston. Actually, I wouldn’t mind forgetting that last memory.

    Still, it is nice to see your love for the area and it makes me want to come back for a visit. I have a brother in Connecticut who has a new house, that I’ve never been to. Perhaps I can come back for a visit one of these days.
    Though of all the seasons, I prefer New England in the fall best of all.

    • Karen

      Greetings, Peter…

      I grew up in New York…upstate. I can totally relate to your comment about getting lost driving out of Boston, but for me it’s driving INTO Boston. Hopefully you will be able to visit your brother in CT especially in the fall if that’s your favorite season. Please check out my blog Seasons of New England Part 2…Fall. I know you’ll like it and it will bring back lots of warm memories.  

      Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll come back soon.

  • Naomi

    I’m from western Pa. Something we do all summer long is have camp fires and roast hot dogs, burgers and smores. We also enjoy making home-mede ice cream! My husband has a family recipe for ice-cream and he loves to make it for everyone to enjoy. Does anyone else like to make home-made ice cream?

    • Karen

      Hi, Naomi…

      We love cooking outdoors and it always seems to taste better, don’t you think? I love homemade ice cream but haven’t had it since I lived at home before college. My parents had an ice cream machine and my dad made ice cream all summer using strawberries and blueberries us kids picked in the garden. It was delicious with homemade whipped cream.

      You just brought back a sweet memory for me, thank you. Now I want to purchase an ice cream machine and make something awesome.

  • Ann

    New England seems like it has something for everyone. I visited there many years ago but will always remember having delicious lobster with melted butter……yum!
    Festivals, whale watching and great seafood would be on my favourite things list.
    I like how you include recipes with all your other great suggestions. Somehow you manage to make your antioxidant berry spritzer sound healthy, even with the inclusion of vodka or gin!!!
    Your article makes me want to visit.

    • Karen

      Hello, Ann…yes, there is so much to do during the summer months and I only touched on a few. Thanks for sharing your memory and lovely comments.

  • Wendy

    It’s hard to believe that even though I live on the east coast, I have never been to New England. Your post makes me want to go. I want to check out the sugar house tour. It sounds just yummy. And I’m a huge bird watcher, I would love to see all of the native birds. This summer, I’m gonna do it. No excuses!

    • Karen

      Hi, Wendy…where on the east coast do you call home? Hang a few bird feeders and you’ll soon see dozens of native birds. I have a wreath made of pine cones by my back door and a little gray and black bird is making a nest in it. I’m trying to find out what kind of bird she is as she is very small. 

      • Wendy

        I’m in southern PA. I do have several birdfeeders and we have some doves, woodpeckers and blue jays that come around. Once in a while, we have Cardinals as well.

  • John

    All of that is tempting me to go see for myself, but I live far away and planning such could cost a fortune. In between the review is great. You said it well, from the balloon to the cooking and the whale watching which could be very adventurous for children. Thanks for the article

    • Karen

      John, thank you for visiting and leaving your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about our season of summer and invite you to check out my other blogs: Seasons of New England, Parts 2, 3 and 4.

  • Austin

    Great article. i love how you combine cooking recipes with events in the New England area. These all look so fun too.
    I am a bluegrass fan so I would love to make it to the Semi Valley Bluegrass festival. Also the hot air balloons sounds awesome. I wish I lived closer by so I could make it to some of these events.

    • Karen

      Austin…Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. You didn’t mention where you live but if you Google events and happenings in your local region, you may just find a bluegrass festival or hot air balloon festival you can attend this summer. Good luck and please let me know what you find.

  • Crystal Doc

    I have never traveled during the summer but New England sounds like the place to be this summer.

    My top three things to do during my visit would be the balloon festival, whale watching and the wine tours, yum.

    I would also like to go bird watching and visit the famous restaurants. I love dining in style 🙂
    The birds in those pictures are really pretty.

    • Karen

      Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave your thoughts and comments. New England does have a lot to offer with each season and everyone seems to have their favorite. Mine is autumn with all its colors and crisp air.

  • Sharon

    Hi Karen,

    Looks like your summer is full of events.

    I am not from New England but in my school days, there was a chapter to study about New England. It was very interesting to learn more about other places.

    Whale watching and wine tour are on top of my list – my dream holidays. The Antioxidant Berry Spritzer sounds refreshing. Let’s go make one.

    Happy Summer!
    Sharon

    • Karen

      Thank you for visiting, Sharon, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. We try to take in a whale watch every few years…they are SO majestic and really peaceful to watch.  Should you ever be in my neck of the woods, please let me know and I’ll gladly prepare Berry Spritzers for us!

      Have a great summer!

  • Helen

    Karen, I look back many years to my visit to the New England area. One of our friends from the University of British Columbia had her family near Amherst New Hampshire. Not anywhere near as much coast line as Maine but overall a beautiful state.

    We travelled through a bit of Maine and caught the ferry at Portland over to Yarmouth. I have done quite a bit of ocean/sea travel but I must say with a storm in the Bay of Fundy, the trip was quite exciting!

    We don’t have lobsters over here in Australia but quite large Crayfish. Affectionately known as lobsters.

    I will be sure to look up your site if I ever get back that way.

    Thanks for the interesting article.

    Ciao
    Helen

    • Karen

      Thank you for sharing your fond memories of New England. I’m very familiar with the ferry from Portland over to Yarmouth…”The Cat”. Amherst is literally 15 minutes away…so should you ever visit New England again, I hope you will let me know and I will open my home to you.

      Have a wonderful summer, Karen

  • Kevin

    Living in New England, I see a lot of seafood restaurants and occasionally am able to enjoy them. The last time I went up to Maine, I got to enjoy a great lobster dinner at a coastal restaurant called Cook’s Lobster & Ale House. Excellent! Having been whale watching around here yet. Maybe someday I’ll check it out on Cape Cod.

    • Karen

      Hmmm…Cook’s Lobster & Ale House. I definitely have to check it out the next time I’m up there. Can’t go wrong with Maine lobster and a pint of ale!

  • Michelle

    Hello Karen
    Nice to meet you. I really enjoyed your story. kept me interested to read it all. You have lived a busy, but learning life. Reading what you were saying about your weather, is the same thing that we are going through in michigan. Summers like this makes me want to be in the cold winter.
    Michelle

    • Karen

      Hello, Michelle…thanks for commenting. You’ll be singing a different tune come January! What are the winters like in Michigan? I had an uncle who was a New York City photographer for Life Magazine back in the 1950s. One year he grew tired of city life so he quit his job, moved to Alma Michigan, bought a farm and raised chickens.

      Thanks for visiting and I invite you to read other blogs on my site which I guarantee you’ll find both informative and interesting. While you’re at it…try out some pretty awesome recipes. I’d love your feedback.

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