Maine Mountain Heritage Project

Help Preserve Maine's Mountain Heritage

Mount Katahdin
Mountain Lake

Welcome to our site, which is kindly being hosted by the Harraseeket Inn. Please bear with us as we update and improve these pages and add new essays. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please email nadianichols@aol.com.  Thank you!

Penny Gray

 

Click below for contest coverage by the Bangor Daily News

http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/04/06/outdoors/maine’s-mountains-focus-of-essay-contest/ 

Maine Story Tellers and Poets Wanted 

 MAINE STORY TELLERS AND POETS WANTED

 

 The Harraseeket Inn, in conjunction with the Maine Mountain Heritage Project, is currently seeking submissions for a publication tentatively titled "Voices From Maine's Mountains". Stories, poems and essays must be limited to 1,700 words and can involve outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, skiing, hiking, living or vacationing in or near the mountains of Maine. "We're looking for year round and seasonal Mainers, young and old, who have a story to tell about the mountains they love," says Penny Gray, co-owner of the Harraseeket Inn and published author. "We want to create a lasting legacy that honors our mountain heritage and the important role these special landscapes have played in our lives." The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2011. All submissions will be published on-line, and the best will be compiled in book form and released to the public. Any photographs sent should not be originals. Electronic copy preferred. Please send contact information and a brief bio with submission to Maine Mountain Heritage Project, C/O Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main Street, Freeport Maine 04032, or emailed to harraseeke@aol.com. 

 

A post script: We are currently compiling these essays into a magazine format for distribution.  Not enough entries were submitted to consider a larger publication.  Thanks to all who contributed their impressions and experiences of Maine's beautiful mountains!

 

 Katahdin Video

www.youtube.com/watch  An ode to Katahdin.  This is a great video, lasting approximately fifty minutes.  Make a bowl of popcorn first, and enjoy!

 

              Essays On Line:  Voices From Maine's Mountains

 

Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, Painting by Frederick Edwin Church 

 

                                          In the Heart of a Mountain

                                            Written By: Carolyn R Dodge

When I was 9 years old, I looked at my Mom and told her that when I grow up, people are going to have to travel into the woods of a mountain to find me. That is where I am today, living in an off-grid home that I designed and my family built together.  Read whole essay.....

 

 

        

                                              Wonder

                               by Dave Corrigan 

                                   

 

 

 

“Wonder’ can’t be imagined, it has to be experienced.” A really good friend said those words to me tonight.  

 

   Think about that for a moment.  The feeling that comes from watching the Sun rise over snow covered Mountains. The feeling of standing in an open field on a clear night and experiencing more stars than your mind can count. Waking up in the frigid pre dawn hours and blowing the campfire back to life, while the coyotes sing in the distance.

 

 

Or quietly paddling around a bend in the River on a summer morning, and seeing an Eagle in a tree fifteen feet away.

These things can’t be imagined.  Not really.  Read more...

 

 

 

 

MY SANCTUARY

 

As a young boy I often climbed everything in sight that had any elevation to it, just because it was there. As I got older, in my early teens I took to climbing the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire. A friend and I made our own climbing gear on our forge out of old horse shoes and other junk metal found around our farms. We climbed everything from Mount Washington to Katahdin and a lot in between over the years we were growing up. We climbed Duck Head in Jackson, New Hampshire when we were about fourteen and my grandfather told us that the university climbing club had been trying to climb it for years and never had. He was shocked that we did it; a friend of his had seen us through binoculars and told him that he had watched us do it. He gave us hell for doing something so dangerous, and then wanted to know how we had found a way up through the ledges. A couple of years later he’d told me that he had been so proud of us and he’d bragged to everyone that we had done it.

As I got into my later teens in high school, I started to get serious about hunting and found myself always climbing to the tops of whatever was in the sight. The tops of mountains drew me like a magnet. I found the isolation and the ability to see all that was in front of me for miles to be intriguing. I also learned that it was a place that can presented a great feeling of holiness and peace. There is just something up there that makes one ponder the existence of most things in life.

Later, as I became an adult, entered the military and got married the mountains were a place I went to seek solace. I always felt that I could talk to God, the spirits or whatever it is that gives the tops a feeling of safety and contentment. It’s a place that allows one to grieve without sorrow. If you sit upon a high mountain top and gaze out on the earth around you, all the hostilities and anguish within your being seems to ease within you and become unimportant in the grand scheme of things. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, I swear you can hear the spirits of the earth and of the winds talk to you.

I also know that when you are being pursued, that gaining any high ground is an unparalleled goal in ones inner drive and soul. It gives you an advantage over your enemy and gives you a great feeling of superiority. It is the nature of the place.

What others feel I do not know, but I climbed a mountain here in Maine when I was young and felt much of that place within me and have all my life. Why I do not know, it just calls to me in a strange way. I have been back several times and climbed to the top where I addressed the trials and tribulations that were affecting my life at that time. It helped me to sort things out and to move on.

I have told my sons and daughters that it is a place for our family to gather in a time of a great hazard to all our lives. That I would be there and wait for them no matter how long it took, that it was our sanctuary, a place to be. They know of this place well.

Mountains were made by the mother of creation and are to stand forever as a place of greatness and are of a spiritual nature. I have been so fortunate to have left my foot steps on mountains across several continents. I have been blessed to have been there, but the one here in Maine is where I’d like to rest upon forever. It has become a part of whom and what I am. It is my sanctuary.

Dave Miller


 

A Hike up Rumford Whitecap 

by Brad Blake

 

On Sunday, October 3, Stephen Watson and I made a pilgrimage up Rumford Whitecap Mountain in Oxford County. I say pilgrimage because this is a stunning and unique mountain, one of the lowest elevations to find sub-arctic flora in the state. It has sweeping 360 degree views from its open ledges. It has always been a favorite hike to me and this year was special, as it is likley the last time to hike this gem and see the viewshed unsullied by industrial wind turbines. I have posted a series of photos, with captions, in this blog.  Read on....

 

 

OCTOBER HIKE

A hike up the mountain in the October sun,
The sounds of birds, babbling brooks and crispy leaves,
The fragrance of pine, moss, and damp soil
Awakens a sense of nature that lies within my being.
Timber that has fallen from its majestic state
Adds it’s own dimension of beauty
And service to various forms of life.

A gaze towards heaven brings into focus
Weathered trunks that have withstood so many storms,
With scars from missing twigs and branches,
Reminders of what once was and is no more.
The treetops sway, each with its own rhythm
As the zephyr plays with its branches
And Mother Nature sings her lullaby.

As I sit on earth’s stool of solid granite
And ponder the mystery of life,
I listen to the laughter of the leaves
As they break loose from the bonds of heritage,
Only to fall, be trampled upon and die,
So as to add a richness to the soil
And become the womb from which new life is born.

Shirley G. Aubé

Skowhegan, Maine

                                                   

 

 
Katahdin
 
 
I’m clinging to the rocks
Like a deranged spider monkey
An OLD deranged spider monkey
At my age
My stage in life
I have nothing to prove
So, what in the hell
Am I doing up here
On the knife edge trail
No wider than a painted highway line
Four thousand plus feet
Above flatland
Zero visibility
Shrouded in fog
Eyeglasses steamed up
Running low on water
Then, the leg cramps start
Traversing grey granite slabs boulders and blocks
At impossible angles covered with lichen
Or sliced into thin strips
Crinkled and standing on edge
Like so much inedible bacon
Unbalanced
Over balanced
Dizzy
Each step an adventure
A test of will
Me against my vertigo
No payoff at the summit
No awe inspiring vistas
Just a footsore descent
A hardscrabble slide
Of rock upon rock
 
My arms and legs
Carried the knotted pain
Left by the cramps
For three days afterwards
I swallowed aspirin like PEZ
Upon seeing the photos of me
Posted on some face book page
A friend remarked
“He looked like a frightened cat
Inching his way down from a too tall tree”
 
 
I’ve come to the conclusion
The word Katahdin
Is a native word
Whose meaning is
There is no fool like an old fool
 
Next summer, the cathedral trail
 

 

 

Richard K Williams, of Richmond Maine

 has been published in three anthologies, Magnapoets magazine and on line publications. He also participate in open mic  readings in various towns in the state of Maine. 

 

 

Center Hill, Mt Blue State Park                        

             Without Thought 

While teaching Down East, I was asked to describe the mountains of western Maine where I was born on a farm in Carthage.  I immediately thought of the view from Center Hill, which is in Mount Blue State Park in Weld.  Without thought, the words tumbled from my lips like a stone tumbling down the face of Tumbledown Mountain.  I simply said, "You can feel God."

                       Frank Hutchinson, Carthage Maine

 

Rainbow near Katahdin 

 

 

Being an avid hiker, I've had many adventures in the Maine mountains.  Mountain hiking gets you close to nature.  One time up on Coburn Mountain we heard a dog bark.  A few moments later, a cow moose came running down the trail at us.  It spied us, turned around and ran back up the trail.  We heard the dog bark again, and a few minutes later, here comes the moose.  It sees us, turns around and runs back up the trail. We heard the dog bark again and this time we stepped off the trail so the moose could run by us.

 

You never know what mother nature has in store for you when you reach the stop.  My friends and I made it to the summit of Big Moose Mountain only to find a thunderstorm bearing down on us.  It came down Moosehead Lake so fast there was no escape. Fortunately, it went by with only a few sprinkles and in the storm's wake, six rainbows, stacked one upon the other, enhanced our relief of missing the storm.   

One night on Williams Mountain, we saw a light coming across the sky.  It looked like a plane and when it got due east of us it suddenly went into a downward spiral.  It disappeared bedlow the trees and to this day we wonder if we witnessed a plane crash.

The ultimate physical test for a Maine hiker is Mount Katahdin.  On my 78th hike up the mountain I met a white haired old man.  He was a psychologist and was studying the effect of finishing the Appalachian Trail on through hikers.  We both headed back down the Hunt Trail and to my astonishment, he kept up with me.  We made it down the mountain in two hours, which to this day is my best descent time ever on the Hunt Trail.  On last years hike my descent was almost four hours and I was sore for over a week.  

I've been stalked by coyotes, half eaten alive by black flies, and almost fried by lightning bolts and still look forward to another year of adventure in the Maine mountains.

Mike Flynn, Ripley Maine

 

 

 He’d spent his youth out hiking

All the carving woodland trails,

Out helping his grandfather

Hauling heavy, sap filled pails.

Whether Spring vacations boiling syrup,

Or late Autumn’s chase for game,

Time spent on these mountains

Always made him feel the same.

The time he’d seen an eagle,

Watched it silently soar

The sight was a first,

And there were so many more.

His father worked the mountain,

Knew where to find the deer,

They took that trip every season,

Until he passed away that year.

Now he takes his own grandkids,

Has shown them the mountain’s top.

Keep up to ol’ Grandpa”, he yells

When the young ones ask to stop.

Every summer was spent camping,

Watching sun set on the pond,

Making memories ever lasting,

Forming those unbreakable bonds.

To some mountains look the same,

Rocks where some will climb and roam,

But to the people who loved those mountains

They’d always look like home.

 

Jade Grenier

Abbot, Maine

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

         VILLAGE STREETS

Linda Malloy

 

I walk the village streets -

   of Maine.

Quiet, comfortable roads

that pass village shops and inns.

 

I look for no one

on these streets of solitude.

Only the road is

my friend.

 

The path travels beyond

                       the village-

through the mountains

of majestic pines, it winds.

 

But- I stay the village streets

a traveler here,

warmed by Fall's embrace

and candlelight.

 

 

        I'M COMING HOME

 

 

I'm coming home-

  all alone

to the mountains and the streams

embracing all my dreams.

 

It's a place I need to be ,

if I want to feel free.

The world is closing in

and I need to start again.

 

I'm coming home-

all alone

to the woods of Maine.

They can ease the pain.

 

There's a life for me-

one that I can see.

In the towns that I know,

that's where I need to go.

 

I'm coming home-

 all alone

to the mountains of blue,

to start my life anew.

 

 

LINDA D. MOLLOY

 

 

Linda Molloy graduated from Boston College with a B.S. in English and Education, followed by a M.Ed. with a concentration

in Media Studies from Fitchburg State University.  She was a High School English teacher for thirty-six years and a Community Service Coordinator at Billerica Memorial High School in Billerica, MA.  

"I absolutely love Maine and hope to someday buy a home there.  Maine has so many things to offer but one of the most important things is the peacefulness that seems to envelop one when there.  Maybe it's just a Maine state of mind, but I don't think so.  Maine is uncluttered and free.  It's like coming home to an old friend."

 

 

 

Ridgetop Retreat

  By S. Ramsey

 

A year and twenty

I walked this path.

Up the steep climb

to an overlook

and a view of my town below

that only I knew about

(or so it seemed).


Day followed day,

seasons came and passed.

On snowshoe, in sandals,

a pilgrimage to note

the minute changes in

the forest floor and canopy

that only one who walks the same path

again and again

can delight in.


The summer came and

so did the men with big machines

to farm the ridge, harvesting its bounty of

spruce, fir, pine, beech, and birch

so as to put food

on the tables of their families.


And when they left, it was gone.

My path.

I could not find it.

That run I’d coursed for so many years, so many times.

All gone, gone except for where it remains

in my memory, and in those of lovers and friends

who shared with me the glimpse of the majesty I saw every day.


That special place now rests in my heart as I

make my way up

to the top of another ridge.

The ritual begins again.

 

Susan Ramsey lives in the woods of Blanchard Twp., Maine.

 

 

 

By-Gone Days

by Rex T. Martin



The mountains of Maine have always had a strong attraction for me.  As a child, I wandered the side of Pleasant Mountain picking blueberries with my mother and brothers, eating almost as many as I picked, and drank when I got thirsty from the spring that bubbled from its depths.  There was a cleared ski slope that extended part-way up its face with a rope two and a jump, but no buildings, even on the lake side of the narrow dirt road that ran along its base.  My father dragged the road frequently with a homemade drag constructed of small tree saplings that he hooked behind a pickup truck.  He worked for Pleasant Mountain Inn, which was located down the road, on Moose Pond.


As a young adult, I turned down jobs in other states offering six figure salaries; the bond with the rivers, lakes, forests and mountains of Maine was too deep to break.  To this day I have no regrets.


Having had the opportunity of hunting the Rocky Mountains, from Montanan to Arizona, and having heard the haunting bugle of bull elks on dimly lit mountain sides as dawn was breaking, and the challenging snarls and growls of a bayed mountain lion, I think the high piercing scream of a Maine black bear equals them for evoking human emotions, especially if darkness has set in and the bruin in nearby.  I’ve heard it several times in my life, it’s unmistakable and unforgettable-many compare it to a woman’s scream when panic stricken, which is something I’ve been fortunate enough not to have experienced.


Due to the fact that I’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I thought my days of hunting were over.  However, when my youngest son Paul stopped each day and told me of his and a friend’s adventures for that day in their quest to get a bear, I decided I had to try one last time.  Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said, “It’s not how many years you have to live, but the amount of living you do in the years you have.”


Six a.m. the next morning found us up in the White Mountain National Forest, where we parked the truck and led the hounds through the moist undergrowth near a marsh, into a stand of hardwoods at the base of Bell Mountain.  Bears have fed there for decades that I know of. Interesting to me, as it’s just a few miles from where my great-great-great-great grandfather settled in the late 1700’s, after serving in the Revolutionary War.


It didn’t take long before I noticed one of the hounds smell a clump of grass as high as her head. She let out an excited bawl and took off at full speed toward the marsh.  We released the other three hounds who raced after her, chopping track all the way.


We got around the marsh and headed up Albany Mountain, where we could hear the hounds yodeling their way up its side.  Sometime in the late afternoon we left Albany Mountain for the contiguous side of Farwell Mountain, all the time going higher.  Late afternoon arrived and we were still pursuing the critter, but had become aware of his intentions, as the side of the mountain became steep ledges.


Arriving at the base of the ledges we could hear the dogs barking steadily about twenty to thirty feet above.  Paul started to scale the ledge-front by gripping little cracks and crevices with his fingertips.  He slowly made his way up the face of the ledge, disappeared over its edge and began firing his hand gun.  


Listening to the shooting but unable to see what was going on, we waited somewhat anxiously.  After a while we heard Paul call out, “Bring your forty-five up here.  I’m out of ammunition and I’ve wounded him.  He’s up a tree, but it looks like he’s going to come down.  He’s a big one and mad as all get-out.”  It was hard to believe a tree could have grown in those ledges, but it had and the bear had known where it was located.


I took off my shoulder holster, gave it and more ammo to our friend, then pushed him from beneath as he climbed up to where the action was.  He performed quite a feat getting up there, as he was recovering from recent injuries sustained in an accident.  I knew it was up to them, as there was no way I could climb up there, though I had a tremendous desire to do so. 


The forty-five exploded twice, and a large bear came plummeting down through the air, hitting the ground a short distance away.  Being unarmed I stood perfectly still, saying to myself, “I hope he’s dead.”  He was.


They got the bear off the mountain after dark.  It was a lot of hard work for them to get a bear that size all that distance over rough and mountainous terrain.  I’d gone ahead to the truck with the hounds and was resting when they finally arrived.  It was a fitting climax to my decades of bear hunting.  The hide from the ledge bear made a handsome wall rug, which hangs in our friend’s home.


Both of my sons still enjoy their time in the mountains, checking the wildlife inhabitants while exploring and viewing the various terrain.  The oldest now resides in Wyoming and is presently guiding big game hunters in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, where he sometimes encounters grizzly bears.  His experiences in the mountains of Maine have proved valuable to him in the vast wilderness of the Northwest.


For any of you who have contracted bear fever, there are plenty of bear in the White MOuntain National Forest, but you’ll earn it if you get one out of those mountains.  From Bell Mountain, to Albany and Farwell, all the way over the Caribou and the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness Area to the New Hampshire border, plenty of old boars roam that need to be harvested.  When you take one of them, you’ve saved cubs that the old males often hunt down and kill.  Let the females and the cubs live, and there will never be a lack of bear in Maine.


When many people think of Maine mountains, they often think of Katahdin, Old Speck, perhaps the Baldpates, or probably,most often, one with a ski resort on it.  Maine is blessed with a large number of mountains, all unique in their own individual way.  There are those who believe that they harbor gold. I happen to be one of them.  Others believe the gold is in their development and capitalizing on their terrain as excellent recreational locations, catering to the skiers, hikers, campers, sportsmen.  Some now would and have desecrated them with wind turbines, which I think will be proved in the future to have been a foolhardy venture, resulting in permanent damage to these phenomenas of nature.


To me, their greatest asset is their rugged beauty that challenges anyone, regardless of what their intentions are, and can reek havoc on the unprepared and uninitiated.  They stand out like the strength of Hercules, inviting you to conquer them.  When their challenge is accepted, they extort an effort and determination from you far beyond that needed for every day living, but similar to that needed in maintaining an unyielding faith.  In reward, they give back sweeping vistas of grandeur, a sense of peace, solitude and the satisfaction of having met and survived their silent but often daunting invitation.


Hiking mountains, penetrating thick swamps, stalking deer, moose, elk and the pursuit of bear, bobcat and mountain lion are just memories now, as the trail winds toward its inevitable end.


But Oh! what great memories they are.  I can still feel the kiss of a refreshing breeze, the smell of the conifers in the crisp morning air, the nip of the first frost, the warmth of a rising sun, and see the stories that were written in the recently fallen snow.

 

Rex Martin lives in Harrison, Maine


 

 

 

 

 

With every measured footstep

man and earth must meet


D.C. Beal   Alna, Maine


People in the parking lot

were smiling, full of glee

with stories of their journey 

and pictures to show me

some where looking downward

as they rubbed a new found pain

the trail required toughness

the message was quite plain

but I was optimistic

as I saw the trail ahead

not a time for uncertainty

but confidence instead

and now it’s man and nature

a bond that I will find

it’s not about the physical

it’s more about the mind

and now I pass a wooden bench

where others choose to rest

but the adrenaline inside of me

provides no need to rest

I feel the need for movement

yes, I really need to move

I have my pride, I have my stride,

and now I’m in my groove

and now I’m at the timberline 

the deepest breath I take

emotions well inside of  me

the tears, they are not fake

I tip my water bottle

as down the trail I stare

does the world know what I’m doing

why should it even care

but upwards is my focus

and onward I must go

I have to take this mountain

it’s a feeling I must know

the ledges jut around me

and stones ‘neath my feet

but with every measured footstep

man and earth must meet

I tilt my body earthward

to stabilize my climb

and the sun, without a single word

assures me I have time

and now I’m at the top alone

and yes, that was by choice

I need not see a human form

or hear a human voice

not the sound of chainsaws

or engines run on gas

for noise is their pollution 

and the vapors that they pass

nor see a turbine turning 

as it blocks my view of sky

I choose to see the treetops wave

as a gentle breeze blows by

 

 

Big Rock

by Shannon Sweeney



Gaze up from the mountain's base

Through trees whose branches interlace


Boughs and stems traced in virgin frost

Follow the rock's contour until they're lost


Find where the wilhousette has met the moon

Listen to the chilled, brisk breeze's tune


Along the slope there is a stream

Appearing as the snow's only seam


I'm engulfted by crisp, wintry air

Snowflakes land upon my hair


The lift taunts me as I giddily glide

The line so long, though I patiently bide


My chair inches me up the thick metal wire

Together we climb and slowly get higher


The sun shines through one dark cloud

Illuminates the land bright and proud


Occasional rays hit branches that twinkle

Shadows reveal where skis leave a wrinkle


Finally I have reached the top

But this is not where I stop


Up another trail I go

Searching for the one I love and know


I find the hidden trail I've longed for

As soon as I begin I want more


For now I am left in a trance

I allow my skis to do their dance


But with speed comes a hefty price


Black and ice

Adrenalin's chill


Painful spill

Open an eye


Snow grey sky

Breathe in and out


Filled with doubt

My thought when I collapse;


Return to what makes me gasp


Up my body goes with a heave

My skis again begin to weave


Gaining back a welcome beat

Not stopping until the run's complete


These skis hold a state of bliss

An emotion I refuse to dismiss


A feeling similar to the taking in of air

I'm in love with skiing, a dangerous affair


With the mountain I have a rendezvous

Clouds disappear and the sky turns blue


The landscape below makes me gape

I thank the glaciers that gave Maine shape


My skis start to race against time

Afternoon reaches its prime


Snow sparkles again with the setting sun

I whisper farewell to the mountain after my run

 

Shannon Sweeney is a 9th grade student at Presque Isle High School, where she is on the ski team.  In the winter she also enjoys skiing with her family.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                

                                                                            Katahdin’s Child

 


             Every morning my second-grade classmates and I recited the pledge of allegiance followed by a near-whisper version of American the Beautiful, saving, as we did, our loud, joyous voices for the playground. For most of the day I sat at the hard-as-granite seat of my desk close to rattling windows and clanging radiators. In cold weather brittle air rushed in through the windows to balance the gushing white plumes of whistling steam that shot out of the devices like locomotives. In the spring and fall those same open windows let in lilac- or leaf-scented breezes calling us to adventures beyond the four walls of this school that perched like a benevolent, grey elephant atop a hill overlooking Mt. Katahdin.

 

 

Aah . . . Katahdin.

 

 

 

In all my years at Lincoln’s Ballard Hill School there was no seat, no other area in that welcoming building that I loved more than my spot in that classroom. There in the space assigned to me, I was only a glance away from the mountain that watched over my childhood. When we sang,

“ . . . for purple mountain’s majesty above the fruited plain...” I gave her my full attention because I was certain she was the mountain of the lyrics and, therefore, the fruited plain must be the apple trees situated on the lawn of the Catholic parsonage across the street from school.

I would happily have spent every school year of my education in that seat if it meant I could rest my chin in the palm of my hands starring toward Katahdin like a child with a first crush. Light on her hills could be as glaring as a floodlamp, or when she was shrouded in fog, as mysterious as a wedding veil. Some days grey-blue, fishing net clouds engulfed her like a captured whale, and other times her wardrobe of snow hid her completely from sight.

 

 

I am a child of Katahdin. Most every day of my life from birth until the day I left for college, I inhaled the oxygen she and her pine forests provided. I knew well her compassionate heart and sensed from the time I could pronounce her name that she was the spiritual center of Maine. Proof of this was the number of people who flocked north for summer pilgrimages. This sanctuary called its worshipers to come bearing camping gear, canoes and kayaks. They obliged and ascended past Lincoln into the wilderness where Katahdin’s spaciousness welcomed all.

 

 

 

Yet in all the years that Katahdin loomed in the background of my youth, I never climbed to her peak nor ventured anywhere near Knife Edge. And except for the occasional Girl Scout hike partway up her slope from Camp Natarswi, our time together did not involve direct contact, preferring as we did, to admire one another from afar. Though I lived nearly an hour away from the place her incline came to a rest on flat land, distance didn’t matter. When I listened closely I could hear her whisper to me like a tent mate in the dark, “Come rest. Sit a spell. Share with me a quiet way of being.”

Nowadays I only see Katahdin when my family returns from California or Maryland or wherever we currently reside. We turn onto the camp road narrowly cut between white birches and follow it to Pine Point, the family cottage on Mattanawcook Lake that’s been handed down one generation to the next for some 70 years. I sit on the porch and look out past tree bark and moss, across the steel-drum surface of the lake, and find her just above the horizon where she’s always been. With Katahdin in sight, stealthy loons dipping in and out of the surface of the water, and bullfrogs croaking in a nearby but secretive location, I breathe her in once more.

 

 

The oldest of old folks in Maine see no reason to leave this near-perfect state. They shake their heads in amusement at the idea that anyone would wander away when each season brings wonder and change. I agree. Only a damn fool would pack up and turn her back on this part of the state, as I so often have. I am Katahdin’s child, and while the grammar and math lessons of second grade were all but lost on me, the stillness found in her good company is what calls me home.

 

 

 

 

 

Ellen Synakowski, Chevy Chase, Maryland

 

 

 

 

 

Dustin Dumont



Camp

 



Once again, the car climbs the swirling, dusty road. With each second, the landscape clears, leaving more and more of the ordinary world behind. Just pulling into the driveway provides a sense of familiarity and welcome. It’s been about two weeks since I’ve ventured up here. The week wasn’t too long, but it was strenuous and I’m ready for some quality relaxation.

 

 

After placing the camp supplies down inside, I return to the great outdoors. Sliding the glass doors open reserves a spot to sit and let my feet dangle carelessly to the ground. With my back to what little civilization there is, in front of me lies sheer green. I feel lifted and tucked into this mountain, swallowed by the utter vastness. Dead ahead lies a gap that links the dirt road to this lot. Branching from this gap is a thick line of tree-growth forming a sort of confines. Trees that once filled the space have been removed, leaving a flat, grassy terrain. The ones that remain extend high with little restriction. With little care or expectations, the life of a tree sure sounds like the life for me!

 

The sun doesn't show its brilliant face as much as I'd like it to, making a path across the treetops speedily. They are quick to hinder the visibility of it’s beaming rays. Ultimately, the evening transforms to shadow relatively early. The birds hush their songs and all the earth slows down around me. My eyesight progressively fails and my ears naturally begin to compensate. All I hear, about thirty yards to my right, is a babbling brook that tumbles down the mountain in search of low-ground. The sound is hushful yet more audible than anything else. Though, like right out of a novel, the picture I am trying to paint is real and as vivid a vision is imaginable.

 

I can feel the change of seasons eagerly waiting on its toes. A chill clings to the breeze; it pulses through my flesh. I expect a relentless winter will follow a bitter autumn. Maine folk must have thick skin to comfortably handle the 'mood swings' she deals out.  Drawing again from the pipe, I observe the smoke calmly swirl into the atmosphere, how slowly it seems to dissipate. I have resorted to using an aged box of matches to light the bowl. With every strike a crackling, snapping sensation and a distinct sulfuric odor become present. Through the pale haze I can smell the distinct aroma of steak sizzling on the grill. Camp and fine meats just go together better than one exclusively. Becoming too much to bear, I remove myself from my dwelling place in search of the destination; it is dinner time!

 

I do not know how long to expect we shall stay. At least the night, but upon waking it is hard to estimate how long before we no longer desire to occupy here. Jeremy had mentioned starting a fire beside the camp when the night has completely settled down. I have no reason to object. A few friends arrive and the company is settling. We joke and reminisce through the late hours, not heeding the various groans of the nightly creatures. This is truly a campfire tradition as I am sure many can relate to this priceless behavior.


Everything appeared in order upon arrival this afternoon. I did my best to complete the listed chores that need attention before we departed. In retrospect I have realized the bucket that catches waterfall under the sink has slipped my mind. The front deck that is in construction is coming along nicely. Eventually, I acquired the courage to walk along the few poorly assembled beams!  I had an opportunity to catch a glimpse of a football game on the television. This is highly appreciated, for it is one of the spare things I watch on television. Most content on there is so mind-numbing these days, I cannot understand the general public's fascination with such a distraction. Jeremy took the dirt bike for a ride a few times during the several hours here. Often I could hear it whizzing around in the distance. The summer was long and pleasing and as usual, I'm not ready for it to be over. It was by far the best summer of my life. Standing outside, I know it'll be over too soon. The nights grow ever colder.

 

I awoke randomly last night from a deep sleep I believe. Whether, it was the ruckus of my brother tossing a log in the wood-stove or the utter coldness surging through these walls, I do not know. Rolling out of my bed, I proceeded to stumble outdoors. Hormones in my body are peaking, coursing through my veins; a euphoric state is the product. I love the still of the night. As usual, I was eerie of a critter leaping on me from the darkness of the night as I stand vulnerable! I pulled my faded jeans up around my waist crudely and returned to my slumber. I couldn’t fall asleep immediately, for tomorrow was already on mind; 'If the weather permits, I think I will take the ATV for a cruise. I will just cruise...'


The best thing about being out here is the altered state of mind and that is such a fragile thing. Seclusion leads me to feel so insignificant, yet significant in the uniformity that I contribute to. I suppose it's just the concentration of attention that differentiates here and the 'real world.' The miniscule things are hardly taken for granted and the passiveness is no exception, for it is fulfilling. Even the concept of 'now' registers differently in my mind. The whole sense of time is warped, contrasts of past, present, and future blend together.

Just a man and his thoughts right here. I can only handle so much of this constant, to be honest. Again, realizing why my father loves this tenuous, but brilliantly animated environment, I continue to ponder the mere endless wonder of this simple site. What a privilege it is to vicariously partake in the refreshing outdoors, let alone this location I consider my 'second home.' The experience is submissive in that it is entirely subjective to what we make of it.