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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Friday, October 1, 2010

Northern Maine - Day 6.5

Only a last morning in northern Maine, as we drove back to Owls Head today. You could argue whether anything south of Greenville is northern Maine, in which case we had only breakfast and the half-hour drive down the west side of Moosehead Lake to boast of. The idyll was meant to be extended through the whole morning by a canoe trip down the Moose River into the big lake, but morning fog

blanketed the river and packed the car and escorted us out.

I was depressed to leave. The Great North Woods has been kind of a talisman to me, a last redoubt against progress and development, a pristine place that evokes religious feelings in an irreligious man, and leaving it was like leaving a church and venturing into an evil world again. The ironic part was that we didn't even really experience the woods, just skirted the southern and eastern edges of the immensity of the real northern Maine, drove in a car, slept in beds, ate in restaurants, hiked short and level trails. The true pilgrim would have camped and cooked outside, sleeping on spruce boughs like Thoreau did and catching brook trout for dinner. The true disciple would have combed the woods and bogs at dawn and dusk for moose. We slept in, had cocktails at dusk.

Yet the Great North Woods may be just as important as a dream and an inspiration and a symbol. To know they exist, to realize that it's vital to protect and preserve them, is as rejuvenating as being in them. Well........., not quite. Nothing prepared me for the beauty of Katahdin rising out of the woods beyond Daicey Pond, and my respect for life and the world is much richer for it. I'd like to export such peace and wonder to every trouble spot in the world.

Or maybe my depression was simpler. Our list of wildlife seen was a little scanty - a bald eagle, 3 ducks/geese (possibly redbreasted mergansers, I've discovered), a mink dashing across the Tote Road, a grouse (or ptarmigan or quail), a deer in Maynards' back yard, and 3 foxes on the road to Jackman - and the only moose, kind of a god-like animal when you think about it, alternately savage and meek, shy and aggressive, hidden, that we saw in 7 days was this fellow standing in a park in Houlton.

It doesn't matter - like Thoreau I'll still worship you.

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