Tag: Aroostook County

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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 For starters, Richard Robles is no longer active on Flickr, which he joined in January 2006, and I could find little else about him—even confirmation that the gentlemen still lives.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”. 

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The Bear Cub

On an autumn evening in November 2005, I recalled true story “Somewhere Between Dickey and Rivière-Bleue“, which gives glimpse of Aroostook County hunting lifestyle. In August 2013, I greatly expanded the tale into the “The Bear Cub”, which I submitted to Amazon as consideration for a Kindle Single. Unlike my previous, and only other submission, the retailer didn’t dignify the nearly 5,000-word story with a rejection email.

Last year, I had planned to expand the vignette into a short book with other stories, and some family recipes. that reveal something about Aroostook culture then and now. That project sidelined, like several others, because of blurred vision problems that are in 2015 remedied enough to return to serious writing. I hope to finish the book, tentatively titled Growing Up Aroostook, sometime this year.

For today, I share the text as submitted to Amazon—for your reading education and entertainment. Please note: Because of its length, the Henry David Thoreau book excerpt is italicized rather than put into block quote. Enjoy! 

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O Canada, What Say You?

What do two forts share in common? Kaci Hickox, the 33 year-old healthcare worker from Fort Worth, Texas, taking refuge in Fort Kent, Maine. Surely you know of the so-called Ebola nurse and the legal scuffle about quarantining her. As an Aroostook County native born about 70 kilometers (okay, I rounded up) southeast of FK and having traveled widely across the Lone Star State, I know something about the character of both regions. Think independent-mindedness times two, which equals “Don’t tell me what to do”.

The simple story: She volunteered in Sierra Leone, where the disease rages. She returned to the wrong state, New Jersey, which put her in isolation. She fled to one of the most rural and remote areas of the Northeast. Maine’s governor demanded voluntary quarantine. She defied it. A federal judge ruled against the Gov. News reporters who couldn’t find Fort Kent with a Google Map ruined the autumn tourist trade by filling up the only hotel. We all wait to see if she stays symptom free through November 10. Pass the popcorn. The suspense is thicker than a horror flick. 

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Uglydolls and Micmac Basket

This is our Uglydoll family. My wife keeps them in a traditional Micmac basket, which the folks back home in Aroostook County use for the potato harvest.

The Mi’kmaq tribe is native to and mostly lives in the Maritime provinces of Canada. We bought the basket, which has sentimental value because of my younger days as a potato picker, from the Aroostook band of Micmacs in 1996. White as I am, one of ancestors is Micmac. 

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Somewhere Between Dickey and Rivière-Bleue

I am in a storytelling mood, and so here comes another one. I swear, by all people precious to me, that this is a true story and not a tall tale. I have to say it, because you, the reader, might not believe the account or the accuracy of my memory.

My dad first took me camping when I was seven years old. Where I’m from, camping had nothing to do with RVs or tidy, civilized campgrounds, or at least when I was a kid. My dad, uncle and their crew—about 10 men—headed deep into the woods along the Crown of Maine, or Aroostook, west of an area better known as the St. John Valley.