Tag: Maine

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Cousins and Buddy

Date unknown, but sometime in the 1970s during my early teenage years, my cousin pats a freshly-made snowman while I watch. I would like to thank Dan for emailing the Featured Image. The photographer likely was one of our dads. Camera is anyone’s guess but I will make one: Kowa—likely the seT R2. Leaf shutter! In the interchangeable lenses!

Snow is a constant during Northern Maine winters—as much today as 50 years ago, if not more so. Average annual snowfall at the National Weather Station in Caribou is 278 cm (109 inches). An April 29, 2022 analysis by Emily Jerkins, St. John Valley Times, appearing in the Bangor Daily News, affirms: “Maine is snowier than Alaska thanks to Aroostook County“.

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Yeah, But What About Diesel?

The price of gasoline is now above six bucks at my local Valero, which is one of the more affordable stations in this part of San Diego. Diesel is higher, and that’s a problem for truckers and the cost of transporting goods to retailers.

But there is another dimension that I hadn’t considered. Back home in Northern Maine, farmers are planting crops for autumn harvest. My dad reminded me that tractors and other equipment typically run on diesel. Higher costs transporting food is a bad situation, but the spike to grow food is far worse—especially if some smaller farms simply can’t afford to operate.

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A Taste of Maine in San Diego

My wife and I walk around Liberty Station, in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood during some weekends, because the open pavilion with dirt paths around grassy center reminds us of the National Mall, Washington, D.C. The arts, entertainment, and shopping facility feels oddly constructed, for it is. The destination was once the Naval Training Center San Diego, and the architecture and vastness between buildings is homage to the heritage.

The military base closed with many others, as part of vast downsizing two decades ago, during Bill Clinton’s presidency (I wonder if his wife won’t wield the closure hatchet yet again, should she be elected later this year). The complex shuttered in 1997, and like many others underwent redevelopment. Something similar happened to Loring Air Force Base, located about 16 km (10 miles) from my hometown in Northern Maine. Loring’s redevelopment was nowhere nearly as successful as the San Diego training center. Location. Location. Location. 

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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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Maine Decides Whether to Shoot Bear Like Ducks in a Barrel

On this election day, I long to be back in Maine, so that I could vote on the initiative to ban bear barrels. It’s a practice unfamiliar to me. I grew up in a family of hunters, which killed for sport and food. They tracked the animals, not lured them with sweet throwaways.

I only learned about the referendum this morning, from a news story in my RSS feeds. National Geographic violates Betteridge’s Law of Headlines by asking question: “Should We Bait Black Bears With Doughnuts?” I am embarrassed for being so out of touch with important issues and politics in the Pine Tree State—they matter to family there, and to me. I may be long-time removed, but Maine will always be home. I identity myself as a Mainer, more than by any other measure. 

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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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Le Soleil and Me

My cousin Dan emailed several old photos he recently obtained while vacationing in Maine. That’s me, probably age 11, but only a guess. The newspaper’s date isn’t visible. I don’t recall the photo or its taking but the shot must have been posed by either my father or uncle. I don’t read French. (Le Soleil was published out of Quebec City. This evening, a quick Web search left me wondering if the newspaper still exists.)