We are a terribly divided country just now and some will quickly argue about how much so. We bear arms in churches, clubs and playgrounds, shoot cars turning in our driveways and publicly parade our anger at other people’s personal choices. It’s an onerous time to be in this complicated new world but there remain some places which remind us of a more simple way, reset priorities and offer us rest after a dirt road adventure. We need Maine camps and guides more than ever.
Camps and their guides are reasons to revisit threadbare DeLormes, discover new townships, learn local histories and understand all they provided through industry and invention. Even for visitors uninterested in a bear hunt or Katahdin summit, they are base camps for a good walk, river trip or scenic drive to the world’s best lobster roll, then possibly your all-time best afternoon nap under a shady hemlock. I’ve been visiting Maine for 40 years and I assure you there is no rest like sleeping through a morning bass bite in a century old timber cabin by a lake. Throw in a crackling wood stove and you might just sleep through a shore lunch. Maine camps help remove us from our daily lives and stresses, replacing bad energy with challenges and lessons.
Maine Camps and Guides can take us back to peaceful times
As our young but aging nation stretches, I find it ever more critical to have these places where cell phones are good only for capturing moments, where people come together from different geographical, social or political places to share daily meals at one long table with camp owners and their children. We need camps where neighbors walk in for coffee at all times, cookies for sports’ lunches warm in Home Clarion ovens and by the end of the week, someone will absolutely call you darlin’.
North of Old Town, a Maine Guide friend recently struggled to get his neighbor’s generator running, which helps power batteries when sun avoids her solar panels. If their charge gets too low, the system shuts down as a type of internal protection. Maine camps and guides keep us from running down as well. While we’re napping in Jackman or trolling and praying on Kennebago, our personal batteries appreciate a recharge. With the right guide, you can, as Robert Hunter wrote, “listen to the music play.” That music comes from finches, cardinals, and red tail hawks, loons calling, (something one never forgets or properly imitates) and guitars played by campfires. Guides introduce us to fireflies courting with nightly theatrics in grassy camp front yards and between outstretched arms of stoop shouldered river birches, reminding us to also look up, to absorb a galaxy of Maine stars, globetrotting aircraft and steady satellites. My friend restarted that generator, because she needed power and Maine Guides are a wealth of daily life skills.
Somehow, schools today don’t teach how to tie a bowline, change tires, patch a weary canoe or build a rainy day fire, let along light a gas pilot. Personally, I need to know guide skills and common sense are surviving this fragmented world, that people can still clear camp coffee with cold water and boil an egg in a paper cup by a fire. When we step into a Maine Guide’s sleek Scott canoe, we can balance that coffee or untangle poppers while they lead us to their favorite cribs with smallmouth on the backsides. Guides know water temperatures, depths, flow rates, which bugs live where and how big largemouth are holding under deadfalls after heavy summer rains. Guides can lead conversations about conservation, encouraging us to use circle hooks or trim barbs to ease removal, carefully release fish and keep only what we absolutely will eat. They assure leery sports that it’s fun to fish along the Golden Road without that precious cell service because they are trained, patient and aware. They can also leave us alone, to fish, hike or hunt in silence, something equally as important.
Fish and people are pressured these days
Fishing the Royal or trolling Cupsuptick Lake is not a total escape, however. Parked recently at a remote boat ramp, I saw a rusting pickup truck with bumper sticker obscenities directed at a president, which is in terribly poor taste and does nothing to help our country change. I will bet, however, that we could have had a good chat about fishing and where he got his boat. As life gets busier and time more invaluable, a week by a lake or a day roll casting for 8” natives enlightens and recharges us, restores some balance and reminds us that our country was built on the backs of hard working people with important skills and different personal paths. A few days in a Maine camp or with a Maine Guide won’t cure our national aches but they will remind us that common ground still exists and for me, it’s covered with maple and birch, smells like Christmas and is worth every mile and dollar to enjoy.