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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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- I’m a scientist and a Mainer. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration | The Washington Post via Bangor Daily News
- Lipstick on a Health Bill | The New York Times
- As Feds Move Away From Climate Change, Maine and New England Consider Stronger CO2 Caps | Maine Public
- Maine doctors prescribing far fewer opioids, analysis at county level shows | Portland Press Herald
- Here to There and Back: The AT | Maine Public
Tag Archives: Fort Kent
Aroostook County keeps biathlon buzz alive: Organizers of World Cup tour event in Presque Isle, Fort Kent seek status as Olympic Training Center | Maine Sunday Telegram
WORLD CUP NO. 8
WHERE: 10th Mountain Ski Center, Fort Kent
THURSDAY: Men’s 10K sprint
FRIDAY: Women’s 7.5K sprint
SATURDAY: Men’s 12.5K pursuit and women’s 10K pursuit
SUNDAY: Men’s 15K mass start and women’s 12.5K mass start
[We used to drive through Wallagrass and Soldier Pond on our way to Fort Kent, Daigle and other St. John Valley communities to visit family. — KM]
Rain showers soaked much of Northern California the other day. It was not enough to cause serious problems beyond localized street flooding, but it was a nice, steady, wet change of pace for a region that regularly sees summertime temperatures above 100 degrees.
The showers washed away dust and soot and grime and brought with it that cleansing smell that comes with the first real rainfall of the year, the smell that reminds us of childhood things. It permeated the air for much of the day.
It was nice.
It was refreshing.
And beyond the gray skies, it was illuminating.
Stockton needs a good washing from time to time. Stockton is a dusty, crusty, musty city and dusty, crusty, musty cities need washing on a regular basis. Otherwise, they turn to dry silt and blow away on the winds of indifference.
The water gurgled through the drainpipe just outside an opened balcony door and the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves just beyond was audible. A ping, ping, ping came from the stove vent as the drops crashed onto the vent’s hood on the roof.
Cars splashed by up and down the street. With ample time since the last major rainfall, oil and dirt had built up on the street surface. California drivers very likely had forgotten that the water from first real rainfall of the year loosens that oil and dirt from the street, causing slippery driving conditions.
And many people abandoned outdoor adventures for the comfort of homes and HD televisions and the National Football League or a movie classic.
The rain reminded me of my childhood spent in the North Woods of Maine. Why wouldn’t it? Mark Twain – or someone else – wrote about the weather:
“If don’t like the weather in New England, wait 15 minutes. It’ll change.”
Or something similar, at least.
The point is that New England weather – especially in Maine – is a fickle thing and occasionally a very harsh thing.
In the North Woods of Maine there is plenty of precipitation and there is much time spent bundled up against the weather – rain, sleet, wind, snow, and more snow. As a child growing up in Aroostook County, it seemed that rain came nearly any time of the year, even in winter if it was warm enough to turn snow and ice to sleet and then rain.
Despite being well-suited for the weather, Mainers make a sport of grumbling about it. If it rains too much, it’s bad. If it rains too little, it’s bad. If the wind blows, curses!
But we worked in it and we played in it and the forest grew green because of it. And rivers flowed and lakes rose because of it.
And the National Weather Service and the local weathermen – they were all weathermen then – were slandered and their manhood questioned whether their daily weather prognostications were correct or not.
I recall a childhood memory in which my mother is driving my sister and me north to Eagle Lake or Fort Kent or Saint Francis to visit family. Outside the very bright red Chevrolet Cheville it is raining – the windshield wipers slapping back and forth and the wheels splashing along the roadway. My sister and I are arguing over which of us will be Mom’s “co-pilot” on the trip north, along the way imagining that the car is a plane and the ornamental buttons on the passenger door and dashboard are plane controls.
Truly, neither my sister nor I were “pilots” of any kind; at the time, our young legs could not reach the car’s floorboards.
Later on, in a newer memory, I recall camping on the shores of Perch Pond with the rain coming down hard for what seemed like days. Part of the memory includes playing games in the Cormier’s sprawling family tent, part of it includes being perpetually damp, part of it recalls the thin thudding sound the raindrops made as they hit the canvas tents, part of it recalls the heavy, clinging, soaked clothing.
A memory from about the same time recalls a trip into the woods to pick fiddleheads, raindrops hitting the hood of a windbreaker I wore for the trek into the woods not far from Portage Lake. The forest was drenched. Each step brushing against the ferns and grass and small trees brought an even more thorough drenching, soaking shoes and socks and pant legs and the human legs under those pant legs.
I remember watching the splash the drops made – millions upon millions of them – in the nearby river and the sound of the drops slapping the trees above and the accumulated water tumbling from saturated leaves to the saturated ground beneath. It seemed prehistoric.
Still later, while in high school, we practiced soccer in the rain – and occasionally in the snow. The rain then did not seem to cleanse things, but to make them simply sodden and muddy and heavy from the weight of the water. Soccer shoes and socks became heavy, sweatpants and sweatshirts clung to shivering teen boys, and baseball caps worn in practice and on the sideline in a futile attempt to ward off the rain became soaked. Water and mud and grass stains infused in the clothing and the body by the rainfall.
Other memories of New England rain abound, of course, because rain is so much a part of the history of the place – the forest and the land and the water and the air – and of the people.
But rain washes away dirt and grime and occasionally flushes away things made by man and Mother Nature, but rarely does it wash away memories.
After all, memories are merely refreshed by a good rainfall on a fall day.
I’m not sure how I missed this part of the NPR package on Interstate 95 the other day (Paying a local price for I-95’s global promise | NPR), especially since it includes information on where I grew up. I was born in Fort Kent, traveled to Caribou to eat and shop, and drove those roads in my late teens and early 20s.
Extending Interstate 95 to Fort Kent or Madawaska would be good for the region to get goods and services that far north and products back south, but the comments point out that there are other pressing needs as well.
UPTON — Aldro French peels off his shirt and saunters toward the edge of the aptly named Rapid River.
Kicking off his giant-sized, baby blue Crocs, he stands shin-deep in the water.
“I haven’t done this all summer,” says French with a slight grin, just before shallow-diving into the current.
French takes a few long, Australian-crawl swim strokes, pulling his head up once to look at the churning rapid below. He gives one strong scissors-kick, sliding head-first into the full force of the river’s current, arms forward, belly down like an otter.
French is barely visible as he shoots through the boiling turbulence and into a pool of slower-moving water below. He comes up slicking his silver hair back with his hand and smiling as he breast-strokes slowly to the side of the pool and the rock ledge leading to it.
A pair of helmeted and life-jacketed kayakers, who were playing in the whitewater, sit in their boats, nose clips on, watching. They shrug at each other as if to say, “What was that?”
French, 68, has lived on the Rapid River for 52 years. The waterway is literally in his backyard, and each bend and rapid are as familiar to him as an old friend’s face. He is the curator and caretaker of Forest Lodge. The lodge was the home of author Louise Dickinson Rich and the inspiration for her novel “We Took to the Woods.”
On the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of dozens of sites along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Click on the link for the rest of this story by Scott Thistle in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
It’s always nice to be considered the “friendliest” person on the block. It may be even more compelling to be from the friendliest town in a state.
Well, I’m not from that town, but I was born there. I was born in a hospital that was on a hill overlooking the river that served as the U.S.-Canada border as it flowed through Fort Kent, Maine, one of two cities in the Pine Tree State to claim the title of “The Friendliest Town in Maine.” The other is Wells, on the coast.
At least, that’s according to the DownEast.com trivia question today.
What two towns both lay claim to the title “The Friendliest Town in Maine?”
Fort Kent and Wells
Fort Kent is the city in which my parents went to high school, as I recall, and pretty much was the center of my early years. I recall driving from Portage to Fort Kent to visit relatives and friends and for family functions, to shop, and for medical care – dentist, doctor, and optometrist.
And while our family visited Wells when I was a child and we had a very lovely stay, I do have relatives living in Fort Kent to this day and I most certainly have to give Fort Kent the edge when it comes to friendliness.
Well, perhaps not the agents at the border crossing. They’re not always that friendly.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Aroostook County has been selected to host both North American stops of the 2011 Biathlon World Cup, an event that draws Olympians and other top athletes from around the globe.
Fort Kent’s 10th Mountain Lodge had already been selected as one of the nine sites for the Biathlon World Cup, which combines cross country skiing with rifle marksmanship.
But on Tuesday, the International Biathlon Union announced that the second North American stop would be held at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle during the first week of February.
The back-to-back stops on the World Cup circuit mean that Aroostook County will have roughly 10 days in the limelight in an event that draws tens of thousands of spectators, not to mention tens of millions of television viewers in Europe.
Click on the link for the rest of Kevin Miller’s story in the Bangor Daily News.