I just spent a week in rural Maine. Most people, if they have been to Maine at all, will have trek in as far as Bar Harbor (and Acadia National Park) or the outlets in Freeport.
But not the Bentleys. My relatives gather in Maine every couple of years, every time one of the previous generation turns 50. Eight years ago, when I had just graduated from college, we gathered on Moosehead Lake to celebrate my fatherís half-century. This summer, we were celebrated 50 years for my Dadís sister Ellen. My girlfriend Lisa agreed to come along and participate in the Bentley event. We took a series of cabins on the western shore of East Grand Lake, near Danforth. On the other side of the lake was Canadian soil, the province of New Brunswick. Regardless of which country you were in (and border conditions were pretty lax, in spite of the current (yet again) orange ìhomeland securityî alert) it wasnít so much civilization as wilderness. As we drove in (Lisa + my dad, step mom, brother Scott, and sister Alison) we saw a moose grazing in the swamp on the side of the road. It was the first of several excellent wildlife encounters in an area both rich in wildlife and deficient in people. We also saw weasels, bald eagles, hummingbirds, fish, snakes, crayfish (caught by my nephew Hunter), and the wildest beast of all, Zoe, the bichon frise owned by my Uncle Gary and Aunt Andrea.
The week was defined by swimming, boating, fishing (on the part of my brother Connor, nephew Hunter, and uncle Pat), reading, talking, and eating. I interviewed my aunts and uncles about the semi-mythic Uncle Jack, in preparation for a future essay. I snorkeled in the lake with Patís dive gear. I read a half-dozen magazines and a couple books. I walked around with Lisa. I talked with my cousins and uncles and aunts.
I was really impressed with how empty Maine is. Lisa and I drove up to Houlton (45 minutes on the road) one day, and encountered a scant ten or so cars. I couldnít believe how light the traffic was, especially coming from a place like DC. I asked Ellen what it was like to live up there. She said it was great in terms of people and wilderness, but indeed it was rather cold in the winter. I mulled over the possibilities of finding a community college teaching job there.
Got home to DC last night. Glad to be home. In spite of the traffic and terrorism threats, itís nice to sleep in my own bed. Photos are online at http://www.callanbentley.com/maine/index.htm