Maine Summer

Posted on 09 August 2011

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The view from the kitchen window. Photo by Gayle Potter.

By Everett Potter

I’ve spent the past few weeks lakeside in western Maine, in a cabin — or “camp” in Maine-speak — that dates back to the 1940’s or earlier, slowing down and trying to remove myself¬† — if only temporarily —¬† from the electronic maelstrom that is daily life for many of us.

It’s a place with creaking floors, a stone fireplace and windows that swing inward to open, letting in the great outdoors. That outdoors provides red squirrels chattering noisily on a tree limb and katydids humming their particular white noise at this time of year. At night, it’s the sometimes eerie, occasionally comical cry of the loon, a cry that can reach a hysteric crescendo should something be amiss.

I confess that while there isn’t a tuft of insulation to be found inside my cabin, there is broadband. As a journalist, I am as wired as the next guy. But with the lake shimmering and sending light waves flickering across the beamed ceiling, a cormorant perched on a nearby stone, the hummingbirds that visit almost daily, and the laughter of my daughter as she paddles a canoe to a nearby island for the first time in her eight years, the electronic universe I usually inhabit has some serious competition.


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I don’t tune out and turn out completely. I dip into the world of the internet for moments even as I look forward to plunging into the watery one outside my window. Long swims that leave me limber, exercise that’s about as far from the dull routine of the gym as I can imagine. Then there are those 6:30 am trips onto the lake with a 1950’s thermos and a fly rod in hand, ready for the big one, the small one, any fish that I can coax out of nature and then return to the water.

Days go by. I look at the Blackberry once a day, if that. The computer is closed and after a day or two, becomes a place to stack the books I’m reading.

At night, the light that I seek does not come from Facebook glowing on my computer screen. It’s the sky and the flashes of Northern Lights and the shockingly clear Milky Way that’s we’re privileged to glimpse, some 350 miles north of Manhattan.

I was there during the summer’s highlight, the Perseid mentor showers, which NASA dubbed the celestial event of the year. It happens to fall, if you’ll pardon the expression, on my daughter’s birthday. There’s more than a little poetry in that, since she has the speed and energy of a dozen meteors as she streaks through the cabin, slamming screen doors as they should be slammed in a summer house.

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Maine is an especially good place to unplug. People have time for conversations. I speak with the lady at the town dump as she helps me unload a week’s worth of recyclable from my car. Without electronic prodding, “friending”, or suggestions, I stop to see the Berryman, as I call him. He’s a man in a plaid shirt who makes up in friendliness what he lacks in teeth, selling native strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries as the season progresses. I eat a Shain’s of Maine maple walnut cone while the camp kids swarm under the bug zappers at the ice cream stand at night. There’s no cell service in the middle of town, so these kids have to talk, not text. This seems well within their capability.

No device is responsible for transmitting the smiles, the lone finger raised in greeting from a steering on a narrow gravel road, and the conversations about the seemingly mundane that are no more mundane than what passes for talk in the electronic world: the merits of my new shed, the mysterious feathers we found, my daughter wondering aloud how long it would take an ant to walk to China. They seem a lot more vital than anything you might feel obliged to opine upon in social media. Up here, it’s merely social.

30 Responses to “Maine Summer”

  1. Kevin says:

    Thanks for this beautiful reflection, Everett. Maine is a wonderful place to get away from it all.

  2. Robin says:

    Wish I was there…

  3. Nancy Hercher says:

    Thank you, Everett, for the mini-visit to your beautiful part of the world and a glimpse of Emma’s growing up. We treasure our memories of being there.

  4. Van Herrick says:

    I love the Maine Lakes as well as the Coastline. Can’t wait til I get up there in a few days!

  5. evpotter says:

    Nancy, you will just have to come back. Maybe next summer?

  6. Agatha Capacchione says:

    Gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Nancy Hercher says:

    Would so love to! You write so well. Thank you for taking me out of Kansas regularly with your Travel Report. Gayle’s photos are beautiful.

  8. Tom Walsh says:

    Thank you for bringing back the great memories of Maine.

  9. evpotter says:

    Speaking of “bringing back,” next time it’s the entire Walsh clan that we’re bringing back …

  10. Nathan Rafferty says:

    “People have time for conversations.” So true…

  11. Ellen says:

    Wonderful piece Everett. We hope to visit you again at your beautiful Maine home.

  12. Cris Y~D says:

    Castle Island on Long Pond, Belgrade Lakes, wasour favorite fishing camp for many years. What great memories I have of the early mornings.
    The Girl Scout Camp on Lake Cobbesecontee outside of Augusta, where do you start? My first Camp job, but not my last! Growing up in Maine was the best place to grow…wish I could be there now.

  13. Jason says:

    There is something to be said for going “up to camp”. It seems like we all log on to log out of the rest of our lives. Makes me wish we had a “camp” to go to in the summer.

  14. evpotter says:

    In the meantime, you’re welcome to return as our head counselor, your position is secure, the s’mores sticks at the ready …

  15. Kim McGreal says:

    Everett, what a beautifully written slice of life. I think that I love Maine now even more after reading that. Next summer, we are definitely hooking up. Gayle, those pictures are gorgeous!

  16. David Wilson says:

    everett,
    i love the laid-back life of Maine. Btw, the pictures aren’t coming through on my computer….

    d

  17. Everett, this is why I live in Maine!

  18. Wende says:

    Reminds me of the things I take for granted living and working in western Maine just a half hour from your beloved lake.

  19. Charlene says:

    Beautiful! This is the first thing I read this morning and it will set the tone for the rest of the day for me. Thank you. (Love the photo taken from the kitchen window.)

  20. julie thorner says:

    Everett, what a wonderful piece on the magic of unplugging (mostly) and visiting with others in a small rural setting. could be many places in the beautiful rural areas of so many states. wonderfully written. thanks for sharing.

  21. Joan Scobey says:

    OMG, no wonder you’re not complaining!

  22. Susan H says:

    Sounds Wonderful!

  23. Lorraine Grainger says:

    Ev,

    Just picked up this article now. Maine suits you. This piece is beautifully written and has brought a tear to my eye back here in Ireland. Reminds me of the Beara Peninsula in Ireland where I rent out a home. Before they arrive, guests want to know where they can get internet access. By day 3, they don’t care. Enjoy your time there, building memories for Emma. Gayle’s photos are a good match for your lovely words. Really beautiful piece. Fond thoughts from Ireland.

  24. Diana H says:

    You have beautifully put how most Mainers feel about our state! I love this state and live on 93 acres of mostly woods, a small field and have a mountain behind me…it is my own camp – a 200 year old farmhouse that is happiness in itself, even with all the extra costs for heating and fixing. This isn’t called ‘Vacationland’ for nothing! I just wish I could express as wonderfully as you have what this state means to me and my family.

  25. Kate S says:

    LOVED THIS STORY AND GAYLE’S PHOTOS. SOUNDS GLORIOUS IN EVERY WAY

  26. Sandy D says:

    So enjoyed reading the pleasures of this blog and brought back memories of the home my Dad built in Oquossoc, Maine . . . to relax and enjoy nature at its best and just enjoy life as it should be . . . in Maine . . . thanks for this story and the gorgeous photos . . .

  27. Nancy Hercher says:

    Thank you! Thank you! So wish we could be there again, but I’m glad Leigh & Rick will experience and enjoy all the things you speak of plus the friendship you have. Everyone should have this rejuvenating time to see them through another year. We see pictures of Emma and are amazed at her growing up. How all the experiences she has enrich her life and portend her adulthood! Would love to be around to know her choices. Enjoy!
    Our best
    Nancy and Bill

  28. Lynn Seldon says:

    Great writing, Everett!


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