Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Way Up North

I am up north.  Way up north.  North in Maine.  So that's north a lot.  This is potato country in Maine.  It's a land of sky and potato fields.  It's a land of hardworking people.  It's a cold, frozen land in the winter, and in much of the fall and spring.  The snows in Southern Maine have pretty much gone.  But in The County, as Aroostook is called, it is still snow covered.

Today on our way up, we could see Mount Katahdin clearly.  Often it is cloud covered and barely visible.  But today its peak was pristine white surrounded by dark spruce and pine at its base.  It put me in mind of barnacles - but then I am from the coast.  We wanted to stop for a picture, but the lookout road was snowcovered and closed.  Some footprints led up to the overlook.   Earlier someone had decided to park their car on the side of the highway and hike up to get a better look.  We decided not to risk the ticket.  We've seen the mountain before.  I still like to see it though.  It is like looking at the ocean that changes with the sky and seasons - never the same view from day to day.

We kept on riding.  Pippi came with us.  She, unlike Deb Day's Chloe, got to come on this trip.  (The cat is not going to be speaking to us when we get back.)  Pippi is a good rider and doesn't need to have a bathroom break during our 6 hours on the road.  This is fortunate, as I really don't like picking up dog droppings.  We, however, needed to stop twice.  Coffee, bathroom, Monster drink/orange juice, bathroom, no more drinks, no more places to stop, we're there, bathroom.

After being on the road for 6 hours we arrived at our destination: Mapleton, north of Presque Isle, west of Canada, a nice little town, and the town where I first taught school, and where my mother-in-law lives on her own in her cozy home of 60 something years.

We came for a visit to relax, get the computer working correctly again, watch TV, sit a bit, and talk.  We may play Bananagrams, a game we found at BAMS! on our way up.  And tomorrow, for supper, we'll have the sockeye salmon that we bought and packed in ice for the trip.

Time to head home will come too soon.  It's a long ride.  It's a long time between trips. The summer is really the time to do this.  The weather at any other time is too unpredictable.  The whole time we are planning the trip and the entire time we are here, we keep an eye on the weather.

Snow flurries on their way today.
I remember a time, years ago, when we left Mapleton to go home after Thanksgiving, a few snowflakes had started to fall.  My father-in-law said it wouldn't amount to anything.  It was just a flurry.  It would stop very soon.  I looked at the sky, and wasn't so sure about that.  But because we needed to be back for work the next day, we headed for home in the "flurries".  We never did get out of the storm.  It was not a flurry.  You don't need a yardstick to measure flurries.  You don't need to shovel and plow flurries.  This required shoveling and plowing.  This was measurable in feet.  This required x-ray vision and snowshoes.  Cars and tow trucks littered the highway and embankments. We arrived home safe and sound in body, but mentally a wreck.

So we are keeping an eye and ear out when the weatherman speaks for the next few days.  We will plan our trip home accordingly.


  1. You don't write broadly about Maine very much, so I love it when you do, Donna. This is an easy memory that gains tension as you write. The nice drive, sweet dog, snack stops, etc. bring us into a lull, and then you write the other good part about your mother-in-law & helping her & relaxing-just being with family. Then bam, the weather talk starts. And that one line "the summer is really the time to do this." sets up the rest, and I immediately wondered what you were planning to say, etc. Thanks much for the post!

  2. I was in the backseat along for the ride, Donna. I love the county and know Mapleton. We travel through if we visit relatives in Ashland and then go to Presque Isle. I am sure that people reading this got the picture that "The County" is a different world...a throw back in time...just like your piece traveled back to your father-in-law's words and the flurries that were not.

  3. I was just up north this weekend...outside of Millinocket...off the Golden Road...
    beautiful...thanks for taking me back.

  4. I love the way you openend this slice - the use of north in different contexts, syntaxes, was brilliant. I will have to try this! I'm glad you're keeping an eye on the weatherman - and that you know to expect to come home to a cat who is peeved off.

  5. Wow! How many of us are from Maine? How many were in the Writing Project? I live and teach in Brewer,(not quite the other Maine, but almost). We lived in Millinocket quite a few years ago and loved it. No one but a Mainer understands this land, but you did such a great job describing The County. Well done!

  6. You slice seemed calm, relaxing, and I smiled. Then I read about the snow and measuring with a yardstick?! Watching the weather brought out concern and wonder. I do love the pictures. Beautiful description.

  7. I enjoyed the calm way you brought us along on the drive to you mother-in-law's cozy place - full of winter quiet. Thank you for sharing it.


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