Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We took to the woods...

It is THAT time of year again!  

The waiting is over, the anticipation of what seemed like an endless winter will conclude with the seasonal opening of our cottage on the midcoast of Maine!  We are the annual population spurt that Mainers  refer to as "rusticators".  But for us, the cottage is more than just a place, it is a state-of-mind.   The many small tasks to be accomplished are less drudgery and more rights of passage.  This time of year always puts me in mind of Louise Dickinson Rich's chronicle of her life in the wilds of northern Maine, WE TOOK TO THE WOODS.  Our "rustic" experience is notably distant from hers but the spirit of the sojourn is so familiar.

In 2013, our "rustic" is defined by no in-home laundry, a septic system plagued by a post-winter high water table, uninsulated walls, no curbside garbage pickup, the family of field mice who somehow found a winter home in my best down jacket hanging in the closet but didn't touch anything else, spotty cellular reception, the absence of high-speed Internet service.  The basics that we take for granted, electricity, hot/cold running water, indoor toilet, etc. would have been unimaginable in the time of Rich.  One thing that Louise had and that we share is the warmth of neighborhood.

Our Maine home is defined at least as much by our friends and neighbors as it is by the natural beauty of the place.  We care for each other in a way that has almost become alien in 21st century America.  And although the last year has wrought so many life-altering changes to our circle, there is a continuity of closeness that binds those of us who remain.  As I write, we are planning to celebrate the 100th birthday of our dear friend Ruth Winter who took her leave of this world and our neighborhood just last fall.  May her soul rest in peace.  Ruth joined my dad, Neal and our dear friend & neighbor Joe Rotondi who also died in 2012.  So, those of us left behind are left to redefine our community...and we will.

Obviously, I am an enthusiastic proponent of this seeming "devolution" and am often asked why.  It almost seems counterintuitive.  How should I respond?  For those who "get it", no explanation is necessary and for those who don't, none would be sufficient.

It is my haven, my sanctuary, my mood-stabilizer, my frequency calibrator, my life barometer, my "factory reset", my True North.

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