Maine Journal

Though it’s August, there are intimations of Autumn, some combination of the chewy air, the timbre of rainclouds, sky clarity. Haven’t been so much to this part of Maine. The rocky familiar lands edge with fishing boats and piers is here replaced with vast oceans of trees rolling in receding waves to the vision’s edge.

And hardly hints of that familiar and cliché leaning-close New England quaint, but instead a rugged sense of nowhere and lawless expanse, even if you rationally know that the logging trucks and the paper companies are their own kind of irrefutable capitalist enforcement. ATV guys in camo are friendly behind sports sunglasses, eager to make conversation and fellowship with bicycle travelers on doubletrack that their club maintains. And then the rumpled ground with so much sky overhead, nothing like the cuddle of Vermont or New Hampshire and feeling more like Alaska or Montana.

We’re scouting possibilities for the Eastern Divide Trail, but we’re also elbowing through the jagged cuts and edges of New England’s least corralled emotions. One night camping amidst broken sticks and a clearing that cradles a late sunset, in our tents prickly with the electrical current of our round-the-stoves stories and laughter: we each independently hear the clop, tik, snap of branches, feel the snort and puzzlements then nonchalance of the moose as it passes along the track so close to our tents. Another time it’s rain and shivering, another is pressing upward in a few inches of earthy water to find the beaver dam cause of our wadings.

Logan lowers a bottle down to the river from the bridge to fill it for filtering, like someone who’s heard about fishing but never actually seen it nor knows what it’s for. Fred finally tries to stand up and his legs are unexpectedly long and confusing. Jess and Virginia laugh not unsympathetically, but noting that such wrinkles in spacetime are likeliest to happen in the most grounded places.

It feels so distant from the coast where the ocean’s luminosity blinds one to everything else, where the rocks headbutting waves pretend that they’re the only conceivable solidity. This inland Maine, mosquitoes and a low rippled earth, a thickness, a null-time and none-here, a forward that feels like a happy stuck. This inland Maine is straight lines of riding whose geometric precision makes more salient than it otherwise could be that trees dirt stone are spiritual involutions, inscrutable fractality.