Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Edmund Ware Smith Book Discussion

Recently we traveled an hour by car, through mists and rain, to get to a book discussion. Hosted by the historical society of the Maine village of Grand Lake Stream, the discussion focused on the works of Edmund Ware Smith (EWS), our favorite Maine woods author.

The visit was well worth the drive through moose territory. When you drive in late afternoon and night time around here, you have to keep a sharp eye out for moose in the road. Unlike most animals, when headlights hit moose eyes, they don't glow - and the dark brown hulk of a moose can be hard to see. So it's a bit risky driving at night on the quiet roads of Downeast Maine.

We arrived safely and found enthusiastic fans of EWS packed into a small room. We sipped mulled cider and discussed his work, his prose and the stories of the author's time in the lakes that surround Grand Lake Stream.

All his works are out of print now, which we all agreed was a shame. They are engaging, beautifully written, charming, funny and poignant. His love of the north woods and the characters in it shines through in every sentence. He brought the area around Grand Lake Stream - all the lakes in the Grand Lake watershed - to life and put them on the map for his generation.

To me, his most iconic essay is the one wrote about the day one of his sons drowned in Sysladobsis Lake (known as "Dobsy" or "Dobsis" for short). It's quite mysterious, this particular essay, and tragic of course. Yet the incident solidified the author's deep ties to the area that would last for the rest of his life. That essay is from his A TREASURY OF THE MAINE WOODS.

Attending the book discussion was a fellow named Harry Bailey, whose great grandfather and grandfather were caretakers at the Dobsis Club where the incident happened. Mr. Bailey passed around a letter from the author to his grandfather, and included in it was a photograph of Mr and Mrs. Smith with their son.

Here is a list of his book-length works. You can find them on e-bay and amazon, and at your local public library. He published many of his essays in national magazines.

 The list above was found on outdoorsportinglibrary.com - it has an excellent account of his life.
The link to the website is here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The storm passing in the night

Last night we could hardly sleep. The still air was saturated with humidity. We noted that it might be the last warm and humid night of the season, but noting this didn't help us. A while later, having never quite fallen asleep, I turned over. Distant lightning lit up the woods like a swarm of papparazi. It flashed again and again, silently, but each time, it lit up the entire sky. The cat watched from the window sill. I wondered what the moose and owls and mice and voles were doing? Were they awake watching, or ignoring it and doing whatever they usually do at night? Finally a distant echo of thunder rolled down the lake. When it grew louder, I got up and shut most windows and unplugged the computer. Then I stood on the porch in the dark. The storm would pass us by, just to the north. The thunder only grew so loud, and the breeze only blew a little. After a couple of perfunctory rain showers, the storm was gone. Then we fell asleep.

A link to the photograph above can be found here..

Friday, September 2, 2011

Amazing hostess gift

Recently we had some friends over for lunch, well, 'dinner', the big meal of the day, at noon. One couple brought a nice bottle of wine, which matched the entree, happily, for I didn't have the right kind in my cupboard.

The other couple, the wife of whom is never to be outdone in the creativity department, arrived with a basket in her hand, saying, "I brought some ladies to tea!" A photograph of the 'ladies' is below. Needless to say, this is about the best hostess gift ever given or received in the State of Maine. Underneath the little plate (the 'tea table') is a jar of home made wild apple sauce. Note the parsley hair, and the little elastics tying the gingham 'napkins'.

Thanks to our lake neighbor Julie who stopped in from a marathon solo kayak voyage and took a picture of it for us.