Water sounds are grand, don’t you think? As coffee bubbles in the maker, I like hearing water a-boil in the tea kettle. It cheers me to heat the cup with water from the kettle before pouring coffee into it. I like the ripple-running of water in the brook at the edge of the road. And not far from the Appalachian Trail, in deep wilderness northward, the Swift River flows out of Swift River Pond in Township E, on about the same latitude as the southern tip of Mooselookmeguntic Lake (in the next town over, Rangeley Plantation). But here in (pictured) Byron you find Coos Canyon, with this flowing and falling. Swift enough sometimes to rush gold out of hiding. There is a history of gold panning/finding here.
I read one of the North Country Press’s Maine-related books–published in 1990, by Robert Froese, playing on the Gaia hypothesis. Slow of pacing, science fiction. Maine science fiction?
The explorer’s dream of Norumbega (as Maine was once known) is part of Maine’s history; a mistake thought likely to have proceeded from copyists making maps of exploration based on those composed by cartographers in Nuremberg, Germany. But Norumbega became the fabled land of gold somewhere up the Penobscot River in Maine. Fabled land that never was… but somehow still exists in a mythic and historic imagination.
I step onto the edge of this earthy field. A few potatoes lie here and there. Some have been smashed by the mechanical harvester, but others are still good and could be gleaned. I stoop to steal a couple. They are buff-colored, dimpled with textured skin, rough beneath my thumb. Standing here with the Aroostook wind blowing across me, across the fields, I’m shivering.
I look out into the wind toward the spread patchwork of fields. The fields surrounding are dug up, brown but crisscrossed with green—the boundaries of other fields defined in trees. There in the distance is a tiny grouping of harvester and truck, appearing motionless, going about the ponderous mechanical business of gathering tubers. There, high schoolers stand on the rumbling platform, slinging rotten spuds and rocks from conveyors. It’s all too small for me to see distinctly and I don’t see the people: I see machines.