Unlike the verbal record of these Holy Week walks the images in this series of posts are, with the exception of drawings, this week’s images …
Today I go past Johnny’s Bridge. Where kids once said a man named Johnny was buried in cement. I walked on from the bridge back toward the Gore Road. It’s Easter, day of the new body. While Allen works in the paper mill, I plan a large walk to the end of the Gore and back. The Gore is a triangular piece of land. The road is named for the completion of this triangle. When viewed from above, the geometry isn’t so evident because there are no straight lines in these mountains.
It’s cold, even colder than it was on Maundy Thursday. Wind flows steadily across white pines, sun shines through clear sky. Just before reaching the road again I come before a thin pussy willow shaded by pines. Wind soughs in boughs overhead as I stop to finger the soft gray and white buds of this slender willow. Reminds me more of rabbits’ than cats’ fur. They push out black sheaths from stems of red and olive-green. Other sheaths are still closed. The dainty willow is long with wands, each sparsely budding with furry life—the symbol of Easter, scarcely noticed on this cold raw day of calendar-spring.
I step on the sand shoulder of the Gore Road. The walk to its end and back home again would be six miles. I know this road. We lived here nine months when we first came to Maine, a sort of gestation-period and rough birth. I walked this stretch every day to check for mail at the post office. Just here the pond occasionally slips from sight—low watery places, choked with alders, where I had my first moose encounter. A young moose without antlers. Afterward I wrote a piece about the “wild ass” I’d seen regarding me shyly from the alders.
I’m passing the house we rented then. A chalet on water, some distance back from the road beneath many pines. We first saw it just before Thanksgiving Day, after our brush with…. On one of those dim, rain-promising days. Our travels had been difficult and trying. We were strangers living on our last gift of dollars after brief homelessness. The feast of Thanksgiving celebrated there was suitable to the occasion. Later, when the season changed, we saw our first Maine rainbow from the back door, high over the waters of this north pond.
I walk on, avoiding soft sandy shoulders, keeping to the macadam. Streams pour out of lowering hills above me, seeking their meandering course through low trees toward the pond. I stand by a culvert, watching water of melting snows escape into the pond. Pouring sporadically it ripples—a thick pattern of light and dark in silt. I hear and see water on much of this walk where the road takes me. I leave the shore, and the end of the pond, in one of these ascents. Here’s water: snow pushed back along the roadside by last week’s plowing. It’s more a conglomerate of gritty dirt, like concrete, compacted of gravel and ice. Something a man named Johnny could have been buried in.
At the top of the hill I stop to study a large maple, newly fallen by some saw. The circumference is immense. Other maples stand nearby, hoary with coarse bark. Approaching, I see one with four green plastic buckets hung about its great girth. Looking over the yard of the large connected dwelling, I note several maples hung with buckets. A tree thirty years old and ten to twelve inches in diameter will accommodate one sap bucket. Up to four buckets can be added, one for each additional five inches of diameter. It’s possible to over-tap a tree, funneling off too much of the life that brings the maple back from its winter.
This place of big maples was the home of a man who befriended my son when we lived nine months in the chalet by the pond. His name was Mr. Bean, and he has since “crossed over the dark river,” as they said when dwellings were first connected and so extended. Such friendliness on the part of some we encountered here eased the rough birth and kept the spiritual life of our family from being over-tapped.
An avalanche of entries this week, episodically posting my Holy Week walks as told in “Holy Days and Houses on the Gore Road,” from our Experience in the Western Mountains. Put out by the imprint Resource Publications, they have asked us to paste this notice whenever we quote from the book: Used with Permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers