Easter Sunday going home on the Gore Road

By the pond

By the pond


Now the road is sinking down toward a glacially carved valley, mute and somber collection of browns, overarched with blue. The long descent is daunting. I hesitate inwardly while keeping my legs in a forward motion downward. Descent, in this tired stiff body, on sore tendons, is little to complain of. It’s the return up steep hills I resist.

Then I remember the esker. Thinking now that I might write about this Easter trek, I decide that I want that esker in my experience.


Looking out past lingering trees, I spy a dark mountain across the glacial valley. Have reached the stage of descent from which the mountain appears powerfully—high, strong, bleak. It intrigues to examine the change in a mountain’s stature … depending upon one’s position on an opposite slope. When I am on top of a neighboring mountain, its opposite seems not high but equal with my position. When I’m below the midpoint the mountain opposite shrinks, until finally, reaching the bottom, I see it is but a low hill on the horizon.

Now, descending, I look out. There runs the torturous meandering stream of the glacial valley, full of deposits covered with brown matted meadow grass. This stream has eroded the outside of its own curves, sending deposits downstream to the inside curves, making this stream’s fertile valley out of its surrounding mountains. And so it goes, while the stream flows. And there, rising in the midst of the valley is the geological monument: a long sinuous esker, the ancient remains of deposits from an under-glacier river. When the glacier arced powerfully over these hills a river flowed inside it, hidden; leaving stratified deposits of sand and gravel out of the glacier—also long and sinuous—over the course of millennia.

Trying to grasp some idea of the esker’s height, I note its mighty crown and pines for comparison. The mature trees crowning it appear almost coequal with the esker’s height. A satellite dish, partly hidden in pines, reminds me that someone lives there. How sensible and enriching it would be to live on an esker. Eskers in Maine are doubly rich. In sand and gravel deposits able to provide an income from mining, in its trees yielding timber wages. With your cabin on top, and provision hunkering like long arms beneath, you might rest in retirement as our friend Harley was able to do. Harley, the mechanic who lived in a connected dwelling and tried to teach us ice-fishing when we lived in the chalet.

pencil pine

pencil pine


I’m stopped by the wind before reaching the floor of the valley—roaring, chilling me mightily. But I may stop now because I’ve seen the esker, provision left by the monstrous and crushing ice. One could not imagine let alone believe in glaciers—if they weren’t known from evidence. I stand looking out at its evidence, this kind geological provenance and providence.

The Gore Road meets another road there below to make that angle in the third side of the triangle of a gore. Three angles to make a single form. At that point the esker is interrupted by a great breach. (I wonder—could the meadow’s little meandering stream have ablated such a great esker! …?) From this vantage I note a house, dwarfed by distance and by its nearness to the esker. It sits almost in the breach. The house is a connected dwelling, but it does the rhyme one better: there are five buildings conjoined, painted red and crisp white. Even its barn is dwarfed by the glacier’s mighty gift. But I find it providential, that meeting of forms below: the esker, the triangle’s completion and the esker’s interruption—the connected dwelling placed just there.

One looks for connections and associations when writing creatively … or when making promises to One’s disciples. For the odd element which ties things together. I once lived on this road. Temporarily. We celebrated Thanksgiving here, Maundy Thursday, Godly Friday. And Easter.

white pine pencil

white pine pencil



An end 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

2 responses

  1. I didn’t know what an esker was until reading this. Now I’m happy to think of a river flowing deep in the heart of a glacier. And now only (but magnificently) the river’s deposits remain. Kind of–this is a little unsettling–as if the only thing that was left of our blood’s flow were the calcium deposits and other things that contribute to hardening of the arteries! Ew. Unsettling thought.

    Nicer is the thought of how the mountain grows and shrinks in size depending on where you view it from. And is a pencil pine a pine that’s drawn with a pencil? Or one from which pencils are made? I wonder.

    I hope you had a good Easter–ours was good. The single liturgical thing I remember was that our priest sang in plainsong about how the Easter candle was made from beeswax and we’re thankful for the bees, and I thought, yes, definitely.

    (I still haven’t blogged about the conveyances one takes in journeys to the realms of heaven or hell… I don’t know when it might happen, but I know one thing–when I read those pieces you mentioned, I will write you a letter with my thoughts.)


  2. that will be an amazing letter. most certainly blogg-able amazement…

    i’m hoping, also, to visit all live journal friends this week!

    the eskers are something, yes. this one is part of a sinuous tall esker running like a spine through the hills. don’t how it can, competing with the mts. but it does, going maybe a hundred plus miles in this western part of Maine. there’s one Mainers call The Airline, that is, they call a road running on the whale’s back, as these are also known. at least from bangor eastward, rte. 9.

    the liturgy of bees! but of course.

    bless you! 🙂


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