Friends, here’s an opportunity for us both, ongoing till the end of May. Wipf & Stock is offering a free ebook at their site for the latest in our Maine Metaphor series, Visiting the Eastern Uplands. Visiting Aroostook. To grab the ebook–the page is HERE. At the shopping cart checkout, paste in the code word UPLANDS . Make certain you are clicking on the ebook button, not that of the hardcopy. They both have the same price (sans coupon).
What is it about that word? Aroostook. “The County,” we call it in Maine. When you think of the State of Maine, maybe the quaint or upscale coastline comes to mind, ragged glacier-carved cliffs, peninsulas and islands in the Gulf of Maine. Lobsters, fisheries, boats.
Or maybe it’s mountains, the Western Mountains where we live and snowshoe. Where skiing, hunting, fishing, hiking and getting lost in the woods all come to mind. The terminus of the Appalachian Trail is at the top of our Greatest Mountain, Katahdin.
What we don’t think of is farmland, homegrown nourishment, Canadian borderlands, and …the Amish. Also, we don’t think of Ohio.
I recall my astonishment the first time I saw an Amishman in Maine. He was standing on the mezzanine in L.L. Bean’s, famous outfitter of outdoorsmen and women. This anomaly, wearing signature Amishman’s hat and beard, stood quietly observing. Everything. Everything in the hustle of shoppers shopping. I stopped shopping, gazing at him in his survey. The difference in our gazes? Mine, I’m sure, was one of astonishment. His was not.
A word is a tiny thing, a written word.
What mystery is housed in the word forest? Evergreen boughs upturned in mist, crowned with cones. And breathing leaves. Try the word Story itself.
Via Middle English, Norman French, Latin (historia), and Greek: Wisdom. In story we have the source and house of our imaginations.
Now try. The County. Aroostook.
I sat in the Ohio kitchen with books spread out, having just read a word. I said the word aloud. Someone little called. A door whanged. I stood automatically, walked three steps, reached up and got out peanut butter. There was white cold milk in the refrigerator, and soft bread speckled with cracked wheat on the counter. The word Aroostook was thickening against the roof of my mouth.
It’s been years, but that’s how I remember it. I’d like to go there. However, driving the Town Road today, my spouse Allen asks, “Why Aroostook? Why is it so important to you?”
The word must be highly selective.
My words now were purely explanatory: about that Ohio kitchen twelve years behind. About the endless prehistoric forest in some corner of a distant northern state. About that forest’s ablation into a sea of pine stumps; each five, six, or seven feet in diameter. And of how potatoes now grew in their stead. Aroostook was now an aisle of civilization bordering a rolling plain of farms, edging, in turn, a great industrial north woods filled with thin trees. And I had been listening to its story.
Aroostook, I said, is the mystique of exploring Aroostook.
What I did not say was that I explore words, search out their sounds, meanings and mysteries. Use them to evoke more mystery. I write words because I am called by the Word.
Used with permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers
I must mention that sometimes the wrong button is clicked at the publishers’ site. Make certain you are clicking on the ebook button, not that of the hardcopy. They both have the same price (sans coupon). To get the free ebook–the page is HERE. At the shopping cart checkout, paste in the code word UPLANDS. This will get the free ebook, offer ongoing till the end of May. Thank you!!