Another Maine Metaphor is coming out, this one with a new geographic focus, Maine’s eastern uplands, a construct from my Maine undergraduate studies, in the late 1980s as a nontraditional student. But today I’m posting about a neighboring town and author, in part because of personal connections with the town. The town is Mexico, Maine.
You read that right. Mexico, Maine. Maine is more than half the geographic area of New England, and so far there is only a beginning immigrant quantity of Mexican-Americans in the White- Anglo-Saxon Protestant-founding of New England, USA. I’m seeing none at all in this part of the Western Mountains of Maine.
So, Mexico Maine? —White Maine? But the mill towns of Mexico and Rumford (over the river) had been home to immigrants from early days of the mill’s founding by Hugh Chisholm in the late 1800s. In those days it was woodland/farmland but possessed of the greatest national waterfalls east of Niagara — where Hugh Chisholm came from on hearing of these remote woodlands and the great unharnessed falls.
When we first drove into Mexico in our secondhand patched together 12-year-old gas hogging Buick, we saw the mill right off, of course. It was almost the whole reason we’d come.
We are askew. There’s a lot going on, caring for an injured relative in a smallish log cabin on-the-grid. Daily life looks different. So right now, in snatches, I’m reading Louise Dickinson Rich‘s We Took to the Woods, one of my favorite Maine books. This is a good book, and it’s marked, plenty of marginalia from previous readings. Here’s my note on the title page, in pencil: “see p. 131-32 for the heart of it — what she has to say about their life in the woods.” I haven’t looked at that yet for this blogging. I began reading all over again this time from the beginning where she describes how she came to the woods 20 years before, one teacher among a group of such hikers (along with a guide). And how she came to write the book in 1942, living off-the-grid.
This is a (twin) town of several lived in on our Maine adventure, this one suggested as a possibility for us. We lived first in Mexico, Maine. (Yes!) Beside this town where jobs might conceivably be found to support our household should one appear. A household did in fact appear.
Here I am with my gnarly friend. Can you tell which is me, and which the tree?
Went into the woods “scoping it out” for the snowshoeing — when the hoped-for time comes. So friendly in freshly fallen leaves of yellow and red. And then there’s the fleeting stream alongside. I wear hunter’s orange. Most people do, even on roads, walking the sandy shoulder. It’s bird season so all you need’s the hat — on my walk, an orange knit stocking-cap.