As I contemplated this post, I channeled the words of the famous T-I-double-Guh-Er who oft departed with the words of wisdom — TTFN, “Ta Ta for Now”. It pretty much sums up my too short yet fruitful stay in Maine.

Depending on how you count, I called Maine home for the past four years, but as I was looking for that perfect spot, I preceded the formal move with seven years of wandering the coast, creeks, rivers, lakes and mountains in the Pine Tree State before settling on a quaint little town on the banks of the Piscataquis River, Dover-Foxcroft.

It’s true. My travels took me throughout the state. I looked at housing in Dexter, St. Albans, Ripley, Garland, Newport, Casco, Long Lake, China Lake, Vassalboro, Harrington, Cherryfield, Wiscasset, Westport, Lubec (easternmost town in the USA), Island Falls, Pembroke, Madawaska, Ashland, Bryant Pond, Rangely, and even another property in DoverFoxcroft before choosing my new digs at The Mayo Mill.

I made the most of my time here. I intentionally visited each of the 16 counties in the state along with some sightseeing and some good eats Androscoggin (Auburn/Lewiston, photo ops of the bridge separating the two towns, dinner at Mac’s Downeast Seafood); Aroostock (Allagash, just because, dessert at Two Rivers Lunch); Cumberland (Portland, downtown and waterfront stroll, lunch at DiMillo’s on the Water floating restaurant); Franklin (Berlin/Weld/Tumbledown Mountain, trail hike, skipped dinner); Hancock (Hancock, Frenchman Bay Conservancy and the reversing falls, dinner at the Salt Box); Kennebec (State Capitol Augusta, stroll along the riverfront watching the sturgeon jumping out of the Kennebec River, visiting Old Fort Western, chowing down at Riverfront Barbeque and Grille); Knox (Port Clyde, visit to Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum– cover shot for Wisdom From a Father — dinner at the Yardbird Canteen); Lincoln (Southport, coastal experience, dinner at Robinson’s Wharf); Oxford (Dixfield, walked across the bridge and along the Androscoggin River bank on both sides, dinner at the quirky Front Door Cafe): Penobscot (Lincoln in November, which was gearing up for its annual Festival of Lights Parade, part of the Lincoln Tree Lighting event, fish and chips at Gillmor’s Restaurant); Piscataquis (Guilford/Abbot, stopped at a little park and boat launch to wander and wonder at the rolling Piscataquis River despite a misty morning, picked up a meatball parmigiana sandwich and an overfilled raspberry croissant from Abbott Village Bakery and Cafe); Sagadahoc (Hockomoc Bay, serendipitous lunch at Ship’s Chow Hall); Somerset (Rockwood/Greenville, sightseeing around Moosehead Lake just watching the snowmobilers dashing on the frozen pond, the fishermen with their poles dunked through a hole in the ice, the fishing huts, some skaters near the shore and even an impromptu hockey game, enjoyable dinner at The Birches, punctuated by the sound of snowmobiles on the lake [very dangerous after dark, I am told], the crackling and smell of wood in the fireplaces and and the chatter from the lounge); Waldo (Belfast, expansive harbor at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River off Penobscot Bay, Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House); Washington (Lubec, sunrises and the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Helen’s Restaurant in Machias); and York (Cape Neddick, Nubble Lighthouse, dinner at Fox’s Lobster House). Yeah, I’ve seen Maine bathed in summer sunshine, bundled in winter white, covered with budding green in spring and vibrantly dressed in fall classic splendor. Each venture was an adventure. Each stop was special. I also witnessed Maine’s other two seasons first hand — Mud (March-April/May) and Black Fly (May-June/July).

I included the state for one of our grandkid excursions, whale watching in Boothbay Harbor, a day the Adventureland, some hiking and plenty of swimming while camped at Balsam Woods in nearby Abbot. I saw more movies in these past four years at the Center Theater than I had ever seen in my lifetime. I witnessed my first real rodeo (yeah, right here in Maine!); finally got to see Jersey Boys live and on stage in Portland with dinner at Grace; published and launched three books — Heaven Shining Through, My Name Is Same … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through, and Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life. I’ve been hosted at a number of book signings. I formally taught two writing classes (the first drew four participants and the second 10 and spawned a writer’s group!). I’ve done addition pulpit supply. While commuting back and forth to New York, I often went through Canada and hit customs at Madawaska, Jackman and Coburn Gore on the Maine border and Thousand Island Bridge in New York.

There were a couple of regrets — better termed things I didn’t cross off my proverbial bucket list — but, as they say, regrets they have been few. I did not get to see a Northern Lights display. I never took a Katahdin Cruise on Moosehead Lake. I never went back to hike to Tumbledown Pond. I never made it to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory (the tallest observatory bridge in the United State — 420 feet in elevation) nor the Maynard F. Jordan Observatory in Orono (astronomy planetarium). Outside Maine, I failed to drive up Mount  Washington in the White Mountains in neighboring New Hampshire or visit Prince Edward Island, Canada. Other than those, I’ve hit most of the state’s attractions.

I felt the peace and tranquility of Maine from the moment I first spotted it’s welcome sign so many years ago, “Maine — The way life should be”. I embraced it as the perfect transition for workplace to retirement.

I became active at Dover-Foxcroft (ME) United Methodist Church, where I was named a co-lay leader and sometimes pulpit supply {something I enjoy doing}. I was also named church representative on the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard board, dealing with the ever-growing food insecurities in Piscataquis County ( I started attending TIP (Thriving in Place) meetings to deal with local issues of interest to seniors, which morphed into Senior Commons involvement at the newly refurbished Commons at Central Hall ( I have also been a fairly regular fixture at community events such as the weekly community dinner (the food {yes, I don’t have to cook!} is always tasty and the fellowship is special), Community Cafe and AARP Coffee Talk. I also rejoined Kiwanis International, Dover-Foxcroft Chapter. As president-elect I was expecting to assume the president’s role this year, but had to renege {another regret, although I know Pat Hinckley will do a great job — much better than I would have}. Each organization brought new friendships — deep, lasting friendships that will remain in my heart for the rest of my days.

I brought Karen in her urn with me to Maine and she occupied a special place on a special table overlooking the river. When we got to the apartment, I carried her across the threshold … just like I did when we graced our first apartment together. This was a little easier. You should have seen the small landing to that first attic apartment.

We toured the apartment together — the gleaming, new kitchen with an island separating it from the living room, flanked by two bedrooms.

And I “heard” her voice. “Put the couch over there.” “No, change that. Put it on the other wall and the television over there.” “Don’t get new furniture. Old stuff — our stuff — would fit in better.” “You need to get a rug. {Of course, she didn’t specify what kind of rug, like I know rugs.} “Don’t forget the Precious Moment collection.” “And accessories.” “Don’t forget” plates and knives and forks and spoons and kitchen utensils … and food … and cleaning supplies {who would have thought of those?} … and shower curtains … and towels and wash cloths … and … and … and … It was like starting a new life! Oh, wait. We did.

And I heard her a couple of months ago. “It’s time to go. Live your life. Visit the kids/grandkids/great-grandkids.” And so we packed up and hit the road — both of us.

I always felt God was with me in Maine, especially after taking the step to lease. I would often wake up to a sunbeam splashing through the clouds onto the peaceful river and reflecting into the apartment. I know the rainbow is God’s covenant, but I see His awesome beauty and power in the sunbeams and outlines. That’s my sign of God’s presence in my world.

As I drove down Route 95 last night, rays of sun peeked through the clouds as an eerie sign of God’s approval and as approached the Piscataqua River Bridge at dusk, the clouds were replaced by a relatively clear sky with pale oranges and yellows on the horizon and ribbons of pastel pink tinting the few clouds.

My Maine memory folder is overflowing in my mind. And it is very good.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Friendship is like a book. It takes few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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2 Responses to TTFN

  1. When I last took leave of Maine
    I knew I would be coming back,
    this time, God willing, to remain,
    for I’d become a Mainiac.
    I challenge one not to love
    the honest folk, and true,
    and the iron hills above
    that endless ocean blue.
    Let’s not forget the harbour-bars,
    no two are the same,
    and looky here, at the scars
    collected when I fought a dame.
    Yeah, they grow ’em hard up there,
    but she trounced me, fair and square.


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