With the arrival, departure, and re-arrival of the first actual spring weather this season we are pushing past Earth Day in a frenzied rush for summer cookouts, long days at the beach and our inevitable first sunburns. To the Ojibwe in the Lake Superior Basin May is known as Zaagibagaa-Giizis or the Flower Budding Moon and to the ancient Greeks it was the time of Maia, one of the seven Pleiades who had a wedding more famous than Harry and Meghan’s. Slight digression: While I don’t know the exact date of the union of Maia and Zeus, I do think that the staging of the ‘royal’ wedding on the same day as your author’s is a sign that there is still some lingering competitiveness and insecurity from across the pond. I hereby extend an olive branch to Harry and Meghan to bury the sibling rivalry between the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes and give them my blessing to also get married on May 19th and that I will unfortunately will not be able to attend their wedding. Digression over.
I see this great state of ours like a birthday cake for us outdoors folk. The periphery is all excitement and obvious goodness where instead of candles, sugar- laced icing and colors we have the great salt lake to the east, the endless woods to the north, the mountains to the east and to the south, well, we’ll just leave that for later…Past the candy coated shell of Maine you get to the substance, the part that takes closer inspection and investigation to discover what you’re looking for, but I have found that all it takes is a little tenacity and adventurousness, a few inquiring emails and a Maine Gazetteer to uncover the less obvious but sometimes more rewarding outdoor opportunities that lie buried in the cakey center of Midcoast Maine. Writer’s Note: I was going to go with the mullet analogy of ‘party on top, business up front’ to describe Maine but I guess cake just sounded better.
In the last few weeks I have discovered for myself a few places that are by no means secrets and are readily represented on maps and online but that are off the tourist truck routes and therefore see less traffic (if any) this time of year. After attending the World Fish Migration Day event at the Sheepscot General Store in Whitefield last week we loaded up a couple vehicles and took a small herd of little ones for a day hike to the Trout Brook Preserve in Alna. What I took home from this little gem, besides some wet kid’s clothes from a first (accidental) swim of the year, was that this area is loaded with easily accessible public natural areas hidden among the working class landscape and rural agriculture that fills in the map around these here parts.
We all hear the calls of the wild places that form the icing around the core of this state and I too will head to the West Branch of the Penonbscot to fish, to Baxter for some late season hiking and to the ocean for my dose of pensive gazing and obligatory rock hucking. But what I am equally excited about this summer is exploring my backyard, the day hikes around this area and the chance to spend more time outdoors and less time behind the windshield. If you need more advice on where to play local stop by Maine Sport Outfitters and hit up the staff for the 411 or swing over to their web site and pop the ‘explore’ tab for more info. Deep Breath. Summer is coming. Cheers to Harry and Meg.
Paul Sveum, a former Maine Sport Outfitters employee, is a Registered Maine Guide, Fly Fishing Guide, Bushcraft & Survival Instructor, and a blogger…among many other things.