Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Sugarloaf Poem with NO TITLE

It’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s snowing in Lexington Township. It has snowed many times throughout the fall and winter, but we have yet to receive a snowfall that is noteworthy. The weathermen have made several idle threats, but Mother Nature delights in keeping the upper hand, and to date we’ve only received storms that have dumped between one and six inches of the white stuff.

Perhaps this year-end event will be the doozie we’ve all been waiting for. And, perhaps it won’t. One meteorologist forecasted that these mountains where I make my home will be blanketed with up to three feet of snow before the current systems which are chugging my way have exhausted themselves three days hence. I’ve also heard that this first storm will only drop about three inches of frozen precipitation, and the one to follow it will affect mainly Down East Maine, leaving the ski country with little more than a half-foot of new snow.

It’s anyone’s guess, but only the weather forecasters get paid to make them!

I was raised in the foothills of these Appalachians. Sugarloaf Mountain, the ski resort which towers over my back yard, is a critical part of this region’s economy and culture. It’s a well known fact that a ski resort needs snow, and so whatever we receive from these two piggy-backed storms will be welcome.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of being a guest on ‘Watch and Win’, a program on Sugarloaf’s cable television station, WSKI-TV17. It was a first in a year of many firsts for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. For Grumbles and Grins' final posting of the year 2009, I thought I would share the poem which I wrote for the occasion and read on live TV, and which was also broadcast live on the World Wide Web. If you are a local reader, you will recognize many of the places and names and events in the poem. If you aren't, I hope you will enjoy it, anyway!

Here we go!

I grew up in the shadow of a monolith in Maine.
Second to Katahdin, it’s called Sugarloaf, by name.
The mountain had a history: What once was wooded slope
Became a destination far beyond its founders’ hope.

A group of friends led by a guy named Stub, and one called Amos,
Transformed that virgin landscape to a ski resort, now famous!
They cut a trail, and then some more. They added tows of rope.
To ease the hike to summit was well within their scope.

Soon other lifts were added; a T-bar here and there…
It was the dream of skiers, though, to sit upon a chair.
And so, the Mighty Gondola (a word that’s hard to rhyme)
Was built from base to hilltop, eliminating climb.

More trails were cut, a base lodge built, and chairs with funny names
Like ‘Sawduster’ and ‘King Pine’, and ‘Whiffletree’ soon came.
A Village South, a Village East, a Village called ‘The West’
Were moved up from the Valley and their shops were soon the best.

And as the mountain grew in fame–as folks drove up to ski–
They realized that Sugarloaf was where they longed to be.
These skiers, they decided, no longer would they roam!
Instead they’d build some condos and have a second home.

I grew up as the mountain did. I watched it change and grow
From simple, modest mountain; to making its own snow!
And since I was a local--since Sugarloaf was here--
It was expected of this girl, that I would be a skier.

But just because a trail is cut, and just because it’s there
That doesn’t mean each Kingfield girl should ride the Bucksaw Chair!
My old friend, Amos Winter, he said that I could learn.
He told me all I needed was skill to stop and turn.

He laced up my old ski boots, he measured me for skis.
He pushed me towards the teacher, and said, ‘It is a breeze!’
He donned his skis, he grabbed his poles, and went to run a race.
And left me with some strangers; this girl who had no grace!

We started with a ‘snow plow’. They said, ‘It’s trouble-free!’
But holy smokes! These people had never met a ME!
My legs were not designed like that! I couldn’t make them plow!
I wanted to get out of there! Not later, I meant NOW!

My tutor wouldn’t baby me. But I was only SIX!
I had no urge to learn about those skiers’ little tricks!
He wanted me to ride the ‘T’…but that was going UP!
He said I must go higher to ever win a cup!

But racing cup, I didn’t want. Nor trophy set with skis.
I wanted to get down from there. I asked him with a ‘please’.
Instead, he tucked the T-bar high underneath my thigh
And when it started pulling me, this girl began to cry.

How high up would it take me? How would I get back down?
I couldn’t do the snow plow from high atop the crown!
My chicken-livered nature combined with lack of grace
Made me drop the T-bar and land upon my face.

I thought I would be rescued, and carried down the slope.
But my instructor told me that I must learn to cope.
I told him I could cope quite well by riding in a sled!
I could tell the ski patrol that I had bumped my head!

He shook his head, displeased with me. His mouth turned into frown.
He said, ‘You must be braver! What goes up must come down.
‘I’ll meet you at the base lodge, down by the Schuss Café.
‘You’ll make it there quite safely! Now, please, don’t take all day!’

He picked one ski up in the air--a stylish little move--
And pivoted to face downhill! Right there, my point he proved!
He didn’t make a snowplow! He schussed and slid away.
He wasn’t making pigeon toes, like I had done all day!

I knew there had been trickery! T’was lies that he had spoke!
No-one else was trying that! This snowplow was a joke!
I tried to get down bottom, but each time I tried to stand…
My skis, they started sliding! Back on my butt I’d land.

And then, I had epiphany! I’d slide down on my rump!
Gravity was on my side! I had that teacher trumped!
But woolen pants are not the best for sliding through the snow.
It took a half an hour, for eighty feet to go!

At last, I was successful! The slope, it leveled out!
I’d made it down the mountain! I’d never had a doubt!
I stood up without sliding! I wanted then to cheer!
(But first, I had to pick five dozen snowballs from my rear.)

At sunset, Amos found me. He seemed a little glum.
I’m sure he’d had great visions of the skier I’d become.
But after my adventure on the crags of Sugarloaf
I think my Mr. Winter was thinking me an oaf.

And even though I never skied, that man remained my pal.
I often sat upon his porch and chatted with his gal.
In fact, t’was Alice who proposed that Amos teach me tennis!
He flinched at her suggestion… like I would be a menace!

But surely, nothing could go wrong! By now, I was a teen!
And Amos wouldn’t tell me ‘no’! I’d never seen him mean!
I showed up bright and early, new racket in my hand.
I’d show my buddy Amos! At tennis, I’d be grand!

There was one little problem. My racquet loosely gripped
Became a swift projectile when from my grasp it slipped.
The Winters, they forgave me. They said it was all right.
They said they’d fix the window ‘fore the bugs came out at night.

Old Amos put his arm round me. That founder of the ‘Loaf
Said, ‘Karen, stick to writing! You really are an oaf!’

Old Amos certainly tried his best to teach me to play tennis. I enjoyed those summer lessons at his camp by Tufts Pond much more than I relished my brief foray into the sport of downhill skiing. But that old friend and sage was often brought to the verge of despair. Apparently, teaching me skill in any sport was more of a challenge than even Amos bargained for. I remember asking him one morning what, exactly, it was that I was doing wrong. He twirled his raquet expertly between his hands, looked me straight in the collarbone, and said, "Child, you're just too tall. Teaching you to play tennis is like trying to teach a moose to dance the minuet."

For a split second, I felt like crying. I almost did. And then he raised his twinkling eyes to mine and said, "Shall we dance?" And I busted a gut laughing, instead.

Amos was a good man, and I gave up on my abilities long before he did. He and his wife Alice were wonderful mentors to, and friends of, this girl who grew up in the shadow of a monolith in Maine. A monolith that Amos had a large hand in transforming into one of the leading ski resorts in the north-eastern United States.

How lucky was I?

Happy New Year! May 2010 be filled with love, health and prosperity, and may you be fortunate enough to have friendships like those I have been blessed with!
This poem is lacking a title! If you'd like to enter to win a 'Sugarloaf' t-shirt, please submit your entry in the 'comments' section of this blog posting, or email me at The winning title will be chosen on January 9, 2009. I will have a friend make the choice, so feel free to enter if you are a friend or family member--no worries about nepotism!


  1. Nice poem! How about "Amos and the Mountain" for a title? He sounds like a great guy!

  2. Hi Crystal, and thank you for your entry! Most especially, thanks for stopping by to read Grumbles and Grins!

    Amos was a wonderful man; one of those patriarchs that brings a community together. Alice was a terrific lady, too. I miss that generation of men and women, and often wonder as I grow older if those of my generation will have a lasting and positive impact on the folks around us, the way those great people did. My hope is that we will.

    So! 'Amos and the Mountain' is our first entry! Good luck, Crystal! And feel free to enter as many times as you'd like. I'm all for stacking the odds in one's favor!

  3. Lori O. has submitted an entry!
    'The Adventures of Amos and a Girl Named Karen'.

    Thank you, Lori, and best of luck!

  4. Amos, Alice and Me

    Wanda Browne

  5. Thank you, Anonymous Wanda! Hehehe. What is it about my girlfriends? You comment as 'anonymous' and then sign your names, every time! I've gotta tell ya, you're making me look smart, and that ain't an easy thing to accomplish!

    (And you're setting yourselves up for a bit of sarcasm from a reader named Trev, too!)

    Thanks for your entry, Anonywanda! (Who ARE you, anyway???)


  6. How about.. The Ole Man of The Maine Mountain

    Wade Browne

    can't pick anything but anonymous below

  7. Hiya Wade! Are you SURE you can't choose anything but 'anonymous'? Did you try 'name/URL'? Because you can type your name in, and you don't have to have a URL (wassat mean, anyway?) to comment that way...

    I know, I know. These computers were designed to keep us humble.

    Thanks for your entry! But are you really comfortable competing against Wanda? If you win, will you be a gentleman and give her the t-shirt? Better question: If you win, will YOU read Grumble Bluff? Hah! Put you on the spot, didn't I? Hehehe. I am thinking up questions for a quiz as I write this!

    Good luck, Wade. And thanks so much for playing!

  8. 1.] The Race down Sugarloaf Mountain
    2.] The Saga of Sugarloaf Mountain
    3.] Ah'm a mountin man and Ah luv a'mountin women

  9. Holy smokes, Trev! I saw your name pop up in my email, and I felt the stir of anticipation! And three seconds after reading your entries, I was laughing my butt off! Hehehe.

    I can always count on you. Always. :o)

    Thank you for these entries. Hehehe. And, just 'thank you' in general. You've no idea the evening I've had, nor how much I needed a good chuckle. You've saved the day, here. Or the night!


  10. How about "Adventures on Maine's Mighty Mountain" ??
    Nope ??
    I think Trev's 3rd suggestion will take some beating........

  11. Hiya Dozy! Thank you for the entry!

    Yeah, Trev is always on his toes, isn't he? And I sometimes think he has a one-track mind! (It's all about the winning...)

    Good luck! If you win, you'll probably be the only person in Australia with a Sugarloaf t-shirt!

  12. How about "Learning To Ski By The Seat of Your Pants."?

  13. Well, hello, Tongue In Cheek!

    Thank you so much for the VERY apropos and amusing entry! But tell me this. If your title is chosen as the winner, how will I deliver your prize? (Please note... on GAG, even my 'anonymous' entrants sign their names! Hehe. Bear with us...we're mostly newbies to this blogging thing, and haven't cottoned to some of the more refined nuances involved in posting comments online...)

    Good luck, and please come back on Sunday to see if you are the winner.

  14. Great poem ! brings back lots of memories. Not real good at this sort of thing but how about : A Mountain of Reflections.

  15. Hiya, Wally! Thank you so much for entering! Now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Before you know it, you'll be an old pro!

    'A Mountain of Reflections' is a GREAT title. Keeping my fingers crossed for you! (But no more fingers than I'm crossing for everone else... can't play favorites, you know!)

    Good luck! (Did you ski? You did, didn't you? All I can remembver is you playing basketball. It was soooo looooong ago!)

  16. How about.. Mr Wilson thought Dennis was bad

    Just thought of another one

  17. Wade!!! Hahaha! That's a HORRIBLE title!!! (Have you been studying under my pal, Jack?)

    Hehe. If this one wins, I will KNOW that the winner was drawn from a HAT!

    Snicker... that was funny. Thanks for the giggle.

  18. It's almost closing time for the 'Name the Sugarloaf Poem' contest.

    I would love it if 'Tongue in Cheek' would let me know his or her name. If you don't want it published, you can email me at

    If you win, I want to be sure you get your prizes.

    I'm copying down the entries, and will email them to my friend MK, who will choose the winner. Results as soon as I hear back from her!

    Thanks, everyone!

  19. Well, my friends... the contest is over. And I'm afraid I had to break my own rules. My friend MK got delayed... I thought she would be home by now, and she's not. She's somewhere in San Francisco. So, since none of the entries were from family members (I don't think they were, anyway) I have chosen the winner, myself.

    First place WOULD HAVE gone to 'Tongue in Cheek', if I knew for sure who he or she was. 'Learning to Ski by the Seat of Your Pants' is a most excellent title for this poem! But Tongue did not come forward, unfortunately. And even though I THINK I know the identity of this awesome title bequeather... I can't prove it. And after I've chosen a winner, it's too late to claim that identity. So please, Tongue, my sweets! Next time, expose yourself! (But not in front of Trev, for God's sake!!!)

    Speaking of that rascal... I confess that I loved one of his entries. 'Ah'm a Mountin' Man and I Love A'mountin' Women' is a title that shows intelligence, humor, and great depravity. So of course, I felt drawn to it!! However, someday these silly ditties might be published, and I simply can't call my innocent Sugarloaf poem by such a suggestive title. But boy, oh, boy! It was tempting!

    And then there's Wade. Good old Wade. You have NO IDEA, my friend, how badly I wanted to call this poem 'Mr. Wilson Thought Denis was Bad'!!! That caused me several minutes of good chuckling... and I'd had a really rough day, so I needed that laugh. Once again, though... what if these are published? People would know for sure I was a nut job. (I may be, but there's no reason the general public needs to know that!)

    So... there you have the ramblings of a convoluted mind. My choice for the winner?

    Wally McKenney, and 'A Mountain of Reflections'. Yay! Lovely title, and writing it DID take me back to days of yore, and invoked some great memories. So, Mr. McK! You are the winner of a Sugarloaf T-shirt and an autographed copy of Grumble Bluff!

    I am assuming an X-L will do... you weren't a little lad, even thirty years ago... and it'll probably shrink the first time you wash it. (The SHIRT, Wally, the SHIRT! Don't you dare wash the book!) Who would you like that autographed to? Yourself, or your lovely lady, or someone else? Just let me know and I'll mail them off to you. If you'd like, you can email me with your address at That way, it'll be kept just betwixt the two of us.

    Coongratulations (even though it sounds like you only came in FOURTH... snort.)

    And thank you to everyone who stopped by and played with me on GAG. Be sure to keep reading. There'll be another contest before the end of the month!

    Good night!

  20. conspriacy I tell ya.. congrats Wally..I'll get ya the next time..I might get a chance to read that book one of these days..although I hate reading..(ADHD I think)..Was fun Karen keep up the great work

  21. Well well i do feel honored to be in such company of great writers ! Even though I did come in forth .lol

    I guess all the painful hours sitting in collage comp. last semester payed off after all maybe I did learn something! Oh and tell Mr. Grumbles That he is not alone when it comes to snakes kill'em all i say! look forward to Reading the book did know that was in the deal I just go nuts for a free T-shirt or Hat. LOL.

  22. Hey, WADE!!!!! Here's a suggestion!!!


    (Yeah, I know... you'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you? But if you buy the paperback version [only $10.95] you can read TONS of reviews where OTHER people discuss at length my magnificence as an author! No, really!! They DO!! And I didn't pay them to say that, either...)

    Oh, I did NOT!

    Hehehehe. Man, oh, man... signed copies are for sale at Tranten's, you know! Don't be such a tightwad Yank (although that's the best kind of compliment, you know! I'm one, too!)

    I really, REALLY wanted to use 'Mr. Wilson thought Denis was bad'...


  23. Hiya, Wallace! I have your address, and will pick up the t-shirt tomorrow (if the Sugarloaf store is open on Tuesdays!) Do you have a color preference? If not, I'll probably go with blue or green-- my two favorite colors!

    Congrats! And hey, 4th isn't so bad. I came in 3rd in the Maine Press Association's Better Newspaper Awards last year. (Please don't tell me there were only three competitors, okay? You're dealing with a very fragile ego, here. Very fragile. sniff...)

    Heh. Not so!

    Congrats! Hope you enjoy Grumble Bluff, and I hope your t-shirt doesn't fall apart after three washings!


  24. Well you are right.. tightwad is fitting, I truely wished I liked to I tell ya.. I will break down and get one though, just so my wife can read it and support the local economy in
    maybe there will be picture I can look

  25. Oh, no! Wade! I just realized that you entered to win a free t-shirt and a book, and for the privilege, it's costing you $10.95!!!

    Hahaha. Now I feel terribly guilty. Terribly! Tell you what... give it one more shot here on GAG, first. I'll have a 'Name that Caption' photo contest up in a little while. Enter again. If you STILL come up with really pathetic titles (loved Mr. Wilson, but you've gotta admit that was pathetic!) and you lose AGAIN, then you can buy a book! How's that? Another chance, buddy!

  26. No...I entered to try to beat my wife, but she lost too, so we to feel guilty about at all..All of me doesn't get much more pathetic than that last guess.. cruder but not patheticer..(if that's even a word) Will do my best to keep tryin, been fun and something different to do for a lookin for my quips

  27. Sucked in...had mah wet t-shirt winner'e celebration party all planned too. sigh.. never mind ..looks like ah'll now just heff tah do mah a'mountin bare backed.