Saturday, June 26, 2010

Somerset Economic Development Corporation Hosts the Friends of the Highland Mountains

On Friday, June 25th, the Somerset Economic Development Corporation graciously hosted the Friends of the Highland Mountains. Last month, Angus King was the guest speaker, as those of you who follow GAG are aware of. Mr. King made his presentation, and many of his statements were evasive or misleading... or downright untrue. Let's face it: He's trying to sell a product to the people of Maine, and he is the Wind Industry's version of a car salesman. (Ouch! I profusely apologize to those good car salesmen whom I know and love! But hey! I'm a real estate broker. I couldn't use THAT for an analogy, now... could I?)

After sitting quietly through Mr. King's presentation, the eight of us from our group who had attended the meeting decided that we simply had to address the misleading statements Mr. King had put forth. After all, he was a well-liked governor, and people naturally tend to believe what a man with power and influence and charisma tell them. So we asked the SEDC if they would allow us to speak at their next meeting. I was pleased and honored when they said "yes".

We only had a half-hour. The chairman of our Board, Alan Michka, spoke first. He addressed, point by point, those statements from Mr. King's presentation which we took exception to. I followed with a speech addressing the development's potential impact on businesses and real estate values in our county, and then Greg Drummond, owner of Claybrook Mountain Lodge, a sporting camp overlooking Highland's mountains, shared what an industrial wind development would do to his business and his quality of life. Greg's account was poignant, and it added a personal touch. How these developments will affect those who will be living in the shadow of industrial wind is something which developers such as Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner side-step constantly. They do not wish to address concerns like those Greg and his wife have. The general public might feel empathy for residents' concerns... and that sympathy would not bode well for the Industrial Wind contingents here in Maine.

Below, I've pasted in the few words which I shared with the SEDC Board. After our own presentation, we took questions from the members, and they were thoughtful questions... questions which we expected and which many people ask when first confronted with our different point of view. Questions like: If this was not in your back yard, would you support Industrial Wind? Or: If Maine has a policy against nuclear and hydro power, and you are nay-saying wind turbine generation, how would you supply our energy needs? What is your answer to the problem?

For the record, I stated that once upon a time, I would have supported an industrial wind development right here IN my own backyard... because I believed what the media and the government and the industry told us. I believed that wind energy was free, with few impacts, and that it would reduce carbon emissions and help our world move toward solving the crisis of global warming. It was only after educating myself on the topic that I changed my mind. The FACTS hold more sway with me than the hype does. It is my hope that as we attempt to give other residents the resources and information which we have access to, they, too, will understand the true impacts of land-based industrial wind in Maine.

I also reminded the board that technology is advancing all the time. There are many intelligent and dedicated individuals working on ways to improve the safety of nuclear power and find responsible ways to dispose of the waste. There are scientists looking into engineering dams which do not have the detrimental impacts on a river system which some of our old ones did. Just because our current government has those anti-nuclear and anti-hydro policies does not mean that the people of Maine might not implement change in the future, when such projects' positive contributions outweigh their negative impacts. In addition, I said that as a responsible citizen, I believe it is my duty to try to stop something I believe to be misguided and destructive. I stated that if I saw a person harming another, I would feel impelled to stop that hurtful action... whether I knew how to stop violence world-wide, or not.

I wish I DID have the answers to our energy needs... wish I knew how to provide low-impact power for the state of Maine. But I told the Board that I believe our tax-payer dollars could be put to much better use by spending them on energy conservation instead of a power generating source which we do not currently have a need for. If we insulated these old homes, replaced their windows and heating systems, and changed out our lightbulbs for flourescent, we would not only conserve power, we would be putting a large sector of Maine people back to work. Mr. King wants to provide 4-6 jobs for Somerset County. I think we can do much, much better than that.


My name is Karen Pease, and I thank you for allowing me to address your organization. I am a member of the Friends of the Highland Mountains. I live in Lexington Township on a 70 acre homestead, and for the last nine years, I’ve owned Narrow Gauge Realty in Kingfield, a company that has been in business for almost 30 years.

While my office is located in Franklin County, many of my clients live and own property in Somerset County. As of this date, 41% of my 91 current listings are in this county, and that represents a base value in real property of just over $4,500,000.00. In addition, other listings are in Carrabassett Valley, which borders Highland Plantation and lies directly to the west of the mountains which Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner propose to develop. County lines are not impenetrable borders, and what happens in Somerset County doesn’t necessarily stay here.

In reading your website, I came across these statements:

Your mission “is to undertake an economic development strategy to improve the economic condition and quality of life for all residents of Somerset County." Quality of life is what most people who live in Highland and the surrounding communities came for… it’s also why we stay.

Your stated goals are, in part, to “Create a vibrant economic climate, and maximize the value of our natural resources…"

I realize that as an organization, your goals are tied to the economic health of Somerset County. Wind developers also know this. When Mr. King was here last month, we heard about the projected tax benefits to the county, and Alan has shown you another way to look at that seemingly huge number. That benefit would amount to less than $10.00 per person. Less than TEN DOLLARS per person. Mr. King also promised jobs, which, according to his own permit application, will be temporary and only 38 weeks in duration, and many of those will be held by contractors from large companies which are not based in Somerset County. The permit application also states there will be only 4-6 full time jobs created… but they are jobs which, for the first two years, anyway, may have to be held by technicians in the manufacturer’s employ, and not by Somerset County residents.

As a business owner, I look at the advent of miles and miles of industrial wind turbines atop our greatest natural resources as an economic bane, not a boom. Experience tells me that if we forever alter those mountains which beckon so many tourists to our corner of the state, we are committing economic suicide. We have, right here, what millions of Americans are craving… what they are willing to go into debt to have, or cash out their retirement funds to buy. We aren’t the “Saudi Arabia of Wind”. We are the eastern seaboard’s Saudi Arabia of mountains, and wild places, and peace and quiet. Taking care of our natural resources cannot hurt our economy… it can only enhance it.

Industrial wind does not do what its proponents promise. Science and economics tell the true story. After months of study, I believe that it is nothing but a flash in the pan fueled by the promise of stimulus funds and tax production credits, which are supported by tax-payer dollars. Our government is taking money from working Americans and giving the lion’s share to enhance the wealth of a few industrial wind developers. Chances are good that we are each paying more than that $10.00 per person to pay for the destruction of our most valuable resources; the high terrain wilderness regions of this state.

Bill Townsend, a respected attorney here in Skowhegan and a former president of the Natural Resources Council of Maine once stated that “the idea of destroying a river system for a subsidized crop… wasn’t well received.” Mr. Townsend had it right. Destroying countless miles of mountain ecosystems for an intermittent and unreliable energy source with tax-payer subsidies is also not a responsible plan to implement in our state—or in Somerset County.

I have had prospective buyers tell me that they would have made offers on certain parcels of land or homes in Highland and Lexington, but because they believe an industrial wind development is imminent, they decided to look elsewhere. And I’ve had friends tell me that they can’t stand the idea of living in the shadow of industrial wind, and that if Mr. King’s permit application is approved, they will be putting their homes on the market. It’s unconscionable that they should be forced to move, and if they can’t sell their property for its pre-wind value, that’s even more unacceptable.

I listen to my buyers, and I listen to my sellers. I also pay attention to what real estate experts around the country are saying. Michael McCann, a Certified Review Appraiser and sales associate in several states and a member of an honorary land economics society, has developed a very comprehensive report detailing the adverse affects to values on real estate in the vicinity of industrial wind developments. I will provide you with the information in that report. Mr. McCann found that, not only are real estate values adversely affected by as much as 25-40% or more, but residents’ lack of the use and enjoyment of their homes is also a major ‘down side’ to industrial wind. I don’t think we want to tell Somerset County residents that a developer has the right to interfere with their quality of life or to take away their earnings in what is, for most, their only investment.

Wind developers in Maine love to tell us that real estate values will not be negatively affected if they bring their turbines to our mountains. Mr. King even indicated that wind turbines could be a tourist attraction… that people would come to Maine simply in order to see them. I submit that yes, for a short time many people will come to gawk--just as they would slow down to see an accident on the side of the road. But once there are 360 miles of mammoth turbines stretched all across this state affecting the views from hundreds and hundreds of square miles, I don’t think anyone would believe that they would entice tourists, anymore. On the other hand, Maine’s iconic mountains have been drawing visitors and their dollars for generation upon generation. What nature has created for us is the lure. We already have what millions of people want.

I ask that you look at this development in a different light. My business, which my parents created and built, depends on it. There is a massive amount of factual information available which will show you what those places in the world which are already experienced in Industrial Wind have discovered. This is not, will not be, the boom the developers suggest. You need only ask some of the business owners in Stratton-- friends of mine whom I have talked to--who were promised economic growth. They never saw it. The ONLY ones to benefit from the Kibby project were those who accepted ‘tangible benefits’ in the form of cash gifts or incentives.

Maine already exports power. We do not need what these turbines will produce. I believe that our economic future is tied to our unspoiled landscape, and I believe it should not be irreparably damaged to supply another region’s need for electricity. Please watch our video and avail yourselves of the information that can be accessed through the links on the pages which I’ve handed out. There are potentially many, many small Maine businesses which will be facing economic crisis if we allow our quality of place to be destroyed.

Let's keep our motto true. Let’s keep this state “Maine: The way life SHOULD be”.

The photo of the home on the water is in Highland Plantation, and in addition to the pond, the major, close-up view from this home is of the Highland Mountains.

I took this photo of the moose cow and calf on the morning of the SEDC meeting, June 25th, in Kingsbury... another Maine village which industrial wind developers are considering for mountaintop wind turbines.
We always try to be factual, and I made a mistake at the SEDC meeting. When speaking of the 360 miles of mountains to be topped with turbines, I stated that Maine wasn't even that long, from the crown to Kittery. I was corrected by a gentleman at the meeting, and I'd like to thank him for that. I was informed that Maine is actually 408 miles long. It's good to know. And it's par for the course... I made my own estimation by looking at my Gazetteer...and you all KNOW how good I am with maps!

I will remember that. Four hundred and eight miles. Thank you, sir!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Creative Cusses Contest

I love a good contest. I even love a horribly unfair contest! Witness how I was soundly trounced through unapologetic neoptism on Tony Park's blog last August! Ali g's entries were somewhat pathetic. Crooked Paw's were inventive... but a bit too cerebral for his own good. Dozy's were cute. Trin's... well. That girl has an attitude, and she is soooo competitive!

My entries were astounding. Hilarious. Top shelf. I cracked myself up!

But I lost to Ali g. What a load of BALONEY!

Hehehe... aw, I was happy that my good friend Ali g won. But it was obvious that TP was scared of me. My greatness intimidated him. He'd never imagined a Yank could be so sharp! Well, I guess he knows NOW!!!

Anyhoo, he instructed his ethical assistant to decide the winner (or so he said) and that winner just happened to be... Ali g. Can you imagine?? Pfft.

A star was born; for Ali g went on to win the next two contests he entered on GAG. And amazingly... TP had nothing to do with it. One was a random draw, and the other winner was chosen by my friend and neighbor--and she doesn't even READ my blog! (Did I say she was a friend? Hmmph!)

But I digress. What I'm here to announce is a new contest. The Creative Cusses Contest. We need to keep this site clean. After all, I have a reputation to live down... I mean, UPHOLD! I am the author of Young Adult fiction, and as such, I must set a good example. (Plus, let's not forget, there's always the chance my mother could read this...)

So, please come up with some creative ways of expressing yourself without using any of those traditional expletives we've grown accustomed to. Let's cuss without needing to use asterisks. Let's give someone holy old he!! without them having a clue what we're talking about. Let's vent our spleens and let it all out of our systems without insulting anyone. Let's save our offensiveness for our real lives, and not our virtual ones.

Does it sound like a plan? Wanna know what you'll win?


The winner will receive a bottle of homemade Dingleberry Wine and two wine glasses. Well, okay... two plastic cups. Hey, shipping is expensive, you know! And I'm into recycling, too. These plastic cups have been used a half dozen times already, and they're hardly worn out...

And if, by chance, it is one of my Aussie friends who wins, I'll just send you the plastic cups and the Dingleberry Wine recipe, okay? Because, you see... I'm on the Australian Customs 'Naughty List'. They still haven't forgiven me for the Spud Smuggling Debacle of 2009. There's no way I could mail a bottle of alcohol and get away with it. (Talk about uptight! Sheesh...)

No, seriously, if an Awesome Aussie wins, I'll order you a bottle of Oz's equivalent of Dingleberry Wine from the liquor store nearest you. And I'll still send you the plastic cups and recipe, too.

So... get those creative juices flowing! I wanna hear how you can insult someone without them ever knowing! I want to hear how you can describe certain actions or functions without giving a hint of what body parts might be involved. I want you to swear like a sailor... while sounding like an alter boy.

Contest ends on Independence Day, July 4th, 2010. Thanks for playing, and good luck.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Smacking FRED: Laughter with a Friend

I just finished having a good, long laugh. And I really needed it, too. Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down… over-run with work and responsibilities and deadlines. When we need it most, we often don’t take the time to laugh.

I was working on three projects, at once. I was trying to post to my blog, Grumbles and Grins. I was writing a letter to a government agency. And I was trying to finish up a novel that I was writing in collaboration with four other authors. I am not a good multi-tasker… and my brain isn’t what it used to be, either. I consider myself lucky to be able to concentrate on one writing task at a time, and disaster usually occurs when I attempt to leap-frog back and forth. In the novel I was working on, my main character was aiming a revolver at an agent from the rogue organization, Thessalonians Five, and she was topless, too. (It’s a long story… I was trapped into that position by the writer who came before me, and there was NOTHING I could do!) But in my letter to the Augusta organization, I was the concerned citizen asking for an opportunity to speak to their Board of Directors. Heaven only knows what I was posting to GAG, but suffice it to say that if I hadn’t proof-read my letter to that venerable environmental organization, I would have been perceived as a crack pot. One does NOT discuss the effects of cold air on bare flesh when one is trying to be granted an interview! (Or does one? Never mind… I’ll try that next, maybe, if my first attempt doesn‘t work.)

Anyway, I was getting grumpy. I was getting stressed. And then, a notification popped onto my screen telling me that an email had arrived. I growled and gritted my teeth, sure that any email must be some new task, project, or assignment.

Luckily, I was wrong.

It was a note from Colleen, aka Dozy, from New South Wales, Australia. Dozy and I met on the blog of an Australian author who was having a ‘Name that Caption” contest. She popped over to GAG, commented on some of my stories, and then asked for advice about what to say at her son’s upcoming wedding. To make a long story short… I wrote her a poem to read at his reception after gathering tidbits of information from her about his life, his likes and dislikes, his idiosyncrasies and his hobbies. Due to that collaboration, a wonderful friendship was born.

Dozy’s note was full of passion; passion about the mundane chores which awaited her on her Sunday off. Clean the litter box. Take the pooper scooper to the back yard and clean up behind the dog. Hang out the wash as it was clouding in. “Exercise” her vacuum. Catch up on receipts and bills and invoices, and complete some dreaded work on FRED, her computer. Her note was peppered with ribald words which are usually filled with asterisks, if one is going to be bold enough to write them instead of mutter them under one’s breath. After reading Dozy’s accounting of her glamour-filled day, I began to feel better. It’s not just ME, I realized. Everyone has days when they’d rather stay in bed and pretend the sun never rose.

I read her words and felt her wry discontent. I thought about my own day. The pee spattered toilet seat I unwittingly sat on. The cat vomit left at the foot of the stairs, which three Peases walked past without ‘noticing’. The $75.00 it cost me to fill my truck. The slow internet when I was in a hurry, and the kids who were in a hurry when I was trying to work slowly and methodically. The embarrassing typo I hadn’t noticed before sending out a letter to the editor of the newspaper. (If it gets printed that way, rest assured that it was a “public” meeting I spoke at. Who ever thought an “L” was such a vital letter in the alphabet? After all, it only has a value of one point in Scrabble!)

Yes, I felt Dozy’s annoyance. It mirrored my own. And she had let loose with me; her friend. What a healthy way to deal with what rankles! Sharing angst with a friend is, absolutely, a sure-fire cure for what ails you.

I decided to give it a try, myself.

“Hey, Dozy! Smack FRED, will ya?”

“Consider FRED smacked!”

I could almost hear her palm hit the monitor from 10,000 miles away.

“Was it a good one? Give him one for me! With a baseball bat!”

“I don’t have a baseball bat, but I have a cricket bat! I’ll go get it!”

“You smack crickets, down there? We consider crickets to be lucky. I have an ‘office cricket’ that I’m very careful not to step on…”

“Nah, woman! I mean the ball game, cricket! I used to play when I was younger!”

Of course, discussing our advancing years brought another round of irritation, and we went on, bantering back and forth about the stone cold facts regarding the aging process. Not only were we venting and cheering each other up, but I learned something, too.

Apparently, going braless does NOT pull the wrinkles out of one’s face.

Hehehe… yeah. That woman can make me laugh. And you know something else? She never, ever has a typo! She’s one amazing fiend!

Oh, fine, Dozy! Be a stickler for the truth! THIS is my desk as of five minutes ago... how embarrassing. Hehehe. You're a brat, you know it? And I love you s**tloads!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blown Away by the Big Wind Regatta

The Big Wind Regatta is now a thing of the past.

Last night, people from across Maine and New England joined together, attending a fund-raiser hosted by Nancy Gray of the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. Six weeks of preparation had gone into the gala affair. I’d met twice with the owner and the management team at the Inn to plan the event. The Harraseeket is staffed by an amazing group of people. The owner, her daughter, the managers of operations and sales, the audio tech, the wait staff, the house-keeping crew, the chef… each one I interacted with was phenomenal. Polite, helpful… and yet, full of vim and vigor and cheer. I was and am terribly impressed!

We began the evening with registration and a social hour, during which time our guests could wander through the rooms wherein we had our silent and live auction items displayed. Mrs. Gray had a cash bar set up, and waiters roamed the rooms with trays laden with scrumptious-looking hors d’oeuvres. I know they were delicious, because I asked our guests, but I didn’t partake. Pre-show jitters and rich food are not a good combination. Lucky for me, I learned that fact early on.

As people strolled through the rooms and wrote down their bids for the silent auction items, they also bonded with other Maine citizens who are engaged in battles similar to the one we are waging. In attendance were people from many other activist groups intent on fighting the destruction of Maine’s mountains by industrial wind developers. There were people there representing Friends of the Boundary Mountains, Friends of Lincoln Lakes, Friends of Spruce Mountain, Mars Hill, Friends of Bigelow, Friends of Saddleback and the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power, as well as us; the Friends of the Highland Mountains. It was uplifting and encouraging to see so many brave and hard-working citizens who care about doing what is right. I dare say there wasn’t a single person there who wouldn’t prefer to spend his or her free time doing something other than fighting Big Wind. It just goes to show you… this state is populated by some wicked awesome folks!

At six thirty we moved en masse to the Casco Bay room, where an amazing dinner was served. Roast beef, salmon, roasted baby potatoes with garlic, fresh salads, asparagus… it looked divine! (Yes, I said “it looked…” Remember… food + my nervous stomach = disaster on stage. I could only look and smell, but not taste.) Mr. Grumbles said it was an excellent meal, though, and he wouldn’t say that if he didn’t mean it. He’s painfully truthful, that way.

During dinner, several speakers addressed the crowd of 170+ people. Jonathan Carter was emcee for the evening. He introduced Steve Thurston, one of the co-founders of the Citizen’s Task Force on Wind Power. He was followed by Bob Weingarten of the Friends of the Boundary Mountains, and then Dick Fecteau of the Friends of Bigelow gave a short Power Point Presentation showing the impact the Highland Development will have on the Bigelow Preserve. Lastly, our own chairman, Alan Michka, spoke to the guests and introduced our DVD, “Save the Mountains of Highland, Maine”.

I hope those good men who gave speeches will forgive me for not going into detail about what they said. I am positive that they were engaging and articulate, and that they dispensed wise words of advice. They may have even cracked a joke or two! But I simply have no recollection of what they said. I was in the dining room during most of the dinner, but I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I’d scurry over to my computer to make sure Dick’s Power Point Presentation was properly loaded. Back out to the foyer to check on the members who were handling the live and silent auction details. Over to the “reserved” table to sit for a minute, making sure my husband and Dave Small, my Designated Laugher, both loved me, still. Up to the doorway to ask that the lights be dimmed. Back to the lobby to answer the manager’s questions about when to serve dessert. Up, down, around… I am sorry to admit this, but I didn’t hear a thing those esteemed gentlemen said. What I do know is… they LOOKED really sharp!

After our video played, it was my turn. Early on in the planning stage of this event, Jonathan suggested that it would be a great idea if I stood up and did a short comedy sketch, and to my utter horror—I said “sure”. He’d been in my audience previously at a couple of fund-raisers I held; one to benefit the New Portland Community Library, and the other to raise money for Alzheimers of Maine and Androscoggin Home Healthcare. But cripes… I’m pretty sure he was drinking alcoholic beverages at those events, so how could he competently judge my laughter-inducing abilities? I agreed to try to come up with something for the Regatta, hoping against hope that our guests would make numerous trips to the bar before it was time for me to go on stage. It was my only hope.

I’m pleased to say: They did! There was a good-sized line in front of the patio bar before dinner, and the bar set up outside the dining room was equally well attended! I thought I just might survive the night, after all.

And I did. Heck, anyone can survive ten or fifteen minutes of sheer terror, right? So what if I called the chairman of the Forest Ecology Network—an organization 10,000 strong—a “cheap b@$*@*d”? What does it matter if I mentioned my cleavage to a large contingent of activists whom I hope will take me seriously? And really, who will remember that I made fun of a former governor of the state of Maine? I’m not going to mention which governor, for I am more circumspect when I am not performing on stage. Besides, Angus will forgive me, I know. Once you’ve discussed your virginity with a man, a certain bond is created…

Yes, I survived. And if nothing else, I saw Mrs. Gray laugh while I was spouting my foolishness. That made the whole effort worth it, and then some.

But man, was I hungry! Thirty-six hours without a bite, and as soon as I stepped down off the podium, the nervous tension fled and I was ravenous. Naturally, by that time, the food had been cleared away. Not even one of those decadent pieces of cheesecake could be found! It serves me right for agreeing to try to make an idiot of myself on purpose, rather than allowing nature to run its course… In due time, the same thing would have happened, anyway.

The evening concluded with a live auction of some wonderful products and services donated by generous people from across the state. As guests filed out of the dining room, my big buddy Dave was there to collect their bids and hand over their purchased items. And then… it was time to pack up and go home. Back to Lexington. Back to the country, and my quiet hillside home.

I count the evening a huge success. We had no idea how many people would attend the affair, and so it was a pleasant surprise when a table had to be added to a room which was set for 160 diners. I was delighted to see people from as far away as Mars Hill, at the top of Maine, and folks from Massachussetts, down beyond our southern border. My fellow Mountain Defenders came out in force, and we are more determined than ever to right some serious wrongs and to join together in order to collectively give our quiet voices some much-needed strength.

This IS America, even though sometimes it seems as if our country and its founding principles have slipped away from us. We have allowed a government which is too large and too powerful to take our rights away. We’ve been a bit lazy, I think. I know I have been. The problem is that those in authority who have been charged by the citizens of this state and this country to protect our natural resources, our wildlife, and our people, have dropped the ball. Hell, they’ve thrown it! The power to shape policy has been held by those with the most money and influence. But you see… mountaintop industrial wind is WRONG. The whole concept is flawed, and the developers and the administration KNOW that it is wrong. However, there are billions of dollars at stake and sadly, when that is the case, many people are oblivious to the realities which are staring them in the face. They can’t see the forest for the trees. And so, they cut them down and replace them with colossal industrial wind turbines...

The issues are many, huge, and varied. There are countless arguments as to why industrial wind should not be allowed on Maine’s mountains. Those “in charge” are well aware of those reasons, but they are blinded by greed. So now it is up to us—the proud NIMBYs of this state--to take a stand and show our government employees and the industry which influences them, what—exactly—they need to do. A good first step will be to enact a statewide moratorium on mountaintop industrial wind. Let’s do it before our mountains, our tourist economy and our heritage are damaged beyond repair. Before anymore of our fellow Mainers are driven from their homes, or our animals are forced to migrate to quieter regions. Before we allow the expenditure of billions of OUR tax dollars on an experiment which has already been proven to be a failure. Before it’s too late, we need to stand together and speak together and set the policies which will demonstrate common sense and common decency.

Yes, I was humbled at the outpouring of support I witnessed last night. I was overwhelmed by the frustration and anger which infused our guests. More than ever, though, I was encouraged. Sometimes when you take an unpopular stance and embrace it, you feel a little lonely. You feel like the child who’s warming the bench… or the fat kid who is always chosen last. Every Mountain Defender, ever Wind Warrior in last night’s crowd has sacrificed something in order to do what they feel is right. It felt good to not feel lonely.

I was in the company of greatness.

And I was hungry, too.

Drawing: Windtoons Artist John Terry's "Vacationland"
Photos: Jean Marie and Marcia of the Harraseeket Inn-- What lovely and helpful women!
Dave Miller's bird prints
Jonathan Carter and Nancy Gray--our awesome hostess
One of the bars
The F.A.R.M. in Lexington Township
The Board of Directors of the Friends of the Highland Mountains: l-r, Dan Bell, Alan Michka, Karen Bessey Pease, Jonathan Carter, Greg Perkins. (Note the fashionable "X-it Lite" hat I am modeling...oh, brother....)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

River Drivers: Workers of Water

A month ago I was invited to Carrabec High School to speak to several groups of students as part of their "Diversity Day" forum. During the lunch break I wandered the halls, looking at students' artwork and their writing assignments, which were posted throughout the school. I came across a piece of artwork with a poem written on it... and it caught my attention. It was written by three Carrabec students who'd graduated several years earlier. I am acquainted with two of the young ladies and their parents, and I'm sure that detail added to the reason I was drawn to the poem. First and foremost, however, was the fact that my grandfather, Arthur "Bappa" Bessey, was a river driver; memorialized in print by John Gould and remembered in my heart. They were tough, rugged men on the outside. But Bappa, at least, was a kind and loving grandfather. He was shaped by the harsh life of the lumber camp and yet, he and others like him had their own impact on this land, this state, and our heritage.

River drivers... workers of water.

No one ever told them it would end
Their place in the world
Was secure—
They were the workers of water
They were defiance in wind
They were who no others would be,
And now they are no more.

A casual flick of the wrist
Patient, yet watchful eyes
Death whistled in the rapids,
One wrong step and darkness came before night
For reward, merely past due glory.

They were the champions of the waterways!
Yet no one fought their battles—
Now they’re just ghosts—
Chronicles of the way it was…

Anna Drummond
Sara Beane
Melanie Anderson

The top photo is of river drivers picking the rear of the drive and getting strays out of the eddies and logans to join with the rest of lumber as it headed downstream to the lumber and paper mills.

Bottom photo is of "Bappa" Bessey, rear-picker extraordinaire! 1905-1979