Doug Bruns

Maine, three years on.

In Life, Memoir, The Examined Life, Travel, Writing on May 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

The Great State of Maine

We moved to Maine three years ago this week. As I’ve observed previously, place matters, though I did not understand that truly until settled-in here in the northeast. (In a society where transience seems valued, such musings must seem quaint.) Of the world places I’ve seen, Maine is favorite. That I’ve seen a lot of the world, makes Maine the more significant. I’m not going to attempt to explain it. Ineffableness is how the important things are best realized.

There are other places that pique my interest. Colorado is such a place, as is Montana and Wyoming. Mountains and rivers, remoteness, low population, challenging weather–these are factors in favor of a place. A consideration of my travel resume reveals my interest in places appealing to the few. A family member, upon hearing of the minor hardships endured in Nepal recently, asked why I wouldn’t rather go to a place like Hawaii. That question obviously cannot be answered as it requires of the asker an impossible comprehension.

My father, who is ninety years old, still talks about living in a cabin aside a river in Alaska, where he will fish for his dinner and tend to a garden, where he will live in a manner fashionably now called sustainable. Of course no such place is left him, nor is much of him left for it. It was a dream. He also dreamed of living on a boat, a more reasonable quest, but also unfulfilled. Instead he worked his way up through the ranks at International Harvester until he retired as early as he could. His modest life, shared with my mother, included cutting the grass once a week and cleaning the gutters in the spring, caulking and painting the window frames, and attending to the weekly trash. He said to me this very morning that it’s best to have left that world behind, that he would not be able to walk behind a lawnmower now. Though he is still of sound mind, he talks of someday getting another motorcycle, like the Harley he had as a young man. I humor him, but suggest he also get a sidecar in which to store his walker.

It is fortunate that, unlike my father, I have made progress pursuing a dream or two, though my dreams have never been so concrete nor vividly imagined as his. The nature of my life has been more that of the rising stream during spring run-off. It will likely follow the course it took the year previously, but one cannot be sure and there is a thrill in that unknown. Eventually, as occurred three years ago, something might nudge it out of its ancient bed and turn it toward parts unknown. Therein is a natural cause for celebration.


It does not escape me that this is the second post this week using a river-stream metaphor. I think a little Hemingway might be in order. Here is the last paragraph of his two-part short story, Big Two-Hearted River:

Nick stood up on the log, holding his rod, the landing net hanging heavy, then stepped into the water and splashed ashore. He climbed the bank and cut up into the woods, toward the high ground. He was going back to camp. He looked back. The river just showed through the trees. There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp.

Amen, Ernest.

  1. Relaxed introspection. Nice.

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