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Roger N. Meyer "...of a different mind "
Puzzle Pieces Image

Bee Baxter


Publication date: April 9, 1981

Now in the sixth year of return to my Big Penn camp, I come not as a stranger, but as a year-round transplant.

There are immedately obvious differences in how I apprach this once so far away old lake cabin. No longer the ardent lover in pursuit of a chimera, I am family. So is my camp. So are the woods.

At last I can admit the kind of family realities a lover denies or chooses not to see. My woods at this time of the year look like a slatternly house-wife who might know company is coming but doesn't care enough to clean up. The same beauty is there, all right, but the girl hasn't pulled herself together.

Last winter's harridan of a wind storm shirled like a poltergeist, ripping, slashing, breaking, throwing. In this wooded area of old timber, where young trees are thin and spavined without proper forestation care, the acts of the storm were more cranky than dramatic.

Here and there along the camp and wood is the awesome drama of a fully uprooted pine -- possibly up to 100' long, lying low, rotting, in the swampy bog fringing the road. But most of the damage is hundreds -- thousands of sticks, branches, gnarled chunks crooked like elbows.

Yet even through the scruffy woods which lie on this day findered with shards of sun, there is a beauty I have never seen before -- the snow, thin, rain-spackled, but held still in this tree-shaded place. And as always, the silence begins to work its magic for me.

Still deep in quiet, my road leads to the absolute silence of the pine needled hill down to camp.

The dock is still locked in ice. The ancient float has come apart, at last, its mended ladder, flung against the short, one of the rusted oil barrels pulled up against the cove. But those are the merest housekeeping details. Michelle Kennison, now a slimming, tall, nearly-twelve year old, walks in a friend's silence with me. Her dog, Chicklet, companion of all my Maine summers, has reached camp long before us. This sweet, long-haired farm dog is as close a friend as her family. She shows her job by leading the way on a walk which was so long my first turn home every Spring, with my Mel.

And in a way I cannot explain, here in our place, I can't feel I miss him. This camp and the woods he loved more than his boy and manhood's home in Minnesota, is his place forever. In a dear and special way, he is part of it as he is of me, forever.

So, coming back to camp is double homecoming -- to Mel and to where we both had homed our hearts.

Chicklet barks excitedly. She is hoping I will call her up to the back steps and hand out one of the occasional bones I save for her. But Michelle and I turn back uphill, picking up and moving some of the branches across our path. We are long time friends now, with the business of her life to discuss. A girl whose next step is Jr. High School, has much to consider.

And I, in my first winter-round in Maine, can change Robert Frost's opening lines of "Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening." Now I can say, "Whose woods are these-- of course I know--her house is in the village, though," which is why I turn uphill with Michelle toward the hours of my own days.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.

And -- if not all that many miles -- my way as for the child at my side, is still forward.

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