RFD Maine — Tom’s Dream Getaway
I live well off a secondary road and can see no other houses from my property. In fact, visitors often comment upon the remoteness of my place, how quiet and serene it seems. And yet, knowing that people live just down the road in either direction somehow bothers me. Like Daniel Boone, who felt closed in when someone built a new cabin only five miles away from his place, I require my elbow room.
For many years, my neighbors were few and far between. Living away from the thundering herd imparts a sense of true freedom. In short, I find it liberating. But over the last 20 years, things have changed for me. Large parcels of land were subdivided and sold. People built houses and even before they drove the first nail, made it a point to erect bright-yellow “No Trespassing” signs.
This had a profound impact upon my life as forager, hunter and fisherman. What I and others took for granted for so long had rudely come to an abrupt end.
So what to do? Move away? Well, move to where? In my travels throughout Maine, and I cover lots of ground each year, it seems that houses pop up like meadow mushrooms after a September rain. It looks to me as if no place is safe. After all, who can predict what the future will bring, no matter where you live? It certainly never occurred to me that my comfy, friendly world would or could change in such a marked manner.
In years past, there was always this notion in the back of our heads that anyone only had to go a little further back in the country to find that ideal situation. But now, exurban development has made “country” more of an idea than an actual place. You can’t just go back in the woods anymore to get away from things. Or can you…?
Despite rampant roadside development, large tracts of woodland exist, even in steadily growing Waldo County, and the only problem is gaining access. This has happened throughout much of Maine. It isn’t that the woods aren’t there, only that if you don’t own land in order to get back in the woods, then tough luck.
But lucky for me I own land. And that land takes me far back off the road into a large, parallelogram-shaped parcel. Consider my property just one little piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle. And when completely assembled, that puzzle represents a much larger wild area than many might imagine. And therein lie my hopes for a place to retreat to, my own private getaway.
Right now someone is probably thinking of a luxurious place with all the amenities. But that doesn’t represent my dreams. Instead, I envision a simple, one-room cabin with a bunk, woodstove, table and perhaps a rocking chair and maybe some shelves for books. And of course, it would have a tiny porch with a roof over it. In other words, a typical old-time Maine woods camp.
I found the perfect site for my dream camp, too. It sits on a little peninsula exactly halfway into the woods. My place sits on the narrow end of the above-mentioned parallelogram, making it a little more than one mile from one side to the other. My dream camp would sit slightly over half a mile into the woods, not all that far, but far enough to provide me with adequate breathing space.
A tiny seasonal brook winds around the peninsula, and the edge of the place has mature hemlocks growing all around. This makes for shade in summer and protection from deep snow in winter. Snow rarely becomes too deep around hemlocks. Their thick foliage and crowns deflect wind-driven snow.
Friends will probably worry about me taking off to the woods. “Bring your phone,” they will say. But they don’t understand that phones represent one of the many things I seek to escape from, if only for a night or two here and there.
Of course I could bring a laptop computer and continue working while in my woodland retreat. But no, the computer on my desk at home suits me fine. My dream cabin is not for work, but for refreshing my soul.
Music, of course, will play a large part in my time out back. But again, not recorded music, but rather homemade music. Irish Uilleann pipes and pennywhistles will fit in rather nicely out there. Sitting back and playing a slow air by candlelight, or perhaps the light of a lantern, while sipping on a heavy ale seems to me the height of luxury and happiness.
So what if my big dream doesn’t quite match those of others? It doesn’t take much to make me happy. A quiet, remote spit of land with a little rough cabin surrounded by ancient hemlocks seems quite enough for me, thank you.