I am not a grouper

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Jan 24, 2020

Stumbled upon a photo of a long line of Jeeps/people bumper-to-bumper trailing through a Maine forest road. The caption read: “One of the million reasons I love summer in Maine...how about you?"

Um, not that way, thank you.

Yes, I love to find long dirt roads going into the Maine forest but without a line of other vehicles/people. My whole idea of getting into the wilderness is to get away from people, from "grouping." The peace and lack of man-noises in the wilderness is, to me, solitude "Far from The Madding Crowd," not traipsing along with them. I am not now, nor ever have been, a "grouper."

And nowadays, as my family has grown to so “big,” and I have some close friends left (some have moved away and some have left us), I’m busier than a one-armed paper hanger just keeping up with the birthdays, births, weddings, holidays, dinner dates, etc., with them. Added to all that, being an old lady with a house, self and dog to keep up with, I am, essentially, half a person in a two-person world. So I couldn’t find time for "grouping" activities with non-family, non-personal friends, even if I wanted.

Actually, I’ve never been one to join groups or teams. I never played bridge or joined bowling teams and such because thinking “Oh, I have bowling tomorrow night and next week and next week...” would drive me bonkers. I might feel like doing something else next week, like go fishing or have a long five-candle-bath and/or read a book. I’m not a grouper nor a joiner and I don’t mind my own company nor do I ever feel alone in the woods.

Probably that’s from my imprinting in my formative years where my brother and I were raised on my grandparents' farm, originally carved out of the North Maine woods in the mid-1800s by my great-grandfather, for whom Tucker Ridge is named. My brother and I were the fourth generation to live on the farm.

I was raised among independent people who worked, visited and helped one another out as family. Neighbors down the Ridge, who were a family in themselves, banded together for getting in the hay, harvesting the potatoes, etc.

Well, there was always the annual and famous Springfield Fair, still going on every fall for well over 100 years. That was a must. The several-tiered 100-plus-year-old wood grandstand, totally open to the weather year-round, is still there, still used. (They don’t build like they used to; nor do we have the old growth wood anymore.) But my grandparents and the other adults in my life weren’t groupers or joiners.

I love my house out here in the woods. It’s not the farm. But I still can pretty much keep to my ways. I’m not antisocial. I just prefer to choose who I socialize with.

Today, 70-plus years from the farm, I can go up and visit with the folks that now own and live on the land, and feel "home again," as little has changed up and down the Ridge, except for replacement of many of the original buildings.

All the farm buildings that my great-grandfather built, and that I lived in with my grandparents, are gone. The house itself burned down in the late 1940s, a few short years after my brother and I were taken off the farm.

But the folks that live there now have built their own home and treat the land with the love and care my ancestors did. Indeed, they don’t live all that different. Even though the internet is available, they choose not to have it. Salt of the Earth people.

Does my heart good to know they’re the ones that have the land now. And I am so blessed that they are very welcoming when I can get up for a visit. Indeed, they generously allowed me to scatter some of my dear brother’s ashes down in the spot where the old farmhouse had stood.

Since leaving my grandparents’ farm over 70 years ago, I have lived in the northern-most, the southern-most, eastern-most and western-most states, and ones in between, and big cities and small villages. But my heart is still in the Maine woods and independent activities — and my windows face the forest that wraps around my house.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt is an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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