To the Man who took me, Up Maine, fishing.
I’m picturing you reading this in your kitchen. You’re only reading it because you’ve just heard your better half say something like “You better come read this.” So now, you’re standing there, possibly saying, “What ales him. What a dubbah.” Or some other fun Maine saying. This isn’t a story, it isn’t a poem. It’s a real life thank-you letter on the interweb- the thing you love, to hate, the most.
“So, you’re going up-ta camp, really?”
Up Maine isn’t something everyone experiences. I didn’t think I’d get the opportunity. It was much like the idea of actually publishing a book. A great hope, but it’s easily faded with time and time wins against all of us. But this is the here and now. Now there’s Megan. The women who saved a downward spiral- half spinning, stopping and back up again- me. And with Megan came her family. The family that opened its arms, without judgement, and welcomed me. We sat at your dinning room table at Thanksgiving and I danced with Kathy.
You said that having me along fishing, Up Maine, was like having the son you’d never had coming with you. Well, going fishing with you, feels as though I could actually be your son, in spirit of course. It doesn’t take me long to process what you say, when you say it, it takes time for me to properly do this. So remember, when you compliment me to that level, and I appear to be wearing a blank face of stupidity, that’s not me feeling awkward. That’s me filing the memory away, so I can later recall it, with detail and focus.
We traveled North, I followed in my truck. My truck was packed with coolers, a kayak and other odds and ends. Your truck was packed with everything. Coolers, food, quads, fishing rods, a large canoe, and even the man with the ghost voice, Mr. D. You slapped a truckers antenna on the top of my truck’s roof and like that, we rode, Up Maine.
It’s possible you haven’t a clue what you did. Maybe you do? From my point of view, it’s like this. I don’t own fishing gear. I don’t have the proper amount of ice and I don’t have rain gear. I’m not prepared. I’ve never even been that far north. It didn’t matter, you took care of everything. You had the fishing rod waiting for me, extra ice and you’d happily give the shirt off your back. The antenna on my truck was a symbol in which the entire freeway could have understood as, ‘Hey, he’s with them.’ I didn’t have a ‘with them.’ You created it. You showed me the way to Moose Head Lake. You pointed out the different trees, fish, animals, birds, you even pointed out the different animal scat. Unfortunately you didn’t help me find BigFoot, but that’s O.K, I’ve forgiven you. You may, or may not, have nearly driven myself and Mr. D off the road while trying to point out a hawk. It’s even possible that we were nearly at the Canadian border, via the Golden Road, because you were ‘pretty sure’ there was a turn we could take. Somewhere. Or, maybe we should turn around.
You taught me how to fly fish. While fishing, a Moose decided to feed near us. I paddled within a short distance to the Moose. I’d never seen a Moose that close. The water was smooth and showed the mountain range its mirror image. Two different mountain ranges surrounded us, as though it were the most beautiful canvas, yet it was real. I caught multiple brook trout; we ate them the next morning. We rode your quads in the mountains surrounding us. Trails like I’d only seen pictures of in magazines. The vast openness of the land, once high enough on a mountain, is something that can’t be explained, only seen. And now I’ve seen it.
I’m not sure how, but you managed to make damn sure I didn’t catch any brookies that last day. I’ll have to catch some of the readers up on this one- It was the last day of fishing. The trip was coming to an end for me. The men keep track, in a little book, fish caught by which person. Somehow, I had the lead. That morning, at the foot of the lake, I was handed a new fly rod. Mhmm. That’s where the trouble started. I then paddled to the far side of the lake, away from the driving wind, and found a calm nook. The brookies were rising. I had a bite, set the line and reeled in nothing. I lost it. I lost another and another. Finally, confused, I reeled the line in. No hook. I don’t know about those Maine guys! He swears he didn’t take the hook off. Actually, he didn’t. But, when I tell the story in person, he did. He just couldn’t bare to lose the fish count, so of course he snipped off the hook! It just makes for a better fish story.
On the last morning I watched the sun rise. Up and over the mountain range, the rays came, blasting the lake with it’s glory. It was 5:07 am. I took a picture. That same lake, just days before, was producing large waves during a wind storm. I kayaked straight into the storm and felt as though I were a young boy, back in the ravine. You have no idea how important that feeling is to me..
This trip, these moments, Mr. D, Mr. L, Rick, Ethan, none of this has been forgotten. It hasn’t been taken for granted. Like many people, I don’t always express how I’m feeling. So, I hope this helps. I hope you realize that none of this would have happened if you hadn’t put me in a position to have met your friends. You say that I was asked to go because of my personality. I disagree. I was asked to go because your entire family welcomed me. I caught my first brookie on a fly rod, saw mountains, animals, lakes and met great people because of you. Thank you George.
I still have the list we kept-
Angry Beaver, 6
Ducks, 30 plus
Large Ant Hills, 4
Lake Trout, 1