Thursday, July 21, 2016

Walking to Pushaw

It took me exactly an hour, this walk of mine, a unit of time which carries no meaning here. An hour? An hour of what? I left the lake house and made the slow climb up Meadow Lane, a narrow path of a thing which oddly qualifies as a "lane" in Knox County, Maine. Then I took a left unto the two lane dirt road, Crabtree Lane. The names of the roads...Meadow, Crabtree, Cove, and finally, Pushaw. 

There once was a time when the majority of roads in this country were dirt and gravel. Now, whenever you happen upon one, you immediately declare that you are in the boonies. Meadow Lane is the scary .31 miles that leads directly to the lake. It is a pile of rocks and dirt and drops probably 100 feet from beginning to end. There is one odd section where years ago someone thought about paving the thing. Maybe the money ran out, or someone got eaten by a bear while making the attempt, but now all that remains in a couple hundred feet of choppy blacktop.

Crabtree Lane is majestic, for a dirt road. Both sides are covered with deep woods, healthy stands of pines, maples and oaks. Every so often there is a birch tree with its feathery white bark, protected by statute here in Maine... like royalty. At the mile and a half mark there is a sweeping valley to the right, then at the end of long climb, an ancient hilly field of rolling grass and giant boulders. Making dotted lines through the landscape are several low stone fences constructed a century ago when there was some reason for their existence. Now they are grown over in spots, their stones black and covered with moss and the accumulated abuse of a hundred Maine winters. They are stubborn, aching things now...but they remain. I walk swiftly past them wondering what stories they could tell. 

Finally, the steep, weary climb up to Pushaw Lane, a climb that sets your lungs and thighs on fire on the way up, and everything else on fire on the way down. The sides of the roads on my walk are lined with Black-eyed Susans, ragweed, dandelions, and asiatic lilies. A more romantically inclined man might have remembered to bring scissors along to bring some home for his love. I make a mental note to bring scissors next time.

I stumble back down Meadow Lane, past the blueberry fields. I see the lake through the trees. Map My Fitness says I walked exactly four miles in exactly one hour. Such precision seems impossibly for such a place so untouched by most of modern life. The fact that I have such amazing cell phone coverage way out here is a bittersweet experience. After three weeks, I have become strangely protective of 67 Meadow Lane. Please world...leave this beautiful place alone. Please...