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OLD PLAN OF FORT WESTERN
VACATIONING IN MAINE
IF one has only two weeks to rest, how shall he use that time? If one's physical condition is good, he could best see the state as follows: Coming to the state by water, to Portland, he should give a day to the islands of the bay, and another day to an excursion to York, returning by the same route. A third day could be well spent by taking one of the routes to Fryeburg and returning by another which would bring him to Naples through Bridgton. A day may be spent by visiting Poland by still another route. One may then go on to Brunswick and Augusta and spend the night at Belgrade. The next day he may run to Rangeley Lakes and remain over night. Returning by another route we pass through Stratton to Kingfield and so to North Anson, Madison and Skowhegan and thence to Greenville on Moosehead Lake. Remaining there for the night or going on to Kineo we may, the next day, by the way of Guilford, Medford and Mattawamkeag go to Millinocket. From that point a day or two may be put in at the camps by the lakes at Mt. Katahdin. Returning to Millinocket or Mattawamkeag we may give two, or three or four days to a journey, through the length of Aroostook County to Fort Kent and return. By a choice of various routes one goes from Mattawamkeag by Springfield and Topsfield to Princeton, where a day may be given to Grand and Long lakes. Thence to Calais and Eastport, and Machias. If one has a day to spare a northward tour into the lake region where we swing back from Meddybemps to Machias again, will be found attractive. We go then to Ellsworth and Mt. Desert giving perhaps two days. From this point to Bangor by way of Castine and Bucksport. A journey from Bangor down the east bank of the river through Belfast to Camden brings us to an important stopping place. We may have a day or two or more here. Then a day at Damariscotta and Wiscasset and Bath and thence to Portland.
FORT WESTERN, AUGUSTA
The only necessary variation of this route if one comes in by motor, is that he would approach the state from Portsmouth and have a day along the beautiful coast towns on the way to Portland.
It would not be at all wise to attempt to cover the region we have outlined, in one week. Three weeks or more would enable the tourist to learn more comfortably the pleasures of Maine. A notable addition would be the canoe trip down the Allagash, from the northern end of Moosehead Lake to Fort Kent.
If only one week is available the traveler will do much better not to go north of Belgrade and Bangor.
For a long rest, at points of importance, with every provision for good living, one may suggest York, Portland, Poland, Rangeley, Belgrade, Augusta, Greenville, Kineo, in the western part of the state. In the eastern portion, Rockland, Camden, Bangor, Castine, Mt. Desert, and various camps north of Bangor. we attempt no guide book and make no apology for omitting many delightful and important points because it is given to but few to see everything. There are at least fifty comfortable lake resorts which we have not mentioned and as many more village resorts.
UNDER MEGUNTICOOK - CAMDEN
THE LIP OF THE BOWL - FALMOUTH
FROM OCEAN DRIVE - BAR HARBOR
SKIRTING THE ELM ROW - NORTH EDGECOMB
MAY BY THE WAYSIDE - NEAR POLAND
THE HEART OF MAINE - BETHEL
DUCK TRAP BROOK
FROM THE FARMER'S DOOR - DRESDEN
A MAINE PLOUGHING - BERWICK
THROUGH THE FIELDS - FRYEBURG
WELCOME HOME! - WASHINGTON
THE RURAL MAILBOX
COUNTRY DELIGHTS - DRESDEN
While there is not so much canoeing following the principal rivers we think that mode of recreation would prove very attractive, especially as it would bring one to many important spots of human interest.
The writer is very fond of small village hotels and they are fairly good.
The flavor of the region is in such places more fully tasted. We have already outlined little journeys from Fryeburg. Similarly from Newport one could take a day for Moosehead Lake, another for Augusta and Belgrade. A third for Bar Harbor, a fourth for Castine, and a fifth for Millinocket. His stay could be extended by visits to Oldtown, to the north Kennebec, and to various local lakes.
Eastport should be kept for a good half dozen boat journeys, including Grand Manan, St. Andrews and the bay to the east of the city. Some such excursion from Calais or Princeton would provide an agreeable week or summer. Kingfield is a center for Rangeley, for Jackman, for Belgrade, and the upper Kennebec.
There are of course those, in great numbers, who dwell, the summer long at Poland, Bridgton or Naples, and others who enjoy an entire season at Boothbay or Rockland. Boothbay especially for water lovers is a very notable center. There are not a few persons, who, weary, of the world's work, remain close to Camden, Castine, or Bluehill the season through. Of course it is well known that dwellers on Bar Harbor never require to leave the island.
Every one has his preferences. The upper and wilder country has a very strong appeal, and there are multitudes of Maine visitors who lose themselves in the deep woods and never ending series of lakes in the northern half of the state, making their own camps and living quietly. It is feasible to occupy some months in canoeing only and never crossing the original track. One may go down the Allagash or the St. John returning by the other route. A summer is not too long for the circle of the lakes at the extreme north of the state.
When ladies are of the party and there is reason for limiting expense, with a family of children, the thing to do is to seek out some of the good boarding houses. The traditions of Maine people are in favor of good food in plenty. The writer has boarded in many places in Maine with a wide range of charges, but has never yet failed at finding a fairly satisfactory meal awaiting him. Perhaps not as much could always be said for the beds, but brief investigation may satisfy one as to that important matter.
We recognize that not every one tours by the roads. We question in fact whether those who do so derive as much pleasure as is possible by a summer stay in one place. It has appealed to many to have summer homes in Maine. They may there satisfy their craving for the picturesque and they may also enjoy the pure air of the state where malaria never appears. Who would not enjoy getting his mail at Wytopitlock, or who would not rejoice in owning Polywog Pond? The Maine residents are glad to see us all. Partly they enjoy sharpening their wits upon us. The social life of the people of Maine, primarily in the smaller neighborhoods, receives an agreeable fillip from the visit of guests from afar. We find that, about some things, they are so much better informed than we are, the exchange of conversation is profitable. It has been alleged that self conceit is the principal barrier to learning, if we except indolence. There are a large number of Maine people and the people who visit Maine, who are still gifted by that delightful possession, curiosity. Gossip has been very much maligned. Certainly it is one of the most agreeable features of life! If we are neither bitter nor hard, what more delightful occupation is there than to talk about our neighbors? The Maine farmer can tell you just why his neighbor does or does not thrive on the farm. There is a certain terrible justice in the estimate of his neighbors by a frank man.
But if there
those with an unreasoning objection to gossip, though in practice we
met them, the parties to a conversation may always talk about
The man who cannot learn something from a Maine farmer or a Maine farmer's wife must indeed be very dull. Our final suggestion is therefore that the reader journey through Maine for a month or two, seeing leisurely its more important features and then that he settle down on a Maine farm. The chickens that run about are a visible evidence that plenty will appear on the table. A thrifty garden may induce a late stay until the green corn is in its prime. It is a well recognized fact that no nectar of Olympus, no viand lauded by poets, no notable dish prepared by the wiliest chef, is for one moment comparable with an ear of Maine sweet corn. One should shut his eyes and use both hands for this supreme feast. A little butter is all the lubrication needed. The reader is hereby warned however that more than three ears at a single meal are likely to be dangerous especially after the corn is well filled out. We know because we once made a complete meal of this delicacy.
The older we grow the hungrier we get for the diet of our boyhood. What tomatoes grew then, rich, red and juicy, what peas, what delectable wax beans! Is there anything better than a new potato dressed with a touch of milk and salt? But we refrain, for we must immediately go to dinner!
Days in memory that help to make a past sharper with warm lights: A long day sitting on the rocks of Cape Elizabeth while the tide went and came again. Of course we had a book and a friend. This is always safe. The conversation of angels sometimes ceases. Sometimes also we weary even of the wisdom of books. Then there is the language of the sea as a constant resource. The language is not the less delightful, though we understand it only in part.
A day of raspberry picking on Allen's hill. We passed from clump to clump of the well reddened bushes, on the soft turf kept at an agreeable length by the sheep that feed about us. We talked in child fashion of great things, and we ate our lunch beneath a lone elm by a ledge. The white argosies of the sky sailed on through their calm sea. The summer airs caressed us. It was a great day.
A winter day from Farmington to Augusta in the sleigh. The sun shone. There was no wind. A soft snow had touched the fences and the roofs. The evergreens stood out above the glinting surfaces. The tang of the winter air set red blood tingling. The good horse Jane tossed her head and sped on at a steady gait over hill and hollow. Then the joy of arrival. How the jolly eyes of our uncle twinkled, and what a thorough business he made of "filling us up" at the supper table!
Then there was a day among the islands of Casco Bay. There was a day of skirting the entire coast of Maine. There was a day of fishing on China pond. Best of all there was a day of tramping and canoeing to reach the spot where Katahdin is most beautiful. Among all these days it impresses us that none of them included a very long journey. When too much passes before our eyes in a few hours we become like the man who saw the several miles of galleries in the Louvre in an hour and a half.
One may say, these things do not interest me. One who makes such a remark indicates that he is either supremely wise, supremely ignorant, or desperately wicked. While we live let us enjoy learning why, how, and where, concerning everything in the natural world. We cannot learn much now about heaven. True there are those who would try to tell us of it. There is only One who has been interesting on this subject, and His remarks were brief. Shall we not perhaps best indicate our reverence and appreciation by looking more carefully at the world we have?
To our thought the man who, in Maine, dreams of heaven but does not see it has an imagination which far outruns his vision. Has any body half understood the things that lie all about him? It is a grave question whether people who show a contempt for creation or even a carelessness for it are really good people however much they may pray. It was Tennyson's thought that God reveals himself in many ways. Have we very fully and carefully looked for these revelations in Maine? Somebody has photographed the village store and on a postal card has sent its wretched front abroad. As Collier says of these meaningless pictures of meaningless edifices, what of it? How many good pictures can you find of a district ten miles across centering at a Maine village?
To supply this very lack of worth-while pictures we have examined thousands of view-points. Is not our country worth giving our careful attention? The artist in Holland did not have remarkable themes to paint. There is a deal written about the Dutch atmosphere. A similar atmosphere is often found anywhere east of the Missouri River. We have wonderful compositions from the hands of Holland artists because they did their best with the material before them. Similarly, could we have a Corot in Maine he would do much more with its fine trees and hills as backgrounds than he could do with the everlasting sameness of French poplars. A good many apparently valid reasons can be named to explain the production of beautiful art work, and a good many more can be named to prove that such works must be limited in their scope. The plain fact is that the artist will produce results according to his genius and effort, wherever he may be.
Another plain fact is that America is for the most part a virgin field. You many wander in vain in all our art galleries to find a single example of any one of thousands of exquisite American landscapes that are to be seen as one travels. The artist who should have been painting them was in Paris or Rome or in some foreign watering place. He went abroad to study and remained abroad.
The same in great measure may be said of artists here in America. It remains for an American Maecenas to provide typical paintings of the beauty of all our American counties where the material may be found for worthy compositions. In the national capitol we have a few notable western subjects. In some of our other capitols we have other themes representing the development of the states concerned. But where has any state or local art gallery or private individual ever attempted to gather representative scenes of a state's beauties? The omission is a capital error, which may yet be corrected.
The pictorial history of our states has thus far been carried on by the postal-card artist. He has recorded the triple line of poles in the village street, ending his vista with Silas. barn. Within a half mile there was a lovely stream, a nestling cottage, a bank of ferns or daisies. There was "the orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild wood." Did the photographer record these things? Did he try to find them? The owner of the barn would enrich the artist by the purchase of two post-cards, and both parties to the transaction would be highly elated. Yet if this same farmer, so frequently stolid, had been shown a composition which recorded the beauties of his back fields, and had been told that they were better than Holland, and particularly better than New York, he would have believed it.
If now we could inspire a thousand young men of artistic instincts to record the beauties of America there would be a reaction worth while, in the way of sustaining the self-respect of our citizens. Our art schools are doing nothing for us in this respect, or so little that their efforts are not appreciable. They are teaching the pupils to paint some baneful French interior, the abode of luxury and vice. They are not seeking anything national. They may reply to this criticism that art knows no national bounds. Why then do they so persistently scorn America? The man who says that one country is as good as another and then avoids his own country on principle may be a good artist but he is a poor logician and a worse American.
If artists wish to show us the beauties of the world in architecture their field is plainly foreign, because architecture is a matter of the ages. If however an artist is an American as the Frenchman is French he will try to do something in America, and will discount largely the fine gesture of his foreign teacher who, never having seen America, tells him there is nothing in America to paint.
Would not the picture "Looking Seaward" (p. 35) or "Rounding the Cliff" (p. 11), be worth while for a real artist with a brush? To be sure a "Maine Ploughing" (p. 186) may be improved on as a theme, but themes so much worse are common that this might be tried. It would require no stretch of imagination to perceive that "Fryeburg Waters" (p. 43) or "Wild Cherry at Boothbay" (p. 191) are better to paint than a red barn.
We therefore more and more see the unimproved opportunities in America.
A MAINE SHORE FARM
MOUNT TOM - FRYEBURG
A WINTHROP FENCE ROW
THE LONG LOOK - CAMDEN
A SEBASTICOOK BAY
COTTAGE GABLES - MONMOUTH
BELOW THE HILLS - STOW
HEAVY WITH BLOSSOMS - MONMOUTH
WILD CHERRY AT BOOTHBAY
THE CASCO BAY SHORE
A ROSE GABLE - BELGRADE
THE OVENS - MT. DESERT