At Union Falls, New York, a large pond (of the same name) spills over a dam and tumbles over the rocks and ledges to make a fast and wild plunge to Lake Champlain. This stretch of river is no match for my skills or for my wood and canvas canoe. It’s here that I elected to strap the wheels to the boat and hunker down for a long portage.
From a small park the road drops down to cross the river adjacent to the ancient dam and powerhouse. The iron bridge, was enveloped in spray from the dam and waterfalls. Turning right onto the Casey Road I found myself plunged into another time and place.
This was the time and place I sought. This was rural Maine — the rural Maine of my childhood.
Here the forest is a mix of beech, maple, birch, pine and spruce. The narrow lane, paved in macadam, was lined in ancient loose stone walls. In the margins of the road–where sunlight filtered through the overhanging trees–wild flowers grew. These were the same windflowers my sister and I would gather on those ancient Maine roads many years ago. I expected to see a familiar fox or pheasant dart across the road ahead if me.
My pleasant walk was interrupted. Not by a fox or a pheasant, but by something completely alien to me.
I was attacked by a deranged two-legged raccoon. That was my first thought as a chattering brown and black striped animal exploded from the underbrush.
Before I had time to gather my thoughts into something rational, the animal slowed and assumed a posture that I had often studied in my field guides. I was under attack by a ruffed grouse.
For the next five minutes the bird moved about me and the boat, posturing and blustering.
I realized his bird was protecting a nest or offspring, so I moved along. When I last saw him, he was sitting on a shoulder high branch sending me along my way.