Isolation Adventures: Return to Foster and Peabody

This morning, beaches reopened in Florida and were immediately flooded with people. Florida isn’t even close to their peak, and now they’ve triggered another one two weeks from now. Anti-stay-at-home order rallies yesterday in states that also haven’t yet peaked were lauded from the White House, which continues to praise today’s rally in Virginia. After hearing about all of this on Weekend Edition this morning, we didn’t much feel like hiking on known trails today, but we definitely needed to get out and do something. I suggested a return to Foster Pond, and Mom said she’d thought the same.

Like every time I’ve returned to Jerash with different companions, a repeat visit is always a different experience. We parked out on Kings Hill Road, for one thing, not wanting to risk the car’s undercarriage on the bumpy firelane. For another, there was not a trace of snow in the woods nor ice on the pond to be seen.

Mom reminded me that before Auntie Viv had the lakehouse that we tease her about being her “cottage,” she and her husband first stayed on Foster Pond in an actual cottage. It still stands in the trees up the hill, a darker red than the big house. The outhouse a little farther up the hill has slumped sideways against a tree, but the original cottage is still standing.

We also took a closer look at this carved pillar, which turned out on closer inspection to be even more impressive.

What I had assumed was an installed piece carved elsewhere is, in fact, an in situ carving of the tree that grew in this place. Fish that we initially thought might have been attached were carved from the same piece. As we came around to the side, we discovered that one of the fish had even been carved swimming through the trunk.

It got Mom to talking about another in situ tree sculpture created for Maine’s most famous couple, Stephen and Tabitha King, in the front lawn of their Bangor home.

Tabitha King said she was sad to cut the tree, but saw potential in it as soon as it came down.

“It was heartbreaking to cut that tree — she was a grande dame of a tree, absolutely magnificent,” she said. “I had her cut high with the thought of a wood sculpture. I didn’t know what at the time, and it took quite a while to settle on an artist.”

Meanwhile here in southern Maine, we continued on our walk. It was a little chillier than we had anticipated, but a pretty decent temperature for a walk in the woods. The road seemed much drier, too, than when I had come through before. The beech leaves, I noticed, were more curled up than on our earlier hikes, and beginning to bud at the tips.

When we arrived at Peabody Pond, we spent a little time orienting ourselves. Early in the spring as it is, we could just barely see Bald Pate through the trees, and we decided the probable direction of my ex-uncle’s parcel of land. Mom was curious how far we had come, and Fitbit clocked us in at about a mile and a third.

As we were about to turn back, we heard an astonishingly loud, resonant sound — a woodpecker pounding away intermittently high up in the trees. We lingered far longer than we might have, trying to triangulate on his position, until finally I caught sight of him high in the crown. Which is why I was struck by this on the walk back:

On the way back, we took a quick detour down another fireroad to get a glimpse through the trees at the cottage where Mom spent all her summers on Foster Pond as a child.


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