The years have flown, and here I am. But those years have been great -- some more than others.
Actually, some happenings along the way were great, and, I suppose, they make up life along with other times that weren't so great.
No, I'm not becoming sad and feeling old as I look back. I'm feeling kind of happy about those happenings. And today's will become tomorrow's happenings of then yesteryear. I'm reading a book that takes in a whole life, actually whole lives of several people. They're young, they're middle aged, and then they grow old. Lots of things take place.
A friend of mine, Greg, died a few weeks ago. I knew him ten years. During those ten years he paid off his student loan. His earlier years had seen him as a Marine, then somewhere, somehow I think disabled for many years, and then I knew him. Those in-between years were probably interesting. I'll never know.
I do know about mine, raised with a brother and sister in suburban Philadelphia. From a young age, I don't remember how young, I wanted to move to Maine. Then I did make that move, and my present life began.
I remember a bit from those early years, my older brother pulling me in a wagon in our back yard, then toting me on his bicycle to Valley Forge. I also remember him as a bully. My younger sister was never nice that I can remember. My father was kind of a hero, working in a railroad office the whole time I was growing up, then retiring, and passing away too soon. My mother had been a school teacher until she met my father. She never taught after that, raised us instead.
We came to Maine to visit my great aunt on her Belgrade farm. We came by Pullman train until I was old enough to drive. I never knew my father when he drove and gave it up because of a health problem. My mother never drove.
From Belgrade, we explored Maine, a number of lakes, museums, fairs, and trails. It was the trails that drew me back, and brought me here to live. I was a minister, a teacher, and then a reporter. Now that I'm retired I drive a tourist bus.
And plant a garden each spring, which is getting harder each year due to spring rain and global warming that brings too much heat to take care of the garden right. Been having a garden for over 30 years. Today I fought heat and mosquitoes as I hilled potatoes. Dolores says she can buy cleaner ones at the store; but I'm a gardener.
The things that stick to my mind the most are what I did with my family. I remember a number of hikes with the kids. They may have been highlights. I remember the youngest, Scottie, riding the shoulder seat-pack and yanking at trees as we climbed Saddleback. I remember us all atop Baldpate. I remember looking at slides and asking the kids which mountain this was, and their reply, "Baldpate, of course." We had climbed that one several times.
I remember my earlier climbs up Katahdin. Katahdin, not Mount Katahdin as the news reporters write and say, since they obviously don't yet know that Katahdin means "Greatest Mountain." Why repeat "mountain"?
I used to bicycle with the kids, in particular I recall a 70-mile ride with my oldest daughter, Lorraine. We had given her a brand new ten-speed because she had helped us move -- a job we all loathed. I remember my youngest daughter's bicycle tipping over at the top of a steep hill, her pain, the damaged bicycle, and my pain in seeing her in pain. (A week ago we gave my youngest daughter, Faith, and her husband, Paul, our canoe and electric motor. We don't use it much these days. Dolores thinks I'm getting too old. Not a chance.)
I once was asked by a group of elderly women to attend a church meeting at which a home-missionary society was trying to take their church. I remember the missionary, whom I had known for years, telling me I was an atheist -- why I'm not sure except that I opposed his church-taking. I also remember reminding him that it was he, not me, who was trying to take the church away from the local folk who had taken care of the old building for years.*
Many of my memories are from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club from work trips to my stay-at-home computer stuff to help groups hiking the Trail to not arrive at an overnight site at the same time as another group. I recall a long-ago work trip when a group of us were building the Frye Notch lean-to. One volunteer, whose chain saw stopped working, slammed the saw down and broke it. And when we left the site to head home, we didn't bother going uphill to connect with another trail and follow it down. We bushwhacked right through the puckerbrush. Years ago I received a plaque stating that I had been with MATC 25 years. I can't recall how many years ago I received that plaque.
Maybe my mind has blocked out some unhappy memories, as when the snow began to melt in late January around 1987. This was the start of my acquaintance with global warming. Some friends deny global warming, but I'll never forget clinging to trees on ice-covered cross-country ski trails.
The snow became so poor that when I broke a ski climbing through a wood pile a number of years ago, I was not unhappy to end my cross-country skiing days.
Dolores and I have memories, more recent since we only met about 25 years ago. I recall those trips to Boston for her brain surgery, and I recall choosing my first bottle of wine during one of those trips. I recall our climbing a moderate trail in Acadia National Park after our return from one of those trips and how her head began to bang because I had been too foolish to hold off that walk until she had healed more.
Now our memories are building week by week, in particular our Sunday breakfasts, the only breakfast I make during the week.
If you remember anything from all this, please remember not to phone us during a Sunday breakfast.
* A "church" by biblical standards is a group of Christian people. They originally met in homes and caves, but now in America use buildings. The word "church" has wrongly come to be known as the group of people.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014