Everything I knew about Maine I learned from Stephen KingPosted: June 20, 2012
I was saving this post title for when I finally got around to posting about Acadia National Park and Maine. However, it’s not often that the Muse of Post Titles not only throws me a good title, but she gives me an idea to go with it. I’m not going to look that gift horse in the mouth.
There is some truth to my post title. Prior to researching our trip, I really didn’t know much about Maine other than what I’d read in Stephen King‘s books over the years. (If you’re unfamiliar with Stephen King, he often places his stories and characters in Maine. He is from Maine, and you know what they say about writing what you know.)
One of the books I took with me on our trip to the Canadian Maritimes and Maine, and I’m still reading now, is Just After Sunset: Stories, a collection of thirteen tales by Stephen King. I started reading it just as we were making our way to Maine, not really as a homage to Stephen King but because short stories are good to read while traveling, I had this book handy when we were packing, and I thought, “When in Maine…” So, maybe it was a small homage to Stephen King.
I usually get in a lot of reading on car trips. That was not the case this time around as we were covering new territory. As the not-driver, it is my job to navigate. I am not only good at reading a map, I can fold one with the greatest of ease. I’ve had lots of practice. There were, of course, long stretches of highway that did not require navigation (“just stay on the Trans-Canada Highway for 200 miles”), but I didn’t want to miss a moment of the scenery so I didn’t do a lot of reading. This is my way of explaining why I’m still working my way through a book I started while on vacation. (It occurs to me that I should also explain that neither M nor I have smart phones of any kind, and our GPS system continues to be maps and Trip Tiks from the AAA. They charge extra for GPS in a rental car, and the maps are free. A map does not insist you make turns when you already know you’re going the right way, and it doesn’t continually nag at you about how it is recalculating.)
The other night I read N., the tale of an accountant, N, with a photography hobby (“an accountant by trade, a photographer by inclination”) who develops OCD for the usual macabre reasons. (You didn’t expect normal reasons, did you? It IS a Stephen King book.) In the story N talks about how he has taken photos all over Maine and New Hampshire, but he likes to stick close to home because the pictures he takes close to home look more real to him.
After finishing the story, I found myself thinking about this part of what N. had to say about photography:
Want my opinion, just as an amateur? I think photography’s a much artier art than most people believe. It’s logical to think that, if you’re got an eye for composition — plus a few technical skills you can learn in any photography class — one pretty place should photograph as well as any other, especially if you’re into landscapes. Harlow, Maine or Sarasota, Florida, just make sure you’ve got the right filter, then point and shoot. Only it’s not like that. Place matters in photography just like it does in painting or writing stories or poetry. I don’t know why it does, but …
… Actually I do. Because an artist, even an amateur one like me, puts his soul into the things he creates. For some people — ones with vagabond spirit, I imagine — the soul is portable.
I nodded right along because I think I know what the character (and the writer) means. At the very least, I know what my interpretation of it means.
It’s a scorcher outside today. Not my kind of weather at all. Nonetheless, I forced myself outside for the usual daily walk, grabbing the camera at the last minute. As I slowly, slowly walked around the pond (it’s too hot for speed), taking pictures of whatever caught my eye, I understood immediately the idea of photography (or any art) being about place. Place may well be the reason I am not always happy with my vacation photos. As much as I love to travel, here by the pond is my place, and it’s where my heart and soul usually go into my photography practice.
The walk was good, albeit hot and sweaty. There are all sorts of things going on around the pond. The dragonflies and damselflies are out in full force. I saw a couple of monarchs. A buzzard landed on the stump of the maple tree at the back of the pond. I thought he might be seeking shade. But as I made my way to the back of the pond, the distinct odor of death was in the air, and the flies were gathered in large numbers, buzzing like a scene out of The Amityville Horror. The buzzard was there for lunch rather than shade. The bones pictured above are not what the buzzard was after. I didn’t get a chance to find out what had died because I spotted a very large snake in the same vicinity and decided we should part ways. Since the snake wasn’t moving, I did.
I will have more vacation photos for you soon. Today I desired to be in the present, to be at home, even in weather I don’t much like (I am a winter person, as many of you know). Thank you so much for joining me on my walk with the dragonflies today. I would have taken you down into the woods, but the deerflies and mosquitoes are pretty bad. There is also a big patch of poison ivy at the beginning of one of the pathways into the woods. I’ll have to remember to get out there and do something about it.
Stay cool, be well, and watch for poison ivy around the edges. Better yet, take the boat and go out to the swim platform. It’s a good day to hang out there under the umbrella, read a book, and go for a swim to cool off.