I’ve just finished five days in Abbot Maine in a cabin by Whetstone Pond with my boyfriend, Roy. It’s been a terrific visit. I had initially tried to plan this in October of 2020. The pandemic, at that time, had so many unknowns, that a trip to anywhere beyond my home state of North Carolina seemed foolhardy. I’m glad, in retrospect, it took a year to get here. I feel like I appreciate it more because I anticipated it for over a year. The waiting made it that much better; that, and a good deal of luck with weather and health made it a magical trip.
Here is where I found magic in central Maine:
My summers as a child were spent in New Hampshire. There must have been loons at some point. I don’t remember them. But the minute we arrived at our cabin by the lake, I went out on the deck that sat precariously close to the clear, lapping water of the pond (which would in any other state be called a lake). I heard this echoing, mournful sound reverberating across the pond. It touched me so deeply. It was sad, and mesmerizing, and resolute. Throughout the five days, there were pairs and solo loons swimming on various parts of the pond and their calls and yodels could be heard at all hours of the day or night. There was no pattern. No way to predict when the next cry for attention would come but it was such a magical soundtrack that it punctuated the experience.
There was no way to know eight months ago when I made the reservation what the state of the trees in central Maine was going to be during the first week of October. As we drove to Abbot from North Carolina, the trees started to faintly change as we drove through Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Upon arriving in Abbot, they were just coming into the burnt orange, buttery yellows and crimson reds. As we looked out over the lake and drove north towards Moosehead Lake, the colors became vivid and vibrant. It was like turning up a dimmer switch with the peak of the color coming the day before we planned to leave; the afternoon sun sinking and becoming a spotlight to enhance the colors as if on cue. The mountain tops and lakeside trees stood in line to take a bow in full fanfare. The tree right next to the deck of the cabin lets its leaves loose to float down like snowflakes onto the water below. The leaves had shown up magically and brightly.
The water on the pond was in a constant state of change. I was excited to wake up at dawn to see what present awaited me as the sun started to illuminate the landscape. One morning the pond was still, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. There was just a sliver of a sunrise bolstered by a dark blue sky and waters. The next day, a misty fog swept up the water and created a lavender smoke floating across the water in wafting billows. The third day, we kayaked across the water and saw the willows and lily pads and an otter swimming across the pond. Water can be still, or glistening in the sun, or creating white caps from the wind. It’s never the same experience from moment to moment. It’s hypnotizing with its magic.
There was a stillness there. A quiet that enveloped everything. No trains, no cars, no airplanes or trucks. The lapping of water at the pond’s edge, the tick of a clock, the footfall on crushing leaves on the deck, the heater turning on or the pump for the water; those were the only disturbances to the silence. It was a quiet that brings you into the present moment. It brought me back to the time of my childhood, sleeping on a cot in the cabin I lived in with my parents at Camp DeWitt, where moments seemed long and hung in the air with the lack of distraction. The quiet was magical.
It was a sensory experience in Maine. The smell of pine while hiking a trail, the visual kaleidoscope of autumnal color, the echoes of loons across the pond, the need for a sweatshirt to stay warm in a cabin and the unadulterated view of the milky way on a moonless night. It was magic and I wish I could have bottled it up and taken it home.