Fournier's Book Is a Great Maine Read
Paul Fournier hooked me with his first sentence: “I was fifteen that summer when first love struck.” His first love was a 17 foot long Old Town canoe.
On the third page of Paul’s new book, Tales from Misery Ridge, (Islandport Press, 2011) he started to reel me in when he purchased his second canoe – at age 17 – from Leon Prince of North Monmouth. Leon was my wife’s grandfather, and when I read Paul’s words describing her grandfather to her, Lin said he had captured her twice-widowed grandfather exactly.
Paul noted that Leon was “a small, genial, lonesome gentleman in oversize overalls. Contrary to the stereotype of taciturn rural Maine folk, he was downright garrulous.”
Lin says her grandfather was all of that, as well as an exceptional piano player. He even taught her to cook. And in our area of central Maine where Lin and I both grew up, Leon was famous for his canoes.
My very-understanding wife drove most of the way to Campbello, where we planned to spend the first weekend of October, so I could continue reading Paul’s book. It was that, or read while I drove!
I doubt that you will set this book aside after you begin reading. Fournier’s life experiences are many and varied, from sporting camp owner and guide to bush pilot to his 20-year stint as public information officer for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, from 1980 to 2000.
In chapter two, Trophy Salmon, Paul reeled me in with a tale of a 9-pound Landlocked salmon. I caught one that big once – in Quebec. Paul’s story of this huge Maine salmon is astonishing – and that’s all I will say, because the ending will knock you over. Wow!
The longest chapter relates the incredible, arduous, and ultimately disappointing effort in 1986 to restore Caribou to Maine. This chapter reads like a novel, compellingly told. I learned a lot from this book.
I thought I knew everything there was to know about spawning brook trout, until I read Paul’s account. Throughout the book he blends interesting factual presentations with entertaining stories.
Paul got in on the last of the ice cutting days, at Nugent’s Sporting Camps, and I found that chapter – Crystal Harvest - particularly fascinating. “During the 1890s,” he writes, “the average Kennebec ice harvest exceeded three million tons annually, worth over $36 million.”
From rampaging bears to giant brook trout, bush flying to treks down the Allagash, this book moves along faster than our spring-flooded rivers. It’s a great ride.