No sooner had we shipped our November issue — that's the one with"Maine's Most Dangerous Jobs" on the cover — to the printer than I suffered my own work-related injury. (No, it wasn't a paper cut.) While hiking in Baxter State Park, doing research for a story, I took a tumble and broke the thumb and wrist of my left hand. A minute later, stumbling in pain, I fell again and tore a tendon in my shoulder. I happened to be alone at the time (a no-no in the wild), which made my slog back to camp all the more aggravating. My hand subsequently swelled up the size of a catcher's mitt, and even now I am reduced to typing with five digits.
Now this story will come as no surprise to those who know me. Let's just say that I've had my share of wilderness misadventures. When I was twenty-one and stupid, I badly sprained both ankles on the first day of a four-day ascent of the Presidential Range — and continued hiking. The next year, camped on Baldpate Mountain above Grafton Notch, my friends and I were rather infamously struck by lightning [Down East, May 1989]. (It's amazing how few people, even now, choose to stand near me during electrical storms.) In subsequent years I've been "turned around," as the woodsmen say, overnight in the driving rain. And nearly washed over waterfalls while fly-fishing. About the best I can say for myself is that, as yet, I have never personally needed rescuing. Knock wood.
Hearing of my latest injury, Down East contributing editor Edgar Allen Beem remarked: "I try to do my part for the wilderness by staying out of it." Would that it were so easy for me. Since I was a boy, I have hiked and camped and hunted and fished. And while it's true that my favorite smell remains that of the sea, my favorite place is beneath the pines along a river, somewhere up north.
Thanksgiving is still some weeks away, and I know that this year I will be thankful my accident was not worse (and even now I'm on the mend). But I will also be thankful for the many hours I have been fortunate to spend in my favorite place, the North Woods. I hope you will feel the same thankfulness when you think of your own special place in Maine.
Happy holidays from your friends at Down East.