To Return To Relishing

Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Sunday, July 25, 2010

           DAY THIRTY-SIX:  We leave Quebec after a visit to the supermarket.  The border at Jackman, Maine, is some kind of granite outpost of harbored rage, to witness in the form of a grizzled station agent who fancies himself a sort of Harry Calhoun, ever waiting for that big border drug bust.  Surely he licks his chops at sight of our slightly warped and dirtied yellow boos for he handles us like children and nary cracks a smile in spite of my endless wellspring of wit and humor.  Nevertheless, and after an exhaustive search through Pearl that results in a bus much more organized than we could have arranged, we break through the border, pockets and hidden passages spilling over with psychedelics and narcotics and uppers and sundowners and candelabras and whistler's mother and mothra and honestly not a mote of any of these things, and pull straight up to a mum 'n pup grocer for a spot of lunch.

            The place is hand-made and friendly.  He sells spongy hot dogs on white bread for seventy-nine cents, and Cornbread gets a roastbeef dagwood, which is whatever it is.  I get some broccoli salad with bacon, mayonnaise, raisins, sunflower seeds, and almond slivers and you don’t care!  But it’s cool because they bake everything they sell, and they care about what they’re doing, and they’re cheap.  We feel good omens from Maine.

            By night we find a pull-off in the middle of nowhere and manage to hide our thirty yellow feet amongst the thistles and brambles (I don’t know what a bramble is, but I like injecting it into my text as Tom Waits uses it in one of my favorite songs).  There’s a slight dusty decline, nature’s boat launch, that leads to the river, and we arrange rocks in a circle while foraging for firewood.  With a hatchet in my hands, I take to the woods with a fury and hack bits of timber each and every way until my palm blisters.  Soon we’re all taking the rotten trunks and throwing them against rocks, feeling them splinter in our hands; we follow The Beard’s lead and try to flip the axe into the tree stump, and I can’t do it, but I only send wooden sparks flying in my efforts: we’re like the Brawny Men, which is an allusion that undermines any masculinity that might have been discovered herein, but that’s okay because no one likes a dirty or soggy fellow, either.  The night unfolds on the river, cooking a camper’s stir-fry with steak and vegetables, soy sauce and quinoa, while working on our Beach Boys harmonies and emptying a bottle of Quebecois-style fortified wine.  My flip-flops slip and slop walking up the grade at night, and I trip all over myself like a fool.  It is here that the aforementioned epic debate occurs between Cornbread and myself, and Tristan often chimes in to clarify my positions on occasion, something for which I’m appreciative, and like anything, all of our relationships are sharpening at the hilt of a knife, so to speak.  Even when we’re arguing, or when I’m getting shit for my questionable driving abilities, there’s still a prevailing feeling that everyone has a depth of respect for one another, and the night ends with buckets of harmonicas and vocals, the cajon teetering on a rocky edge, our brains slightly mushy and euphoric. 

            I cozy up on the roof; the air is neither hot nor cool, and I quickly peel off whatever protective garments I’d brought with me and dive into my sleeping bag all doglike.  It’s something truly special to spend a night without cover, even if this is in a upper-middle-class conservative liberal superficially rejecting his suburban upbringing while going around in circles for a few years, slowly draining his Bar Mitzvah savings to be with nature at a safe and escapable distance, not in a wistful riding of box cars, having lost wife and savings, having only dog, smoking used cigarette butts, eating apple cores and wet old newspapers sort of way, or even in a prescribed, unavoidable, and fearful olive drab and rushing red sprawled on a foreign malaria beach way, either.  It nevertheless spikes one’s blood to be on top of a mountain of your own construction, perched below the universe, the trees raining kissing leaves down gently onto one’s eyelids as you sleep, then waking in the morning to watch the clouds drift by, logs on a river, from the crevasse between the treetops, which seem to bend inward, they’re so tall.  The sky doesn’t get dark here as it had back west, and so the stars don’t seem to twinkle as before, but the days are crisp and sharp and the ground is all trampled in the best of ways.
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