My Land in Maine

Photos ©Peter Mansbach, no commercial use without written permission

In 1966, while I was in grad school in Massachusetts, I bought a forest in Maine, 40 acres worth, as a weekend destination. This was on Wilson Pond Rd in North Monmouth, about halfway between Lewiston and Augusta. Lovely country, rolling hills, some lakes, some nearby dairy farms. Some photos of the area are at the bottom of this page. The land was about a mile from Wilson Pond, which is a six mile long lake.

So my girlfriend and I built a small cabin, to stay in. There was no electricity, and we had to build the cabin entirely with hand tools. Some friends helped too. Took the whole summer, working roughly every other weekend. Oh, and I didn't have a car, so we drove up and back on a motorcycle.

The cabin (photo at left) was an A-frame, 8 ft by 12 ft, raised on stilts so the floor wouldn't rot. We did spring for attractive asphalt shingles for the roof. We had a little "triangle window" at the top, to let in light, and a large 3' x 4' plexiglas window in the rear. There was a small loft in the rear, for storage. We built in a bench, by the back window. To save space, the table was hinged and folded up to the rafters. That way we could sleep four (if they were good friends!) crosswise on the floor. For evening light I got a battery-powered fluorescent light, and a truck battery to power it for several evenings at a time.

Since I was studying astrophysics, I had bought a small reflecting telescope with a 6" mirror. To use it in Maine, I built a tiny observatory to protect it from the weather during the weekend (I didn't leave it there between visits). The observatory had a roof that was hinged at both ends, and just touching at the top (with flashing over the seam). So the roof could be opened to use the telescope. We painted the walls to match the roof of the cabin. Images below, with a poem I wrote around that time.

After we moved to Washington, DC, we continued to visit because my inlaws lived in the Boston area. But after my divorce I didn't get up there much, and they kept raising taxes on the land, to exhorbitant levels for non-residents. So I was finally forced to sell it in 1996.

The Stars in Maine

Poem ©Peter Mansbach, no commercial use without written permission

I used to go to Maine,
To my land in Maine,
My forty acres of trees and brush.
I had cleared some space,
Cut down trees and some of the brush,
And built a platform
From which to see the stars.

It was quiet at night in Maine,
And peaceful being there alone.
It was dark at night in Maine.
The trees and brush merged with the black sky,
And nothing at all could be seen except the stars.

I looked at the stars.
I knew their names, then,
Castor and Pollux, Altair, Deneb,
And even the ancient Arabic names,
Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali.
These bright start shone steady,
Familiar, and easy to recognize.

But on top of them,
Covering the sky in all directions,
Were millions of faint stars,
Visible and sparkling.
And even these faint stars made contrast
With the dark, still blackness of the sky.

I could also see the Milky Way,
A lighter band of sky, sprinkled with stars,
Meandering across the blackness
Like a canyon carved by rivers in the sky--
And always still.
This I remember most about the Milky Way,
That it was so still, so steady.

I gazed at it for hours, unchanging.
My soul was then both here on earth
And there, eons away,
In the star-filled reaches of the galaxy.
I remember still that sensing
Of the quiet of the earth,
And of the vast deep stillness of space.

And I remember my dreams,
Those dreams that shed their bonds to the earth
To soar among the multitudes of stars--
Those stars were my dreams.
My soul remains behind there still,
There, on my land in Maine,
And there, eons away, among the stars.

Jupiter, through this telescope

A Few Photos of the Area

Ward Rd, opposite the edge of my land

The farm across Ward Rd, and the hills beyond

A resident of that farm

Wilson Pond

Browse the land today (Google maps satellite view - I haven't been back since 1996).
Most of the houses are new.

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