Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
Where in Maine?
Every month when my copy of Down East arrives, I turn to the mystery picture and take a guess. The May issue was the easiest ever. My grandfather bought a camp on Webb Lake about a hundred years ago and though I was raised in the Midwest, my family would journey to Weld for a few weeks each year. Climbing Tumbledown Mountain was a must. We always thought the pond on top was the crater of an extinct volcano. The granite outcroppings on the summit have wavy striations that look like molten lava after it hardened. The boulders we see in Webb Lake, and all around Weld, look like balls of lava that were shot out of the Tumbledown volcano — at least that was what we were convinced was the case (with my father’s help). Today, geologists tell us that the boulders and the striations are the work of glaciers, but a few of us who have spent endless summers in Weld know the real story. Our annual trek up Tumbledown is to marvel at this “volcano,” the bottomless core now filled with water.
In 1975, while attending Bangor Seminary, I became the student pastor at the Congregational Church in Weld, a position I held for two and a half years. In the late spring of 1975 I hiked up Tumbledown Mountain to see “Crater Pond.” It was a hot day, so I stripped off my clothes, and jumped in to swim to the island. The water was really cold, so before swimming back, I laid on the rocks to warm up, and dozed off. When I awoke there were a number of women — a bird-watching group, a hiking group on an excursion, whatever — on the bank looking out to the island. All I could do was roll over and wait, hoping that none of them showed up in church the next morning!
—Rev. Dr. Alan Cutter
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Back to the Beach
“The long curve of beach beckons into the distance.” Thank you for the gem that is Kim Ridley’s essay “Back to the Beach” in your May issue. Every sentence takes me back to early mornings and sunset evenings when light, color, smells, and sounds compelled me to the ocean’s edge on a southern Maine beach. As I read, I waded with the author across, in my case, the mouth of a tidal brook, mindful of the tide’s return. I always walked in the water, perhaps pausing on the jetty where all my senses absorbed the ocean, its life and creatures. Every word Kim Ridley wrote is eloquent and exactly right in truth and beauty — a treasure to keep. I am grateful to her and for the gifts of memorable summer mornings and evenings on the beach.
—June A. Knowles
In your May issue, the “My Maine” essay about discovering buffalo in Blue Hill Bay contained inaccurate information concerning the lands owned by the National Park Service (NPS). The essay said that Long Island within Blue Hill Bay was owned by the NPS and has been turned into a nature preserve. This is not true. The entire island is under private ownership. In 1995, the NPS purchased two conservation easements on the island. The easements are a type of land interest, but are not ownership of the land. The purpose of a conservation easement is to permanently conserve lands for future generations, while still being under private ownership for limited development use. The easements on Long Island allow for limited public access to a large portion of the undeveloped areas of the island. These easements also allow the NPS to manage and patrol, along with the owners, public use of lands. However, public access is not allowed on specific areas along the western shore (of which several are developed with homes or cabins).
Another small point of clarification: The conservation easements did require the bison to be relocated off the island in order to protect the natural resources from the bison. The family that brought the bison to the island removed all of them in 1997.
—Emily Seger Pagan
Land Resource Specialist
Bar Harbor, Maine
I just opened the May issue and read the “Editor’s Note.” Who would have thought the humble, albeit delicious, whoopie pie would create a national sensation? I’m from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the capital of Pennsylvania Dutch Country with the PA Dutch Visitors Bureau two miles from my home. (The state capital, Harrisburg, is in another county.) For at least fifty-nine of my sixty-one years, I’ve enjoyed whoopie pies from many of our local Amish bakers. Chocolate, oatmeal, pumpkin, chocolate chip, or sugar, they are all fantastic. I’ve also enjoyed Maine’s whoopie pies while vacationing in Maine. To be honest, I can’t say that one is better than the other. So I may be committing treason to my great state, but I honestly believe that if Maine wants the whoopie pie as the state snack, go for it! After all, we still have wet-bottomed shoofly pies!
As a life-long resident of Pennsylvania (whose parents have lived in Woolwich, Maine, for the past eight years), I have taken a somewhat amused interest in the raging whoopie pie controversy between our two states. Although Pennsylvania may lay claim to this treat, I must admit that I have rarely seen these desserts outside of Lancaster County and the Pennsylvania Dutch area. In fact, the first whoopie pie I ever tasted was in Maine. I have visited Maine almost as long as I have lived in Pennsylvania and nowhere is it more popular than in Maine. Each year, my parents drive south for Christmas, bringing the whoopies with them for the family to enjoy. This Maine treat has definitely become part of our Pennsylvania traditions! Whether or not the whoopie originated in Pennsylvania is a moot point. There is no doubt that Maine has turned the whoopie pie into the widespread delight that it is today. So come on, Keystone State, lighten up and let Maine have the whoopie! Oh, and one more thing, there’s a good chance my treasonous opinions might get me kicked out of Pennsylvania. Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this, have the spare room ready. I might need it!
Mountain Top, Pennsylvania
Power of Wind
I feel compelled to weigh in on Maine’s controversy over wind power, the subject of your March feature package, and my advice to you is: Quit whining. You guys, at least, still have your mountains! Unlike here in Virginia and West Virginia where our beautiful, scenic mountains are being systematically obliterated, our rivers and streams filled and/or polluted until there is no longer any life, all for the coal you think you need to power all your electronic gadgets. There is only one answer to this energy problem and that is conservation! This old earth of ours provides enough for our needs but not for our greed. We all need to reconsider our lifestyles in order to not put further strain on our rapidly depleting natural resources so that no one has to be inconvenienced by wind generators and no more mountains sacrificed.
—Martha H. Cempe