Personal Best: Place to Listen to a Red Sox Game
Stranded in Highland Plantation while my husband fly-fished under the expert eye of Master Maine Guide Greg Drummond of Claybrook Mountain Lodge, I had nonetheless spent a pleasant afternoon birding the surrounding woods with our friend Ron. Greg and Ron had gone to high school together in Waterville, and over an early dinner they shared hilarious stories of their misspent youth - including a tale about a guy they knew who had once climbed a tree and perched inside an eagle's nest high over the Kennebec. Greg's wife, Pat, served up an amazing meal, as usual, followed by homemade apple pie A la mode for dessert. And then it was time for my husband and Greg to head to Pierce Pond for [for the rest of this story, see the January 2008 issue of Down East]the dusk Hexagenia hatch, a July phenomenon in which a type of mayfly hatches all at once, the flies rising to the water's surface at the same time, inspiring a fish feeding frenzy - and a fisherman's fantasy. It only happens on certain nights at certain times of the year, and according to Greg, now was the time. Intrigued by such a singular event, I decided to join them.
The drive to Pierce Pond was long and winding, involving several dirt roads that passed swampy patches where I kept looking for moose. We arrived as several other fishermen were putting in and quickly got in two canoes - my husband and Greg, the serious fishermen, in one; Ron and I in the other. Sure enough, the Hex hatch began on cue. We heard tiny pops all around us as the flies rose to the surface, and, occasionally, we would see the silvery flash of a body followed by a widening circle of rings in the water as a trout rose to engulf a fly. While my husband and Greg cast strategically and with stern intent, Ron and I drifted nearby, gossiping, casting out a line now and then, enjoying the summer evening.
Darkness gradually deepened around us and stars began to reflect on the pond's face. At one point, we heard a loud snuffle of breath near us as an otter swam past. My husband hooked a fish, then lost it. We could hear boat motors in the distance. Then it was time to head in.
Suddenly, Ron had a fish on his line, the line he had negligently cast in and almost forgotten. He set the hook, then let me reel in his catch - a good-sized landlocked salmon. I'd never before caught a fish larger than about three inches, so reeling in the strong, tossing salmon was inordinately exciting for me. We packed the fish on ice and piled back into Greg's pick-up truck to begin the long, bumpy drive back to the lodge.
Someone thought to put on the radio, to see if we could tune in that night's Red Sox game. Surprisingly, given that we were in the middle of the woods of western Maine, the game came in loud and clear. Now I was not a baseball fan at this point. Although I had played baseball as a child, I preferred watching football, enjoying the continuous, chaotic action. Baseball seemed too slow, nothing seemed to happen. But that night, crammed in with these good friends, I felt like one of the guys. I even remembered enough about childhood baseball that I could follow the game.
Flush from the dreamy experience of night fishing during a Hex hatch, sleepy from the day's varied activities and the huge supper we'd shared earlier, I was both lulled and fascinated by the game. Baseball wasn't slow, I realized then - it was just the right, meditative pace for this beautiful evening; just the right thing to end a day spent tromping around the Maine woods, in a truck bumping along in the dark as fireflies sparked in the weeds alongside, as the Big Dipper slowly rose over the pines, and moose or bear potentially lurked around each corner.
I think Pedro was pitching that night - this was 2003 - and later that season he was to break my heart in the playoffs. But ever since that magical night, I've been hooked like the salmon on Ron's line, a true Red Sox fan.
And I still feel happiest when I can listen to a game while driving some rural road on the way back from another satisfying wilderness adventure in the backwoods of Maine.
Kristen Lindquist works in her hometown of Camden for a land trust, where all her co-workers also appreciate the beauty of both Maine's natural heritage and a good baseball game.