Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roxanne and the Connection to Nature

A big park is proposed for the North Maine Woods. There was a bigger park proposed. Roxanne Quimby generously offered what to most of us would be a vast land holding to establish the park. I heard her speak on public TV about her efforts to create this wonderful resource. I've heard other opinions. What is missing from the debate is an acknowledgment of the deeper reason why some, particularly those who live in the North Maine Woods, resist the idea of a park.

Their concerns are usually portrayed as just about paper mill and wood harvesting jobs, or the opportunity to hunt, fish and tool around on snowmobiles and 4-wheelers. I think the real reason is that people who live in these areas value something a lot more fundamental than paper mill jobs and deer hunting. I believe residents are and want to remain part of the ecosystem. This means more than kayaking on days off from the office, skiing, leaf peeping and hiking.

This means the basic human interaction with the environment that goes on when we make our living in some way connected to the natural environment. It almost sounds crazy doesn't it? Our veggies come from Chile, electronics from Asia, retail and restaurant chain jobs from some other state, benefit checks from Augusta and Washington. What kind of loonie thinks that we can live and draw our living from our own surroundings?! I think many of us still have a deep-seated sense that we are part of the land, including our activities that take resources from the woods, the ocean, the soil, even when daily life doesn't look much that way.

A park would turn the whole ecosystem into an exclusive playground and sealed off nature exhibit. People are no longer welcome to live there. It's about a whole lot more than post WWII industry or deer camp or snowmobile trails. That's the part I think Roxanne and other park proponents just do not perceive.

I am fortunate enough to live in a place where we still interact with nature in our immediate vicinity to make our lives. It shouldn't be such an anomaly.

A few weeks ago, I drove into my home town through a back road and saw woods, fields and streams- a very rich environment. I looked at the homes and could see very little evidence of a connection between the human occupancy and the blessings of the land. But I know it's there, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels it.


  1. Sorry Nat, but gotta disagree. A lot of those park neighbors are more interesting about polluting the proposed park with noise from snowmobiles and 4-wheelers, dumping tires and old refrigerators on out-of-way paths, and leaving beer cans, cigarette butts and shotgun shells littering the landscape. They expect "somebody" (as in "Not me!") to tend to the land and put out fires and pay taxes so their kids can go to school.

  2. Perhaps they deserve to have a rusty fridge and a couple tires in the door yard. After all, its not as easy to get to the "dump" (that transfers fridges and old tires out of state to be liquidated) when you live in the middle of nowhere.

  3. I'm from the same stock as "those" people, and I don't think any of us want to abuse the land, but feel we are part of the ecosystem, beer cans and all. Not all of us have the illusion of tidiness that comes from having someone else cart our material excess off and bury it in a landfill. Your crap goes somewhere. Having to deal with yourself gives a whole new insight into how much of it there is. Matinicus is a place where there is no trash truck to make it all go away. We wash our meat trays, cheese wrappers and other food containers to prep them for recycling.

    Your tone is reflects the disrespect often directed at rural Mainers.