A Perfect Summer Day, Rangeley + Oquossoc
This article was also published at TheCommonerMagazine.com.
I consider Rangeley, Maine, the land time forgot.
Nestled in the state’s western mountains, just a 3-hour drive north from Portland (Maine’s largest city), Rangeley makes you feel you are much further away.
It is sparsely populated, tree-laden, and sprinkled with lakes, both enormous and tiny, ponds, rivers and streams.
Rangeley is a mecca for outdoor activity in all four of our seasons.Visitors pass through as they hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Mount Katahdin further north in Maine.
In the depths of winter, they ski at Saddleback Mountain, snow mobile through miles of wooded wilderness, ice fish, snow shoe, and cross-country ski. Its camps and lake houses are built by owners as much for winter activities as lazy summer days.
They come to leaf-peep in the fall. Columbus Day in October is my favorite time to be at the lake when the air feels and smells different than it does in summer, activities have quieted preparing for our season of hibernation, and brilliantly colored maple leaves drop from branches and float along with the current like tiny boats for lady bugs.
Although we head to the shore close to our home nearly every week in summer, it is at the lakes in Maine that I am most fulfilled and at peace. We have rented lake houses nearly every summer since our sons were born and the last dozen years were spent in the small town of Rangeley which comprises the villages of Oquossoc, Haines Landing and South Rangeley.
The first year we came, renting on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, was when I coined the phrase "the land time forgot" due to the gigantic boulders lining the lake and lying just under the water’s surface. I had never seen rocks so large. At the far end of the lake, there were untouched acres of woods, flanked with these boulders, and I could envision dinosaurs tramping past them. I had never experienced being so alone, and small, in nature.
A perfect summer day for me was in 2011, July, Loon Lake, Rangeley, Maine.
We were renting a lake house there for our annual summer vacation – Away at a Camp in Maine.
That particular lake house is a perfect fit for me – I love it. The solitude and privacy of the wooded property; the lake that doesn’t allow motor boats due to how shallow and rocky it is; the wildness of the landscape, ungroomed, with a solitary Adirondack chair strategically placed on a tiny bluff, in the trees on the lakeshore. There’s a tiny black metal breakfast table with two chairs we can easily bring down on the dock with our morning coffee. The décor of the log home is precisely my taste; the kitchen is outfitted for cooks. I have better pans on vacation than I do at home.
At Loon Lake, there are miles of unpaved roads we can walk that pass wildflowers, hidden ponds, and moose.
On my perfect summer day, we kayaked early morning to the far end of the lake. It was already getting hot.That end of the small lake has no camps, no roads, no outside access. It’s pristine wilderness.
The quiet on that summer morning was like nothing I had ever experienced. There was no one around except us. A mountain loomed to my right.Water bugs skittled across the surface of the flat calm of the lake water. I could occasionally see a fish swim languidly beneath my paddle.
We floated, not paddling, not speaking. Drinking it all in. The magic of this wilderness.
My older son was doing an internship at Universal Records in New York City that week; he couldn’t join us that year at the lake.
We paused to consider how different his morning looked, felt, sounded, smelled….compared to ours.
It’s a morning, I will never forget.
A perfect summer day in Maine.