Shadows

Jerry Pond Camps in north-central Maine

From time to time a gentle breeze could be felt brushing against my face as I walked quietly away from the plane floating serenely on the calm water.  The air was warm and relatively still other than the occasional light wind—this only accentuated the quietness of the surrounding forest.  When the breeze did make its way down from the blue, late summer sky, I was able to hear its passage through the tall pines and spruce that lined the shoreline; it sounded soothing, a rhythm only Mother Nature could produce.  Although the intense sensations I’d been accustomed to just minutes earlier; the sights, sounds and smells of powered flight were very recent in my mind—they were slowly fading, being replaced instead by the calmness of the sporting camps and the stillness of the surrounding forest.

It still felt as though I was an uninvited guest, trespassing at a location reserved only for family or close friends, the shadows and stillness only making the feeling that much stronger.  Of course I wasn’t really.  A granddaughter of the master carpenter that built these cabins decades ago had given me permission to tie my seaplane to the boat dock and explore the property.  The builder’s handiness with wood and woodworking tools was becoming more and more apparent as I walked quietly towards the sturdy, rugged cabins.  His granddaughter—Rae, very generously allowed me the opportunity to explore the cabins and her family’s land along the shore of Jerry Pond in the woods of northern Maine.  My intent was to not only look over the property and get a feel of its character, I would also hopefully be snapping a few photos which would then be shared with Rae—several hundred miles away in an environment much different than the one I was standing in.  You gotta understand, this young lady hadn’t been to this remote location for quite some time and really wanted to “see” the camps she and her siblings grew up in, the beautiful location they all remembered so fondly.  Rae had thousands of memories of her childhood, growing up at her grandparents sporting camps, but she was really yearning to see them in their present state for nostalgia reasons of course…but also purely out of curiosity, wondering what had changed and what had remained the same.  Knowing she wouldn’t be able to visit them anytime soon, Rae enlisted my help to see them again; anything she could do to help ease the longing she felt when thinking of her grandfather and their mutual love of these cabins and the surrounding woods.

What appeared to be the main lodge was directly ahead of me and everything looked in good repair and well taken care of.  There currently was no one at these camps, Rae had told me her dad was in the area hunting black bear the previous day but would be leaving after the days hunt.  On this particular day there was no one within sight, nor was there any sounds associated with man—no chainsaws, no motors, no voices…nothing but that breeze caressing the branches high above me, the sounds of fluttering sparrows and the ever present low chirp and buzz of crickets and grasshoppers.  These were sounds that could easily be lost to the subconscious by calling them “background noise,” but I prefer to hear every bit of the background noise I can and made it a point to try and identify each sound individually as my ears captured them.

As I softly crept up to the front entrance of the main cabin I noticed a small book hanging from a string near the door.  It was obviously a visitor’s log of sorts and I immediately felt a desire to open it, read and it, and make my own entry in it.  It was as though the log was drawing me to it, so strange but true.  I could only imagine the secrets held within the binding of this small, hardcover book.  Now with this recent discovery and feeling like a modern day Indiana Jones, I moved across the small porch to grasp the logbook hanging in the warm mid-day sun, the deck’s boards creaking slightly.  As I reached out and touched the metal clip holding the small book I immediately felt a static shock—hearing the snap emanating from my finger tips.  Suddenly I felt different and the relative quietness of my surroundings slowly started fading away and subtlety being replaced with the sounds of children laughing and playing innocently as children often do.  Even more strangely, I could smell the morning’s breakfast wafting through open windows, almost tasting the savory bacon that seemed to be melting on my tongue.  This was all very strange and unexpected but it did not feel alarming like I would have expected it to.  Instead, these sensations seem very natural and very, very real.  Behind me I could hear a canoe being slid into the cool waters, perhaps by an enthusiastic guide and his “sport” heading out for some late morning fishing at a secret “honeyhole” hidden somewhere on Jerry Pond.  These sounds were slowly being replaced by a far away A.M. radio playing a very familiar song from my own childhood in the mid 70s, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy!” came belting out of the tiny speaker and the easily recognizable voice of John Denver was added to the “background noise.”

But how could I feel all these things, how could I taste and hear these things when I was the only human within twenty miles?  The sensations were very strong and I could swear I “saw” Rae’s grandfather working in his shop, hunched over a pressing camp project, and humming along quietly to the radio.  As I quickly spun around however, on the front porch of that cabin I could see once again that it was just me, the crickets and a few song birds here on this warm August day.  Even with this obvious realization that I could not possibly be seeing things from over forty years ago, I still knew I was not totally alone.  Although an unusual event such as this would normally be disconcerting to a more rational person, this was not the case today and I felt safe and incredibly happy as these emotions washed over me.  It was almost as if I was being put at ease by an unseen but totally friendly force, one that was present but not seen.

I replaced the ink pen into the pages of the logbook and released the book to once again hang in the soft breeze until touched by the next set of hands to come along somewhere down the line.  As I turned to walk away I never had the slightest inkling that I was being guided off the porch and down its few stairs by a gentle soul no longer walking this world’s pathways.  And of course there was no way to know I had signed the book with my name—but dating it 9/25/76.  That would be impossible given I would have only been six years old…

Thank you Rae, this was a wonderful day.

Author: Shawn R Michaud

I've flown airplanes since I was a teenager and retired from the United States Navy after over 24 years of service. Now I fly commercially in addition to flying my Super Cub for fun.

2 thoughts on “Shadows”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s