Thursday, October 7, 2010

Common Ground Fair, and beyond!

Alright, I am now sitting in the home of Molly and Doug in Sedgwick, ME, right on the Atlantic Coast.  There is rain, once again, and I was fortunate to have mostly missed it in my biking!  I can lay low here in good company, and update the blog.

When the story last left off, I think I had just come into Unity, Maine.  I found "Crosstrax," the self-described "locavore hub," bakery, deli, produce market, cafe, and ice cream shop.  I met some folks from the Maine Primitive Skills School (in Augusta), and also this nice fellow from Minnesota (I still have yet to meet a Minnesotan who isn't swell).  It was approaching sunset as I was about to set off for the woods near Unity College to camp, but William (from MN) offered his back yard, right down the road.  Much easier!  Did some laundry and slept soundly.  The next day, I stopped by Crosstrax again, discovered/played a piano, met another Primitive Skills fellow, tried out his fixed-gear bike while he tried out my ride, and then set off for the fair!

After a quick ride in the country, I came upon a big open field, roped off for parking, and swung around to the "main" entrance to the MOFGA fairgrounds.  MOFGA = Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association = creators and organizers of the fair.  There was an open gate, and as I passed through it, looking out on tents, buildings, gardens, and trees, I felt like I had "made it" somewhere!  Woohoo!  I rode around the inner perimeter of the fairgrounds, smiling at friendly-looking volunteers and bicycling children, surveying the place, before I asked where to go!

I was directed to the office, where I was asked if I had any soldering experience.  I said I had soldered a toy train once, probably 15 years ago with my brother.  That was sufficient for their needs, and I was sent out back to the radio shack, where Tristan showed me 100 waning batteries that were being reworked from radio use to power temporary light fixtures.  My job was to solder stripped wires to each one of them, and he would work out the rest.  With some pointers from Tristan, I got in the groove of it, and besides a break for lunch, I soldered for 7 hours straight!!  Then on to dinner ... I got there late, but there was plenty of food left.  These MOFGA folks don't mess around with meals!  Mostly donated foods from smaller organic operations in the area.  At dinner, I met Paul, a 40-yr-old psychologist from Massachusetts who would show me the ropes of volunteer life, and become a good friend!  I hadn't set up camp yet, so he directed me to site #28 in the woods, where he always had wanted to camp, but he was attached "his" regular site, further in.  As it was dark, I had to trust that it was as swell as he suggested, and I set up camp.

As I got to sleep, I knew it was going to be a good festival.  There were only a couple dozen staff and volunteers floating around, but lots of tents up, and it was clear that a lot had gone into organizing all year.  I picked up a schedule for the workshops during the fair, and was overwhelmed with the options .... everything from low-impact forestry to sheep dog demonstrations to seed saving to polarity therapy to knot tying to stories from indian residential school to edible landscaping.  4 stages of music, with wandering entertainers; tents and tents full of Maine craftspeople, artists, businesses, and food growers; stables of horses/cows/sheep/goats/rabbits/chickens/etc; and the exhibition of hall with a county fair-style vegetable competition.

A full day of Fair setup!  I woke up in the middle of the night before, wide awake, to a nearly full moon - tons of clear thoughts racing through my head.  At sunrise I had some breakfast in the kitchen and then was assigned to Noel's (Excalibur's) electrical crew.  I worked with Stu laying out power boxes for the various tents.  After lunch, Vick joined us - a jolly musician fellow with a lot of great stories from his navy, runner, gypsy, long-distance mover, and farm lives.  I got some lessons from Stu in wiring, and began to feel like an apprentice electrician!  Then strung lights, lifted some things, and helped out with Paul's carpentry project at the Shop.  Dinner was a potluck with all of the Fair organizers/staff - a lot of people to make it happen!  Updates and new features from every section of the fair.  I did begin to wonder if maybe Mainers are even more reserved with their emotions than are upstate newyorkers ....  no conclusions here!  Bright moon, warm night, light breeze!  Who could ask for anything better?

Matthew asked me the night before if I was an early riser, and I said yes - committing me to an Ice run to Bangor at 6:30.  Basically, he had to pick up a big truck, fill it with ice, and drive it back to the fair, and I had to drive his car back.  Good gig!  He's a worldly guy, fun to chat with.  Back at the fairgrounds, I moved tables and chairs to their appropriate locations, riding around in a pickup and lugging here and there.  For a while!  It was good to be using my body again.  At lunch, I ran into Joanne who I'd met this past summer in Ithaca - such a great relief and pleasure to see someone who I hadn't just met!!  More young people were showing up, at this point, including primitive skills folk.  After dinner, I washed dishes with Fred, a veritable old pirate with cheery blue eyes and something to say.

Friday (Fair Day 1)
Rain began after midnight, but my tent stayed cozy and dry!  I woke up late, due to it was rainy.  Walked to breakfast, and things were beginning to pick up.  I stuffed my belly in case I didn't get another free meal (during the fair, you need to have volunteered that day to get meals ... and I chose to go to workshops instead of volunteer!  I figured my 30 hours of work prior had been enough, plus I was staying for clean-up ....).   Then I got myself down to the wood lot for a "Low-Impact Forestry" overview.  It's something I'm hip to, but I was wanting for a more in-depth exploration of the topic.  The next hour (wkshps are scheduled every hour!  usually about 15-25 at a time in various sections), the workshop I was trying to find wasn't happening, so I changed into warmer clothes (it was pretty chilly) and wandered over to watch the sheep dogs do their thing.  First, the handler had some kids try to herd the sheep and goats into a pen, and they did alright.  then he worked his 4 border collies, and it was a pretty awesome to see how they would respond separately to his commands, stalking around the herd, then dropping to the ground in strategic locations.  Impressive.

Next, I went to seed saving 101 with some folks from High Mowing Seeds.  Nothing much new, though I did learn that you can de-hybridize (make open-pollinated) within 7 generations of selection.  Hope against Monsanto, right!  At noon, I went to "Wabanaki Visions," a circle discussion with Barry Dana, former chief of the Penobscot tribe.  He was really quite inspiring, poised, down-to-earth, real, comical, passionate ....  He pointed out (in response to a question - he handled some pretty tricky inquiries) that Native people are inherently different than non-native folks because they are on their ancestral land of Countless generations.  that's neither changeable or replicable - and it has a power that's easy to overlook.  though American culture has become much of the current Indian culture, Barry is drawing on what he learns of Old Ways to move forward with strength as a people.  You need people to have a culture, and you need a place (a sustainable one) to have people.  only then can language, art, and food all exist relevantly ... so he has visions of (re)obtaining sections of connected pieces of land and growing food there.  actions that are vibrant and keep community whole.  anyway ....  a lot of tough questions at hand.  to speak broadly, I would feel fulfilled to help restore native lands to their native people, and then stand aside.  there are, of course, beautiful people and valuable cultures that now exist on the same land (Maine, from 1800 to now ... not perfect, but not irrelevant), so that can't be ignored either.  this is the same issue across the continent, so it deserves more active thought, attention, and action.

I then had a refresher course on making Acorn flour.  What an abundant resource we need to be valuing!!  Get some friends together on a beautiful autumn day (kids, especially), collect all the acorns you can find; crush them in their shells (sing while you do this!) with a big heavy stick, in a bucket; pour the shells and meat into a big container of water - so the shells float and the meat sinks, strain off the shells; place the meats in a place where fresh water can run into and out of the bucket (cover the bucket) for a few days (leech out tannins); drain and dry, then grind into flour.  make bread!
Kevin at the Maine Guides camp showed us how to tie some useful knots - taught hitch, trucker's hitch, and lashings for putting 2-3 sticks together for structures.

I went to a sounds healing demonstration, with a sweet woman who played all of her various instruments (crystal bowls and tuning forks seemed especially swell).  Then she guided a positive affirmation meditation that relaxed me and took me somewhere totally different ... it must've been good, i guess!  then we sounded/sang the tones of each of the chakras.  good time.
the last workshop of the day was with this farmer/researcher fellow, "Full Cycle Farming - Nutritional Pathways from Soil to Plant to Table."  He basically was linking soil vitality with nutrition, but pulling in everything about production ... economics, politics, social needs, no-till methods, reading weeds, using minerals, allocating energy, understanding chemistry .... on and on.  It made a whole lots of sense, and I felt pretty inspired by all of the connections being made.

After all of this, I had a big dinner and chatted with tons of people.  What a great pleasure, to have an abundance of fun folks!  I was feeling really welcomed, and beginning to know a lot of people.  Listened to some fiddle tunes, then slept soundly.

Saturday (Fair Day 2)
When I awoke, I found myself in the middle of a great game.  These three kids were adventuring around the campgrounds, and they declared that I must be "the ghost of Henry Harold," so I did my best to be ghostly, with my hair down, as they tried to kill me with swords (you can't kill a ghost with a sword, you need to use "powers" ... but even that could only temporarily subdue me!).  A few minutes later, after they left and returned, I became a dragon, and could only escape being slain by flying swiftly out of the campground to breakfast.

My workshop regimen began with "13 herbs for Healing," with Ray Reitze.  Ray is a sweet sweet man, exuding humility and peace.  We learned cottonwood, pine, and tamarack for salves, among other things.  Then on to "Woodland Roads and Watercrossings," and "woodland ecology" - both in Low-Impact forestry.  and this fellow talking about "Bioefficiency" ... i got a bit lost in his ramblings, to be honest!

Heard the Penobscot drummers for a powerful song, around a single drum that they all played.  Then Mike from the Primitive skills school in augusta gave a great session on "awareness skills" to about 20 people.  we stood in a circle, learned to fox walk from the body's center, have "soft eyes," listen for the locations of silence, and use deer ears.  then we walked slowly across the fairgrounds, toward the woods.

This fellow gave a talk called "Living the Maine Good Life, circa 1500."  He was a wealth of information about native ethnobotany, etc, but had a pretty disgusting disconnect from the peoples he was discussing (part of my aversion to "anthropology," when practiced poorly).  By that I mean he talked about Native people as though they were gone and dead, a Thing to be studied in retrospective fascination.  And this was in the very same place that Barry Dana led a discussion the day before.

Then, "Around the Story Wheel" with Ray Reitze again, which was more his 'philosophical' teachings.  There aren't many people who can teach about coming from the heart center and love, but Ray can.  Making the mind silent, allowing space for the heart, the present is the only reality!

I caught the "Full Cycle Farming" talk again, and this time it seemed like jumbled nonsense!  So funny and enlightening that someone who totally gets it can on some days have trouble communicating the very same information.  I heard some drumming and cheering in the distance, so I wandered to check it out on the amphitheater stage.  Then I rode an electric bike - fun!  Watched the sunset on the common (big area in the center of the fairgrounds circle), and had dinner.  Reconnected with Dave who I'd met at the rainbow gathering in PA - what a fellow!  Also fan into Claudia, fellow piano major at Ithaca College!  There was a contra dance afterwards, and that's always a good time.  See, the fair officially ends at 5 or 6, and all the shuttles/trains stop running.  So the volunteers, staff, and vendors are all left to hang out and have a good time!  It's like fair #2 every day!

After dancing, the moon was out, and it was decently warm, so I lay on top of the amphitheater wall (big artificial curved mound of earth).  Some folks were rolling down it (during the day, kids sled down it on cardboard), and having a ball, so I joined in, and found it to be instantaneously laughter-inducing, as you tuck your arms in and roll away!  Did that a couple times, napped on the wall until it got too cold, and went to bed.

Sunday (Fair Day #3 - Final Day)
The fair closes swiftly, I found!  But first, I met some nice folks at breakfast, then went to a panel discussion on Public Policy, regarding small food farms and food production - of interest to me, especially from Dancing Turtle's sprout certification fiascos.  The discussion was quite informative.  Maine is not that far behind NY as far as regulations making food production a more challenging affair for the little guys.  Despite all the information, it was really mostly discouraging news and outlook ... some folks in the audience were describing their preemptive efforts, basically making local food networks so small and personal that there would be no way to regulate them.  There seems to be some strength in that.

Back at the Whole Life Tent ("Wabanaki Visions," "Sound Healing," "Story Wheel," etc.), Fredda Paul told of "Healing from Indian Residential School."  I don't know what everybody knows about this most wretched part of American history, but I'll just say that it was not an easy topic to bring into public discussion.  I'm pretty much sobbing right now, in just starting to recall the stories.  Fredda just recently began to tell his wife and a couple close friends about what he experienced from age 5-14 at a "school" in Canada, and this was the biggest group of people he had ever opened up to.  He was given some strengthening energy at the side before he began to speak, then smudged the tent full of people with red willow bark as his wife spoke by way of introduction.
To briefly explain, the residential schools were places run by priests and nuns that were intended to fully eliminate Native culture from the children, and enforce integration into white culture.  The children were beaten for speaking the only language they knew, so were forced to learn English very quickly.  there was horrific abuse of the children, and only very few bright spots of sympathetic nuns.  Fredda was stolen away from his mother by his father who wanted to be rid of him - and driven across the border into Canada with his brother.  He was told his mother had died, and didn't meet his brother again until 10 years later.  He was able to survive school by standing strong with his group of friends, "warriors," as he called them.  But they witnessed so many children hurt and killed.  There were lighter stories, like Fredda befriending a bull, and cleverly escaping the "dungeon."  Really, he kept the stories mild.  This was a first step in healing.  As he said, "Every time I tell my stories, I become stronger, and I heal."
These aren't distant wrongs from centuries ago, this was less than a few decades before today, and the pain is alive.  Indian Residential Schools are a part of America that was never mentioned in school, and I had absolutely no clue until reading "Lakota Woman" in college.  There is so much more to be understood.  The first step to healing is sharing truth and stories.  Heavens.

Well, *breath,* moving forward ... I walked around for some time, saw some horses maneuvering, went back to my tent for warmer clothing, got my bike, and went to the bicycle area for a Fitting workshop.  If you came into the fair by bike, there was a welcoming crew with horns and cow bells to cheer your entry, down the final path.  I should have biked out and back just for this celebration!  Anyway, I ran into Dave AuClair from the bike shop in Augusta, and I became the subject of the bike fitting workshop.  raised the seat up, otherwise mostly in good shape.  Then the bike parade!  We hopped on all sorts of bikes (a bending/foldable one, a tandem, electric, recumbent, foolishly tiny, etc.), lined up 5 abreast, and took to the fairground loop.  Lots of cheering and bell-ringing.  Ha.  Every minute or so, we would stop, start singing random tunes, dance around our bikes, and bow together, to get back on and continue forward.  Check out this brief video of it:

Then a talk about Polarity therapy from two enthusiastic folks.  As I left that, it all of a sudden hit me that the fair was ending, and people were leaving.  I spent the next few hours feeling lost, melancholy, and a little confused!  I ended up talking with a fellow in the education tent who leads the VT semester, which is this fantastic container for real learning and living.  Basically a semester spent skiing the length of vermont while learning skills for winter living.  I was kind of overwhelmed, feeling some wishes that I could have done that in high school!  Didn't know quite what to do with this now ... like i missed the boat, and what could I do at present?  had a bit of an awkward introduction to a fellow doing other interesting primitive skills things.  then waited for Ray to finish talking to someone, and ended up missing him.  ran into Fredda, thanked him for sharing stories, and tried to ask what was in the salve that he had given me (he had a "medicine give-away" as part of the talk), but I asked too indirectly and didn't really get an answer!  Ha, it's just called "Good Medicine."  So under grey skies, my melancholy confusion seemed inescapable, and quickly everyone that had created "the Fair" was disappearing.  like midnight in a pumpkin carriage.

Desperate to talk comfortably to anybody I knew, I ended up missing some goodbyes, then just gave up and went to dinner.  Of course there were good folks and good food there!  "How well does Non-violent communication do with relating to non-living objects?  Not at all!"  But our needs were met.  Did a little kitchen work, and head for bed, reluctantly having to plan the next steps of my journey!

Monday (Clean-up)
Breakfast crowd was sparse.  Met a fellow from Florida who had done lots of sprouting and raw foods for a living, and we folded tent sides for a while.  Then I was assigned to sign collection duties.  After lunch, I got to shovel compostables from the horse and cow stalls, with the help of a tractor and truck.  Then I took the liberty of a much-needed nap in my tent (a good choice for feeling great!).  Dinner was much more intimate, with a group of about 20.  Ellis (volunteer/grounds coordinator extraordinaire), his Irish friend Noel, Vick, Dave, and more of us had some good hearty conversation and laughs.  Then dishes in the kitchen (Dave wants the world to know and come to understand the wisdom of Blue Oyster Cult, specifically "Don't fear the reaper").  I found it was pitch black outside, because there were no longer any vendor lights, and the rain/clouds were obscuring the moonless sky!  Without a light, I was lucky to catch a ride to the woods with Noel, rather than stumble around for a while.

(apologies for the extensive detail, I've ended up basically copying entries from my journal over the last week!)
Hot and muggy in my tent, 60's outside, rainy and windy.  Pretty strange ... I was glad not to be freezing, as could have been the case.  I began to get worried about how I was feeling from stuffing myself with food every day without getting on the bike at all.  Resorted to doing laps once in a while, which felt awesome!  Most of the day, I moved benches with a crew.  Finally, I felt ready to move on, on this day.  Previously, I was feeling a little clueless.  Dinner was steak and cake!  Would anyone be excited about a NASCOW event, if one were staged?  It would involve the aimless racing of cows, among other things ....  I tried to get to my tent in the pitch darkness this night, and got a bit sidetracked once in the woods!  lots of side paths that my feet found ... I was saved my my cell phone light.  Totally alone in the woods again, save some peepers/owls/"wooden frog instrument-"sounding creature.  Glad for the transition time from alone to bustling back to alone.

One final breakfast, which Bill, the resident chef, explained was "eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, canadian bacon, yogurt, and scones.  oh, and cider, coffee, tea, and milk.  but besides that, there's nothing!"  that was a favorite line of his!  I moved some signs with Ellis and shoveled hay for a time.  Then on the road.  Ellis said "Safe journey," which he spoke deeply and gently like a directed prayer, with a little bow.  A nice send-off.  I'll be back, I'm sure!

Biked 45 miles to Solon, where Sarah and Chip live (yurt complex, etc. where I wrote my last update from).  It was a good ride from the fairgrounds.  I accidentally walked into a high school library (it looked like a college campus!).  Some stunning leaf colors, now, intense red specimens, and some places that had a distinct silver hue over the whole area.  I decided that people in Maine are "reasonable."  Not too formal, not too lax.  A fellow stopped to see if I was okay, as I ate by the roadside.  In a gas station, a college-aged girl pinched my butt, which was pretty startling/confusing!  I guess that's what I get for wearing the those ridiculous bike shorts.  I wasn't sure if I should be glad that Mainers aren't too uptight, or if I should be offended!
Sarah and Chip are absolutely great!  Felt very comfortable to hang out with them for a couple days.  The rain was predicted to get to 4," but never really got that much where we were.  Good walks in the woods with Chip and Bodi (dog).  Sarah is an artist in the medium of cloth and sewing!  Chip builds furniture and yurts, and also gave me a professional tune-up on the bike.  The day I left, he drove me a couple miles to the end of the gravel road, which was good because otherwise I would have been late.

Well, I ended up being late anyway ... I had decided to go visit Ray at his home 25 miles away, where he was having a workshop about "Ancient Language," connecting with plants, animals, etc.  It began at 10am, and I gave myself 2.5 hours to get there.  The bike felt great, and I was right on time, so I thought, but I had made a wrong turn on rte 23 ...  I asked a nice fellow for the road, and he ended up giving me a lift over to Ray's place/"Earthways."  I made in there not too late ....

It was a good workshop, lots to work with, lots of silencing to do.

I spent the rest of the day here, harvested some herbs with Nancy (Ray's wife) dug weeds from a couple garden beds, and had dinner with Ray, Nancy, and Andrianna (an "intern/apprentice").  Lovely time in their yurt/hogan, very calm and cheerful.  I slept in the lodge, which smelled of wood fire, herbs, and bark.  Pondered "unidentifying."  In occasions when the mind is overwhelmed by intense beauty, it is essentially silenced.  The mind is a servant of the heart.

Peaceful breakfast, goodbyes, and to the road again.  Found that my muscles were getting tired - a good sign I think, because that means my joints are getting stronger, enough that my muscles can work harder.  Went the through Clinton, ME, onward back through Unity (Crosstrax was closed - no piano!).  Ran into a couple fellow I knew from the fair.  Some people were taking a ride on these sweet little 4-person vehicles that were pedal-powered and rolled on the train tracks!  Pretty much it was a perfect fall day!  Sunny, light breeze, crazy-beautiful colors all around.  Brisk air, small towns, feeling content.  People selling pumpkins at roadside stands.  I felt pretty strong on the bike, actually.  Glad that my muscles and heart got a chance to work!

I was in a town called Brooks, where I stopped a grocery store for very inexpensive dinner food.  I passed a theater and community house, and was thinking what a nice town it was when a guy in his yard looked up and gave a great enthusiastic wave as if he was saying "oh, hey, it's you!!"  Then I saw a hand-painted sign, "Newforest Permaculture Institute: visitors welcome."  They had been at the fair for a couple workshops, but the only one I got to was troubled by a tough crowd - so I had a poor impression of the institute and didn't figure I'd try to visit (and didn't find out where they were located).  Fate has a way of stuffing things in your face sometimes!  I biked in, surveyed the place, found nobody around (but several cars), and came back to what seemed to be the main building.  I peeked in the door, saw a piano, and invited myself to sit and play it!  Turned out that was a welcome thing to do, and then some people stirred, happily!  Met one of the resident directors and her baby, plus 2 apprentices, then took a self-guided tour of the place.  There's a lot of good things going on here!!  It was a clear-cut site (there are a LOT of clear-cuts that have just been ridiculously logged in Maine.  There are barely any trees older than 80-100 years old, it's kind of sad), and they were planting it to a food forest!  Gardens out front, a couple green houses, chickens, edible landscaping, some "sustainable" housing, a huge long tunnel of a trellis over the driveway (planted to hops!), plus a big common house with a nice stone floor and big kitchen for preserving and cooking.  They're looking for apprentices and a farm manager, if anybody is interested!  By the way.  Check 'em out.

The reason the piano was such a good coincidence was that I needed to finish this song I'm writing.  It was a secret/surprise before, but now it's not!  My friend Kevin Asbell's sister, Sarah, is getting married in a couple weeks, and their father, Rich wrote a poem for her that he asked me to put to music.  It was definitely uncharacteristic for Rich to write a poem, and I was quite moved when he read it to me (and that he asked me to write a song that he could dance with his daughter to on her wedding day!).  So that was back in VT still, and I was at Nancy's house where there was a piano.  So I sat and wrote a chorus, then hadn't had a piano to work at since!  So I was able to finish the song, more or less, at the Newforest Institute.  The fellow who had done the composting workshop came home (Jim, father of baby!), and I was really glad for the chance to actually meet him (rather than just knowing him as the fellow that tried to manage the tough crowd at the fair!).  Dinner, internet, bed - this was the first time i'd slept straight through till morning in a while!  so i was thankful to be in a warm house with a pillow.  Learned that our beloved feline friend Bonkers passed away at the Elm Street Co-op in Ithaca.  He will certainly be missed by all, and we're sending Lee lots of love and support.

Had great breakfast (dandelion greens, kale, chard, broccoli, sage, scallions all in an omelette) and conversation on the porch with Jim before hitting the road.  It was yet another perfect day to bike.  (side note: I keep finding that I "need to" speak/feel glottal consonants (eg. "K" "G" "NG"), some sort of interesting phenomenon that leads me to making different word choices ... anyone know what that's about?).   Google maps gave me another great route of back roads, among the nicer, more peaceful rides yet.  Brooks to Bucksport.  In bucksport, I set my course for Mount Desert Island (pronounced like "dessert," no one has told me why ...).  Made it as far as Ellsworth, ate at a cafe, and as I got tired out by the traffic and box stores around here, I decided to pull into this bird sanctuary at the edge of town to set up camp in the woods.  I was worried about the sun going down!  by the time I had my tent up and food hung, it was only 6:00, and dark (especially under hemlocks!).

On the road before 7, then onto the Island.  A nice ranger gave me the scoop on the national park and carriage trails and whatnot.  the trails were awesome for riding on!  compact gravel, purposefully meandering through the woods and around ponds, with periodic vistas of mountains or ocean.  i wandered into Bar Harbor to see what was going on, and ended up at a cafe to play the piano (the hostess asked, "what's your angle?  why do you want to play the piano," and she happily showed me to the humble instrument).  2 Kittens Cafe.  I sat and played "That's All," and the tables of folks around me seemed pleased, so I played more.  The staff also seemed pretty happy about it, and more and more customers coming by to give me a pat on the back, sing along, or compliment me.  Talk about a good ego boost.  A waitress put some change in candle holder and made it a tip jar, and I ended up making enough money for a couple days of food!  Plus they made me breakfast of tofu scramble, homefries, and grapefruit juice.  Some of the staff even danced for a song - good fun!

It was a nice day, so after maybe 3 hours of playing piano, I got on my way into the park.  Went to the Nature Center and Wild Garden (demonstration site for native plants).  I asked a ranger about some trails to get to the top of Cadillac Mt. (that gets the first sunrise in America, due to its elevation and location!), and he realized I probably wanted to be up there for the sunrise - so gravely reminded me that there's no "dry camping" in the park.  But the ranger before had told me also that the park is technically open 24 hours, so I felt okay in planning on staying the night on the mountain (but didn't tell this new ranger that!).  I decided my plan was to push the bike up to Cadillac and ride down it.  I think the ranger was trying to give me a hard time, because he said it was quite possible to do that, and showed me a good route.  I biked to the base of the ridge trail, and then prepared to push/carry for about 2 miles.

Well, it was more just carrying my bike w/bags (~70 lbs total, pretty awkward shape) up what would be a difficult climb without anything to carry!  I was feeling strong and adventurous, so I pushed on, and made it about a third of mile, with plenty of energy left.  But some wariness ... I ran into a couple guys who were quite impressed with my feat of strength, but told me it would pretty much be ridiculous to keep going with the bike, because it was going to get even steeper, with slick, angled granite faces to cross.  They were completely right!  I took their word and stashed my bike, taking only a sleeping bag, tent, and some food/water.  Finished the climb, over a mile to the top of Dorr Mt (eastern neighbor to Cadillac - only a couple hundred ft shorter and much less traveled).  Great view in all directions (except where Cadillac blocked it), of the bay, Bar Harbor, mountains to the northeast, the ocean to the south, etc.

Sunset was nearly an hour early, though it stayed light late up there.  There had been maybe 4 people that passed through, otherwise I had the whole mountain to myself!!  I realized that I'd never been up on top of a mountain at night, let alone one with such a view, or a view of the ocean, or a view of the first sunrise in the country!  As the sun dropped down, the reds and oranges grew on the horizon to both sides of the mountain obscuring my westerly view, and I lay down to take it in.  I was also kind of hiding from anyone that was looking from Cadillac (i saw lots of sillhouettes), and even ducked out of view of a cruise ship in my probably-unnecessary paranoia about "breaking the rules."  I set up my sent under some dwarfed pine trees, and came back out to take in the emerging stars.

It really began to sink in that this was a darn special moment, when the clouds came and went and the stars were in fully force, Milky Way and all.  not a soul around, though I could see plenty of lights here and there along the water.  there's nothing like feeling as though there is nothing above you or even beside you!  walking around on the mountain top, feeling my way over rocks, feeling like I belonged nowhere else.  eventually, the wind picked up and it got too cold to sit outside comfortably, so I retreated to my tent.  without a pad, the patch of grass I was on was soft enough, but drained heat away quickly.  but my sleeping bag pulled through, and I could even leave the fly off to get the air coming in and see some stars.  at one point I swear there some folks just down the mountain shouting to one another ... but nothing came of it.  the wind picked up a lot (30-40 mph!), and it got so chilly that I nearly had to put clothes back on ... slept on and off, and dreamed in choral/opera music! until I eventually looked up to see a purple reddening on the horizon.  sunrise was coming!

I got out of the tent, took a picture (*gag* to think of my new photo-snapping mindset), watched for a little bit, then set at packing up camp before any rangers could find me!  then I sat comfortably to watch the sun come up - and man, it was a pretty one!  Right over the ocean, with plenty of clouds to reflect off of.  I actually wasn't ever sure of the exact rising of the sun, but it was somewhere in there ....  Satisfied, I set off down the mountain - and it was quite a quad-working walk down!  Said hello to all the Inukshuks marking the way, and made it to my stashed bike/bags.  no animals had gotten into the food, and I set off down the last leg with just all of my bags.  set those down, walked back up, carried bike down.  this was one heck of a workout to start the morning!  and boy it felt good to finally get on the bike!  I decided I had had a sufficient Acadia experience, and set off to leave the island.  riding the main road was frustrating, to say the least, with no shoulder, huge tour buses, and countless signs proclaiming "ocean view!"  Found the back road I'd come in on, and made it out safely!

 From Ellsworth, I headed southwest down the east side of the peninsula.  it was really a nice ride with less traffic and frequent rolling hills.  stopped into the Blue Hill co-op/cafe that I'd heard about, just as it began to rain.  it was expensive, but comfortable.  I had some vegetables and dolmas, and met two fellows while I was eating.  super nice and got me laughing pretty well.  felt like i had come into a good place.  I put the plastic bags over my gear and made the last leg of the trip to Sedgwick as the rain picked up.  when I made it to Molly and Doug's old schoolhouse home, Molly was outside in her raincoat picking tomatoes.  I got under the porch and inside just as the rain really got heavy.  Chatted with Molly for some time, and Doug got home after I took a good long shower.  They're both musical folks, and Doug even played some Randy Newman-esque tunes he's written.  They sing madrigals, too!  Dinner of some home-made pasta and tomatoes, and quiche (moosewood recipe!  it's not the first moosewood food I've been served on this trip.  and I then get to pretend i'm back in 2006 when I washed dishes there!).  Again, I've ended up at the home of folks that I really enjoy talking with.  We even got to make lists of emotions for a drama exercise Molly was going to use the next day with some of her students.

I was able to make a recording of the song to send to Rich, the song is called "Sarah, Nothing's Changed."  Played the piano for a while, what luxury.  My heel is healing back up again (after pushing it a little far the last couple days ....).  Today (Friday), I lay low inside working on music and writing this blog, and went for a walk in the woods.  It's quite lush here, compared with just a little ways north.  Sea moisture and warmth, is my guess.  Another delicious dinner and conversation, and my goodness it's after midnight now ... that's new.  I hope you've enjoyed this lengthy recollection of tales from my travels.  hopefully I'll update with shorter accounts from now on, but no promises there!  I'm getting photos up on my facebook page, slowly.  Very well, carry on!

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