How fortunate are we to live in a place that abounds with outdoor opportunities around virtually every corner. Maine. Vacationland. What awesome prospects we have in our backyards that draw tourists “from away,” and give us untold options from which to play. In Farmington, we have the Sandy River for swimming and fishing, walking trails galore and hidden gems like Cascade Brook Falls. Within an hour’s drive we have Mt. Blue State Park, Tumbledown Mountain, Rangeley Lakes, and multiple ski resorts. Great options you can pay for or partake in for free, or by spending a little gas money or some physical energy.
Maine is a lot of things to a lot of people, from the mountains to the oceans to the North Maine Woods, which is the the largest intact contiguous forest east of the Mississippi.
For me, this time of year in Maine means brook trout and days on the water.
For many Mainers, a rite of passage for spring starts with “have ya been upta camp yet?” Most everyone knows someone with a camp near or on the water, don’t they? Once you get the spring camp chores done, it’s time to go fishing. Maine is home to one of the last surviving strongholds of Eastern Brook Trout east of the Mississippi, and here in western Maine, we are fortunate that many of our lakes and streams contain this native char. In many other places, they are stocked in a put and take fishery designed so people can have fun catching them and then enjoy the fruits of their harvest. Others prefer to chase down the wild brook trout, often found further off the beaten path. Many people say the closer a trout is to the 6” minimum size, the better they taste. I have to agree, several 6-8” brookies rolled in corn meal and flash fried with butter or salt pork is hard to beat. Cast iron frying pan, of course.
Once the camp chores are done and the trout fry is set to digesting, its time to recharge the batteries from whatever the week before had in store for you. Work, school, responsibilities of life etc., it is always important to take the time to invest in yourself. Chilling by the water is at least as good as your average psychologist and does not require an office visit of a copay. At camp, choosing the correct beverage is important to the chill. Camp coffee is appropriate all day long, though some people prefer to stiffen it up a little as 5 o’clock approaches. (Its always five o’clock somewhere though, right?) Iced tea, lemonade and malted beverages also make the short list of preferred beverages at camp. Water is for chore time.
In times of Covid, partisan politics and electronic overindulgence, fishing, hiking, and chilling by the lake can rewire the brain into ways that promote harmony and improved mental health. While important for adults, getting outside and away from it all might be more important for children. If there is a theme for this June in Maine, it would have to be take care of your self and be a hero to some youngster- take a kid fishing.