As a naturalist, botanist, mineral collector and Maine history teacher, I had occasion to poke into the nooks, crannies and remote areas of Stow. Throughout several decades, I discovered plant species in Stow that were new to Maine as well as extirpated plants that hadn’t been seen in over a hundred years.

Why Stow? Because many of my ancestors came from this hidden paradise. As a child I would travel to Stow with my parents and visit several cousins. We would camp at Evans Notch in Chatham, New Hampshire. I continued to camp at Evans Notch after the passing of my parents. Over the years I climbed every hill and mountain in Stow and Batchelders Grant looking for minerals, plants, birds and animals. In my 20s I recall finding a large pocket of amethyst crystals on Deer Hill. The estimated weight of the crystals was over a hundred pounds.

It wasn’t until an absence of several years that I went back to Stow during the summer months to visit old haunts and admire the beauty of meadows, fields and woods. Many of the Eastman landmarks were gone; some destroyed by fire, others deteriorated with age. I noticed the barn and outbuildings were gone from the Fred Eastman homestead at Stow Corner. I recall when I was a scrawny 15-year-old trying to pitch hay into Fred’s horse-drawn wagon. I didn’t last long at this task.

I begin to muse about the summer season and seasons past. When late July and August roll into September, goldenrods and wild asters dot the open fields this time of year in our northern climes. Fall unofficially begins on Sept. 1 in Stow, Batchelders Grant and Chatham. A curtain has been drawn and the summer performance is over.

Mother Nature is getting ready for her long, deep sleep by December.

I’ve always found September to be melancholy in Stow, knowing colder weather will be arriving in mid-October.

It is then that I can hear the winter winds blowing down the mountain slopes (Bald Face Mountain) and into the valley, stripping the green grasses to brown and removing the trees of their dress and exposing their naked souls to the gods.

Yes, the Indian summer that comes later is beautiful, teasing me that the good times of summer are here again. Nonetheless, I can’t be teased. I know cold weather will descend upon my shoulders as I walk through forest still looking for that rare fern that tenaciously hides from the cold. Summers for me in the wilds of Stow, collecting plants and minerals, birding and examining every little creature on the forest floor, filled my days with joy.

If heaven exists, then I visualize myself walking between Thoreau and Robert Frost, down a dusty dirt road in Stow bordered by rock walls and sugar maples, discussing Mother Nature and the negative pressures she must now endure in the 21st century.


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