Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

The other day, while out doing barn chores, I lucked into hearing the evening replay of Maine Public’s “Maine Calling.” It was an interview with Ron Joseph about his new book, “Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs and Hermit Bill: Memories of a Wildlife Biologist in Maine.” He was hysterical, in a really great way.

Ron told some really wonderful stories about growing up in Maine. Once, he and a few others were called out of class by the principal. He thought he was in trouble, but no. A moose had been struck and killed by a train and the local warden wanted a few strong kids to help butcher the moose so the meat wouldn’t go to waste. They were happy to oblige. That moose became school lunch, feeding all the kids for quite a while.

That story is so poignant. It speaks to a time that is simultaneously within this one (not that old) man’s living memory, and also unimaginably distant.

I know there is a lot about now that is better. Dentistry, to name just one.

I am also aware that underneath the “bygone charm” of that story is the reality that the kids were having to hunt because times were hard and food was scarce. None of us would really want to embrace the hardships that were commonplace then. It’s bad enough when Netflix is down. But knowing that and feeling that are two very different things.

As the interview went on and his stories rolled out, I felt more and more nostalgic for the Maine that used to be. It is possible I became a tad morose about the “here and now,” and overly romantic about the past. But then a few things happened, ordinary things, that reminded me if I only pay attention, the important parts are still right here.


The first was that I bought Joseph’s book. I could have ordered it from the giant conglomerate with the questionable logo, but I chose to buy from the publisher, Islandport Press, instead. I used their online store, but next time I’ll pop into their storefront in Yarmouth because there they are, in Maine, keeping alive the grand tradition of telling stories.

The next thing, I tuned into my youngest on the radio. He’s out in Nebraska calling baseball games for a summer internship. In his patter, he makes a point of always mentioning something about home. Not just stories – phrases sneak in. He makes it seamless, but it’s there.

In his voice, in his stories and in his sense of who he is, I heard the “specialness of place” that I had been mourning as lost. It’s right there.

I paid attention the next time my eldest was down to visit, and there it was again. The love of the place, of community, the decency we tend to think belongs to the past – all there, but with an awareness of others and the advances we’ve made toward equality mixed in for good measure.

While I think, of course, that my kids are extraordinary, the truth is they are far from alone.

Pay attention and it quickly becomes apparent that the kids are all right. Grown-ups, too. You can see it in the way that neighbors check in on each other, our honor system farm stands, the welcome we are extending to new Mainers, much as Maine welcomed the Lebanese grandparents of Ron Joseph when they immigrated here back in the day.

The woes of the world are encroaching on our lives – that’s real, and I miss the simpler ways of life. But the things that make Maine so special are still around us, and it seems to me that the key to keeping and living the good life is to focus on exactly that, on each other, on our kindness, on our welcome. Those are the things that will stand the test of time, of technology, of history.

Comments are not available on this story.