Knowing our neighbors ..... the year of wildfires ..... a leap of faith

This Week in Lincolnville: Heart Full of a Lifelong Love

....looking ahead to what’s next
Posted:  Monday, October 16, 2017 - 4:30pm

I stood in my garden on the morning of the full moon, dawn was still two hours away. My house was silhouetted against the light, starry sky, the oh so familiar trees like black lace behind it. A coyote barks in the distance.

How am I so lucky? How is it that I get to be standing here in this beautiful place, my heart full of a lifelong love, all the while feeling the stirring of a new one?

The world around us is becoming an unfamiliar and scary place. Only those most intent on living in the moment, on keeping their equilibrium are able to block out the news of fire, wind and flood, of massacre and unkindness, of crudeness, of insensitivity, of hate and of fear.

“I don’t listen to the news, I don’t read it, I don’t want to know,” these people say.

I envy them. The endless chatter on cable, on radio, on the web, has of necessity been the way I filled the silent hours in my house these past months.

But here in our town we’ve worked hard to keep our communal conversations civil. We scold those who transgress on our Lincolnville Bulletin Board, tell them to take their political opinions elsewhere. Instead we worry about lost pets, selling a couch, or seek, as a recent post did  “ a gas- powered riding project for my son and I to tackle. We are interested in something along the lines of a moped, go-kart, gas-powered bicycle, dirt bike, trail bike. If you have something like that that has been sitting for years whether working or not, give me a call and we can come out and look at it and see what we can work out for a price.”

 We offer advice to one another on garden pests, plumbers, house-sitting gigs. We try to match Bulletin Board names to faces when we meet for real.

Everyone’s excited for the opening of Briar and Jon’s General Store.


TUESDAY, Oct. 17


Library Book Group, 6 p.m., Library


Yoga, 6:30 p.m., Bandstand, Breezemere Park





Presentation and Concert, 7 p.m., Library





Soup Café, noon - 1p.m., Community Building


LIA Meeting, 5:30 potluck, LIA Building, 33 Beach Road





Indoor Flea Market, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road


AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at 12:15 p.m., Wednesdays & Sundays at 6 p.m., United Christian Church

Lincolnville Community Library, open Tuesdays, 4-7, Wednesdays, 2-7, Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. For information call 763-4343.

Soup Café, every Thursday, noon—1p.m., Community Building, Sponsored by United Christian Church. Free, though donations to the Community Building are appreciated

Schoolhouse Museum is closed for the season. Visit by appointment: 789-5984.

Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway

Crossroads Community Church, 10 a.m. Sunday School, 11 a.m. Worshipmeets at Lincolnville Central School

United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m., Children’s Church during service, 18 Searsmont Road


The internet, as a widespread part of our daily lives, is essentially 20 years old. Nearly all of us are connected to it in some way by now, and profound changes are evident, in our town as much as anywhere. We text instead of calling, we navigate by GPS – not map or spoken directions, play screen games, not cards. Print is dying out – newspapers, magazines, books.

We're firmly entrenched on “our” side of the political debate; our news feed and Google searches know exactly where to send us to find the articles that stroke our beliefs. 


 We open up to one another in sometimes surprising ways. Mia Mantello, who often posts on Facebook from Sewall Orchards, writes that she’s “grateful I can lie in bed and look at the early sun hitting the mountain. Grateful for Bob, Sam, Isaac, my family, my soul family (which includes music friends, yoga friends and my male and female radical feminist, activist friends). Glad I have fresh water to drink and an amazingly beautiful 46 acres on which to live. Glad I have space to welcome guests. It could have been otherwise. If you know my life story of fatherlessness, leaving home at age 8, carrying my clothes in garbage bags, multiple homes, etc. you know it could have been otherwise.”

Our teens, we’re told, are more comfortable online with one another than face to face. Our children would rather sit with a screen than climb a tree. Dinner tables are barren places, everyone intent on their own little brightly-lit rectangle. Mons or dads push strollers, heads bent over the phone, nobody talking to the baby.

But Lincolnville isn’t a faceless expanse of houses and highways, strip malls and high rises.

We actually know each other here in this rural town of some 2,100 souls. And if we’re paying attention to one another when we pass on the road, at the counter in Drake’s, picking up mail at the P.O., or waiting in the hallway for our kids after school, we actually know quite a bit about each other. And yes, though we know a lot about our neighbors through our online world  -- Facebook, email, Instagram, Twitter – the drama, the comedy, the sadness, and sometimes the tragedies of our lives are right out there if we’re willing to look.

My new …. friend took me along to pick out mums for his wife’s grave. Later, he helped me set the corners on the Maplewood lot where I’ll put a stone for Wally and me. A small drama, sure, but significant to us, and maybe to others in our situation.

Later this morning, I’m meeting a newly-made widower at Dot’s to listen, maybe to say something helpful. I can count six other widow/widowers of less than a year and never leave our borders. People are on the way to dying as I write, or still fighting hard to stay alive, their loved ones caught in the 24-hour nightmare (or blessing) of caring for the one they love most in the world.

Two solitary men, summer neighbors of decades, find new friendship these past months brown-bagging a bottle of beer together on the Beach benches most afternoons.

I’m greeted by the 4 p.m. coffee crowd at Drakes the other day with a smiling “how are you doing, Diane?”; you have to hear the inflection. I get it right away. They read last week’s Pilot article. They’ve been trying to put a name to my new friend. I laugh out loud. This is so much fun.

They’ve guessed wrong, and we all laugh about that. Another small drama or is it comedy? He and I get a kick out of the looks we get at Scott’s in Camden, at McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack, at Chez Michel, at the Whale’s Tooth. By now we’re an old story at the Soup Café.

Not everyone’s having fun. Standing at the counter paying my taxes, I overhear a young woman recounting her troubles – cancer, a car accident, more I didn’t catch. Life’s not going well for her.

A talented young man, who ought to have all the promise in the world of fulfilling his own dreams for himself, has fallen into the horrible hole of addiction.  Those who care about him, who’ve championed him, are at a loss. And no one feels the hurt more than he does.

A lovely woman, Janet Richards, a big part of our community’s foundation these past several decades, passed away a few days ago. I’ll always remember her fondly; her family now mourns her as she passes into memory.

Parent-teacher conferences leave mom and dad either elated or worried, sometimes both. Our teachers negotiate a new year, new faces, new protocols. Lots of anxiety, worry, sometimes triumph.

A young girl, waiting for the high school bus, bundled up against the wind, is buried in a book, an actual book! I smile as I stride past her, intent on keeping the dog on the road and out of the weeds. She never looks up, and I remember how that felt, falling into a story that shut out the world.

“NO Snapchat, no video games, no phones or devices when you all are at the farm. Make eye contact with each other, set up tents, make a fire, go fishing, play with the animals, play board and card games, GO OUTSIDE,” Briar Lyons addresses her kids on Facebook.  And I presume she says it out loud and to their faces.

My son comes in from the deck where he’s taken a moment’s refuge from a raucous family dinner.

“They’re like ghosts,” he says of his kids, running around our back pasture in the dusky light, ghosts of him and his brothers, playing the same games, the same voices calling back and forth.

The Year Lincolnville (and Maine) Burned

An email that came from a college friend in Napa, California, last week:

It’s a long story starting Sunday night.  Looking across the Valley from our home we saw fire along the ridge line that covered more than half the eastern horizon.  Heavy winds and dry conditions caused the fire to burn fast and hot down the hillside to Silverado Trail, taking every home and winery in its path.  The south end swept south into the Silverado Resort and jumped roads into an entire other large ranch and vineyard area, Coombsville.  It was shocking how fast it moved; sparks would blow up and land and start another fire.  Then it happened on our side of the valley a couple of ridges to the west of us, the Partrick Fire.  Suddenly the Partrick fire split and shot up and down hills north and south. Then way up in Calistoga, the Tubbs Lane fire moved to the west towards Santa Rosa, skipping along with sparks, until there were 14 fires in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. …. Continue to think good thoughts for us and we’ll be in touch as we’re able.”

 This story isn’t over, as the vineyard my friend and her husband built over many years is still at risk as I write.

 Seventy years ago was a catastrophic fire year in Maine, particularly in Bar Harbor where many homes burned down. Not as well known, though, were the Lincolnville fires. Nancy Miller Heald remembered hearing that her father was one of the firefighters at that time, and so she decided to do some research into those times. Here’s what she found out:

There were at least four fires of varying sizes here. The one I remember was between Ducktrap Stream on the east side of Route 52 that burned 40 acres toward Kendell Brook very close to Cobbtown Road and Pitcher Pond. My father, Ray Miller, told of running through the woods with an Indian pump still dripping from being dunked in a stream and strapped to his back while the fire raced through the tree tops overhead. Allan Thomas said this fire happened while the "law was still on to fresh water fish" which means October. He was not home to fight the fire with his father and brothers as he hadn't mustered out of the armed services until late November. Harold Dunton, several Pattens, Mark Hills as well as my dad were some who fought this fire. Possible causes of this fire starting were a spark from Herb Thomas's gasoline tractor backfiring, or the log scoot it pulled rubbing on a root causing a spark or a cigarette dropped by a fisherman seeking one last catch of brookies for the season. They never knew for sure.

      Another good-sized fire was in the meadow land between Route 52 and Route 173 [Beach Road] near the Center. This fire was a few days after the October 16 wedding of Ava Athearn. Her unwell father felt he had to help fight it across the road from his Beach Road home and suffered a heart attack from which he subsequently died. Who else fought this fire? Neighbors mostly I suspect, which could have been Wilbur Connors, Ken and Dennis Calderwood, George Rankin and Roger Heald. 

     According to the book "Wild Fire Loose: the Week Maine Burned" by Joyce Butler there was a fire on the side of Mount Megunticook in Lincolnville and an arson probe was begun when a "mysterious broken bottle" was found near a small fire. Arson was responsible for a number of the fires so road patrols were set up by officials and individuals.

 If anyone one knows anything more about these two fires or any others not mentioned in this story, please let Nancy know.


The book group invites everyone to join them in discussing “Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly this Tuesday, October 17 at 6 p.m. This is the true story that inspired the movie of the same name. Newcomers and reading suggestions are always welcome.

This month’s Library Presentation and Concert, Wednesday, October 18 at 7 p.m. features author Gin Mackey and her murder mystery “Disappear Our Dead”, which is both a mystery and a home funeral guide. The music half of the program will bring the Rockport-based band Miners Creek with its “down-home, Maine-grown” take on bluegrass. As always, contact Rosey Gerry, 975-5432, to reserve seats, $10 each, proceeds go to the Library. These programs are great fun; you’ll be glad you came!


Once again fourth graders will be involved in the Farnsworth Art Collaboration of Stories of the Land and Its People. They have decided to look for and research "stories" of homes and buildings in Lincolnville that have some history. If you live in or know of a home or building that might be useful for this project, would you please let teacher Coral Coombs know. With 31 students in the fourth grade this year it would be great if each could have their own place of focus. Homesteads, family homes, buildings that once belonged to... or were once a...  abandoned buildings..... even new buildings that have some type of story of interest.

Lincolnville Improvement Association

The last meeting of the season will be Thursday, Oct. 19, 33 Beach Road. The 5:30 p.m. potluck will be followed by a presentation by Ted Mahler on “When a Rocket Flew from Lincolnville.” All welcome!

Last Flea Market of the Season

This Saturday, Oct. 21 will be the last Lincolnville Flea Market of the season, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road. There will be a full house of vendors selling a great variety of products including vintage kitchen items and children's toys, antiques, collectibles, and handcrafts, both Maine-made and from Kenya.  The United Christian Church sponsors the event and will be selling refreshments including breakfast casseroles, blueberry coffee cake, cookies, and beverages.  All are welcome. For more information call 785-3521.  Please note: there are no more tables available for rent.

A Leap of Faith

I wrote not long ago about the situation our three town churches – Bayshore Baptist, Crossroads Community, and United Christian – are in, that is all three have recently lost their long-time pastors, through retirement, or in the case of Dave Pouchot, death.

At Sunday’s annual meeting of United Christian Church the congregation debated whether to seek a full or half-time pastor to fill their pulpit. The original decision to go with half-time was being revisited when it became apparent there were some extra funds in the coffers. Both sides of the debate had their points: conservatively speaking, could we manage the expense long term? Others cited the congregation’s record of supporting new projects such as staying open year round, building a parish hall including the church’s first “flush”, buying a first-class new organ, and taking on renovation of the Community Building, each project coming hot on the heels of the previous one.

Eventually the vote was called, and it was nearly unanimous: a full-time pastor would better serve everyone’s needs; it was indeed a leap of faith. Harking back to the day Pastor Susan Stonestreet was hired some eighteen years ago, and the church grew exponentially, I think we made the right decision.