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Trail Ride Vestiges

Published: 10/13/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

We were easing off a long trot. As we slowed, Shea and I finally could take our eyes off the trail. We’d been ducking branches and hopping over roots for some time.
There, just off the old logging road was a straight, low stonewall. It enclosed no field and came to an ill-defined end after 150 feet.
Spotting stonewalls is like coming across an old family album. Treasures from another time. They provide images of how things were and carry me back. In this case, the journey goes back well over a hundred years when Brunswick settlers worked these woods-turned-fields-turned-woods.

What field did this wall enclose?
What men and women tended this land?

I can ride in an arena for about as long as I can shop in a mall. Thirty minutes and I’m headed for the exit.
But trails call me. With deer season around the corner, I cherish them even more.
On this day, we suffered a mile of busy road riding to get onto these fantastic, old Brunswick tote roads. Generations ago, folks harvested wood from this land and tilled the fields. Now the same wide paths are scarcely used outside of hunting season. But they provide us with hours of escape three seasons of the year.
Stonewalls weren’t the only sign of yesteryear. I love my native state dearly, but Maine has a serious dumping habit.
Old fridge? Old tub? Old sink? Old truck?
Just take ‘em out back into the woods.
I went to Mt. Ararat School in Topsham and the quarry behind the high school was full of junk. It was deep. Dozens of cars were invisible by its tea colored waters.
I don’t think I’ve walked or ridden anywhere lately and not come across some remnant of this attitude.
Time goes on. The sinks and tubs and trucks start blending in with the woods. As we walked past an appliance graveyard the other day, it seemed like at some point it stopped being an eyesore and started being almost quaint.
Call me a patriotic Mainer, huh?
Everything dumped seemed decades in its new place. The only new items were Poor Man’s Deer Stands – five gallon buckets.
Civilization could be heard, too, for Interstate 295 hummed in the distance. We rode some more, came to our own little highway overlook, and paused to watched all the RVs head south. They blended with the work trucks and regular commuters.
I suppose there is never total escape around here. Humanity will pop up - in the form of an abandoned tub or traffic or a siren in the distance.
But trail rides out the back door? I ain't complaining. I'll take 'em with all their warts and farts.

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10/13/2011 Molly
I like your story and comments Maddy and can totally relate. We moved up from the islands when I was a little girl. The first thing my brother and I found was the dumping ground out behind the house - so many cans, bottles, old pots (very pretty funny shaped porcelain things LOL) we even found the remnants of a truck just like the one you have pictured - though perhaps a wee bit older- and stone walls, deep wheel ruts on barely cleared roads, even huge prints in the ground (we figured they must ta have belonged to elephants)...everything you expressed so eloquently. What a childhood, Made me feel so nostalgic. Keep up the stories ...LOVE them

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