Before our companions arrived, we rode on up the Houlton road seven miles to Molunkus, where the Aroostook road comes into it, and where there is a spacious public house in the woods, called the "Molunkus House," kept by one Libbey, which looked as if it had its hall for dancing and for military drills. There was no other evidence of man but this huge shingle palace in this part of the world; but sometimes even this is filled with travelers. I looked off the piazza round the corner of the house up the Aroostook road, on which there was no clearing in sight. There was a man adventuring upon it this evening in a rude, original, what you may call Aroostook wagon,--a mere seat, with a wagon swung under it, a few bags on it, and a dog asleep to watch them. He offered to carry a message for us to anybody in that country, cheerfully. I suspect that, if you should go to the end of the world, you would find somebody there going farther, as if just starting for home at sundown, and having a last word before he drove off.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
For the past couple of days I've been reading Thoreau's The Maine Woods, an account of his 1846 trip into my neck of the state. Thoreau has always irritated me: I have small tolerance for people who smugly expatiate on the right way to live. But I'm enjoying this book more than I expected I would. Perhaps because T is out of his element--"from away," as they say up here--he seems more wide-eyed and less sententious than I remember. Or maybe I was reading Walden in the wrong way. Of course it's always interesting to read a book about one's own neighborhood, and Thoreau's descriptions of the north woods are surprisingly recognizable, even 160 years later. And then there are the lovely, poignant remarks that arise in the midst of his journalistic record--