I’m writing this on Sunday morning, May 5th, in the Guide Shack. It’s a clear blue sky outside and batteries of our off-grid solar power system were fully charged at 8 am. We’re one week into the spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester course, and spring is just starting to get some momentum. The birdsong is loud in the mornings, and I’m listening to the white throated sparrows and robins belt it out over the field. There are still spots of snow in the woods and along the road, but the fields and open areas are snow-free. It is still below freezing at night, but the warmth of the sun is bringing back life after one of the longer winters I recall in northern Maine.
The other day I watched a mink running along the stream near the pond. A while later I was sitting quietly near the pond outlet and watched a muskrat swim over and start down the stream before seeing me and heading back into the safety of the pond. In addition to the usual suspects of bird life, we’ve had a few common mergansers in the pond. I saw one dead brook trout. It had grown to about 9 inches since stocking the pond a year ago. As the river has been flooded, we’ve had beavers on the pond and in the stream. They’ve left lots of chewed aspen sticks, piles of scat, and the tree in the photo above.
This semester we’ve taken our assessment system digital, so we put together an off-grid solar power system for the library cabin in addition to the one at the Guide Shack. The library had heaved over the winter, and with the thawing of the ground sunk on one corner. Last fall I put my good railroad jack in the library so it would be ready to level the building in the spring. But as a result of the heaving, we couldn’t get the door open, so I had to call a friend to come over and help. He was able to level the building in about ten minutes. Needless to say the jack won’t be living in the library again.
Week one of the course is always an adjustment for people. Living outside, learning the camp systems, getting the hang of all the academic work that makes up the course, using your body constantly all day, all of these things take some getting used to. The group rose to the challenge, and we’re ready to start carving canoe paddles and other bigger projects in week 2.
Another week helping people grow and push back their limits. After 21 years, I still feel fortunate to do what I do.