Murphy and I, along with a good friend of mine, climbed Pleasant Pond Mountain in Caratunk on Friday, reconnecting with another passion of mine: hiking and climbing mountains.
Not the scaling rock kind of mountain-climbing where you need harnesses and specialty rope─noooo, I’m not that coordinated, lol. But the Appalachian-Trail kind of hiking and mountain climbing for sure. I’ve even toyed with the idea of hiking the AT, but so far I’ve just climbed a few random mountains across Maine and New Hampshire.
I admit I’ve been pretty down and broken-hearted about losing Jim’s farm─going through the whole gamut of emotions one would typically expect when they lose a loved one: grief, sadness, anger, self-doubt…more sadness. And just when I think I have a handle on it all, there comes a rain shower falling so beautifully upon the meadow, or a glorious sunset over the mountain view, and it puts me to tears all over again.
Despite the emotional roller coaster I am picking myself up. I know these are the challenges beginning farmers face. I know I am not the only one going through this kind of upheaval; at least 2 other farming-friends of mine are experiencing farm-displacement this season. I did everything I could to try to make it work at Jim’s place. Believe me when I say I’ve exhausted all options and I am exhausted. Their brother is long gone and the Murphy family want to sell the place and be done with it. At this point in time there is nothing that I can do to bridge the gap to secure this farm for Runamuk. I have to accept that, and so do my supporters.
This is not the end for Runamuk or for me, but it has made me question who I am, what I’m doing, and what’s actually important to me. I can make a living on less land for sure. I don’t need the big house and the big mortgage only holds me back.
It’s the dream that tears me up the most I suppose. My grand dream for a pollinator conservation center here in this region of Maine. Picture a park-like setting akin to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, with varying types of gardens and meadows geared toward different types of pollinators. There would be walking paths through the gardens, meadows and forest, will plaques identifying the habitat and informing visitors about the flowers planted there and the pollinators who visit them. There would be bird houses for a variety of species, a bat house, and an education center where visitors of all ages could come to play and learn. Picture a shaded area with picnic tables, and imagine rustic wooden benches in secluded sections of the trail where visitors could stop and sit awhile to admire the sound of insects pollinating, to bird watch, or to meditate. And there would be a view of the western Maine mountains to top it off.
Imagine the kind of tourism that such a park might bring to the economically depressed region that is Somerset County. With papermills closing and much of our manufacturing jobs outsourced overseas this region needs more businesses and more people coming to the area to spend their money.
Madison-Anson is along the route between the coast and the mountains and Canada. There is a lot of traffic moving through our area heading in one direction or the other, but we see very little business from that traffic. This conservation center could entice more travelers to stop for a visit on their way north or south, and I hoped it would bring some tourists away from the coast to visit inland Maine.
That’s the dream I have.
But that dream is out of reach at the moment. I’m putting it aside; tabling it for the time being, while I focus my attention on the apiary and building an income. I need stability and security after all this, and I know I can generate an income with the bees, and─hopefully─with my writing.
I’m choosing to focus on the things that are most important to me. Breaking away from the industrialized and commercialized mainstream, growing food to feed my kids and myself, moving toward a more sustainable existence, being close to nature, spending time with the people in my life, and sharing my experiences and knowledge with others in hopes of inspiring more to do the same.
Those are the things most important to me. Sometimes I need to climb a mountain to regain that perspective, to connect with the Earth and remember why I started all of this. Through all of this I have had friends and family, and many of my followers and supporters─lifting me up, listening to me as I work things out, encouraging me to not give up, and just being there to offer a hug or a laugh. I am so grateful to each and every one of you, and I want you to know that I am O.K. Runamuk will persevere, and I will continue to be a part of the Madison-Anson area communities in some form or fashion.
Stay tuned folks!