On an overcast mid-April morning, Hannah and I head to the Maine coastline to explore the Cutts Island Trail on the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve in Kittery.
Though 70 degrees filled our Saturday past, today Monday, it’s a blustery 48. You may not know it, but April in Maine is a tempest, a volatile lover. Driving south from York on coastal Route 103, we turn left on Cutts Road for a few hundred yards to a stop sign. At the junction of Sea Point Road, we veer left over the small bridge, within sight of the modest trailhead parking on Cutts Island.
Pulling behind a van with Oregon plates, we have before us nearly two miles of flatland trails along Chauncey Creek on to the Salt Marsh. The forest ahead is a collection of brown pick-up sticks of fallen oaks, maples, and pines among the healthy trees ready to leaf out. In a month, the softness of green will bracket the trail and calm the winter beast within us all.
With a trail of soft dirt that is easy on our feet, we head out on level terrain exploring to see if this is a suitable trail for our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6).
Signs directing us at junctures of the trail tell us of quite the American hero, Rachel Carson.
As an American biologist, Rachel Carson wrote on environmental pollution and the natural history of the sea. Her book, Silent Spring (1962), was the spark for the modern environmental movement as well as five alarm fire for the need to control pesticides, including DDT. A graduate of Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, incidentally where my mother earned her B.A. in French and Latin, Ms. Carson in the prime of her life was weakened by breast cancer and died of a heart attack at 56 in 1964.
Chatting up the Oregonians, fully masked thirteen months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we learn they are vandwellers traveling the country. Vandwellers!!
Following this encounter, I think how appealing it would be to travel the Lower Forty-Eight in a van as William Least Heat Moon described in Blue Highways (1982). Staying wherever we want for as long as we want. Hiking, visiting family and friends as modern day free-spirited, albeit upper middle class, hobos. Of course, I would be doing this alone since Hannah wants no part of van-ity.
Even with all our stops to read the informative trail signs, we are back at the trailhead in 50 minutes. Have hiked with Owen and Max before, we know this hike will easily take an hour and a half as they climb trailside logs and boulders, scamper down to the water’s edge, and throw whatever is close at hand.
What do you know, during a “24 Hours with Owen and Max,” one month late (mid-May 2021) Hannah and I brought the boys to Cutts Island.