Being licked by a St. Bernard is a never-to-be-forgotten experience, especially on an empty trail on July Fourth in a park loaded with July Fourth-celebrating tourists. There was no one to rescue us, certainly not the thin woman, so we were licked and slobbered on, a fascinating experience on a hot July Fourth. I have since thought that the Colonists -- more correctly, new states residents -- might have been able to win the Revolution a lot quicker had they been armed with slobbering St. Bernards instead of muskets that only fired once in awhile when they felt like it. Imagine a whole army of red-jacketed British troops going down beneath a host of St. Bernard slobbers.
Down the Road A Piece Stories from Maine by Milt Gross
It's always a pain in the neck to find time to get to the barber shop, but once I'm there I'm always glad I came.
It's the stories.
The other day there were two other guys, one in the chair and one who had just had his hair cut and was waiting around for it to grow again. I liked that, no waiting, as the one in the chair was climbing off the chair as I came in.
The barber's tiny little white dog, some kind of terrier or somethingorother was asleep on a rug in the back room. I had seen Jack out walking the little guy as I had driven past in my bus earlier. Jack told me he had just been taken a walk by the little somethingorother, so I knew I was in the right barber shop.
That walk-telling-of reminded me, of course, of a cat tale. I told Jack how our newest cat, 13-year-old Kitty, a coon cat, had been outdoors when I had driven into our drive a few days earlier. Also outdoors had been a flock of about eight turkeys, wild ones, you know the kind that aren't supposed to be this far north because the climate is too cold -- or was.
You can always tell global warming is real when you live in Maine and the wild turkeys are strutting around your dooryard.
As I drove in, the turkeys were trotting out, not straight out so they'd run over Ellie Echo but on an angle so they'd run past her. They were fairly well spread out, as any good flock of wild turkeys should be.
Trotting across their flank was Kitty, looking for all the turkey world like a turkeycat -- spelling it turkeydog might help, as it is supposed to look like sheepdog -- or sheepcat or turkeycat. She was trotting right along, as if she were herding these big, clumsy-looking critters toward the southeast forty, also known as the lawn.
I pictured her in a county fair turkey-herding contest.
Of course, she was really trotting toward a two-foot high rock so she could eye these strange feathered friends from a safe cat height.
Made a fair barbershop story.
The conversation switched to the Blue Hill Peninsula, somehow by accident it switched as conversations do in barber shops. When Dolores and I had leased a house in Sedgwick, it had been on the Blue Hill Peninsula. There had been no turkeys there, just coyotes who roamed at night, singing enough to entertain us when there was nothing worth watching on TV -- most nights.
There was also a tiny dog, smaller than Jack's, who barked nightly from his outdoor hookup next door, a quarter mile distant. One night the coyote's singing turned loud and into sharper near yapping, which is when we knew the tiny dog next door wouldn't be annoying us with nighttime barking again.
Also on the peninsula was Cape Rosier, which I mentioned to Jack and about which he knew.
I told him about the time Dolores and I had gone canoeing at Cape Rosier State Park with its beach and canoe-launch area right on the bay -- across from Castine. The park ranger, whose name I forget but for this gossip piece will be named Ranger Rick, came down to the launch area to see us off.
No one else was in the park on this July Fourth, which was probably why he came down to patrol us.* When he nabbed us at water's edge, he told us that we had to stay within the cove and not go out into the bay.
"Don't worry," I explained to Ranger Rick, "none of our relatives or friends -- neither of them -- know we're here, and they won't come looking for us."
"Should they show up, however," I said, "just tell them we're not here."
That would be because we would be out in the bay, which is where our paddles took us.
And where the seals found us, about five of them, if I recall. They surrounded the canoe, kind of standing up in the water.
Being fresh from western Maine, where you were more likely to be surrounded by moose than seals, I asked Dolores, "Is this the part of the movie where the seals bump the canoe and dump us into the ocean?"
I knew moose wouldn't do that, as they were too polite and too dumb. I didn't know seals.
"No, they'll just watch us," replied Dolores, who had spent more years near the ocean than had I.
They did, finally breaking ranks and swimming away.
A week or so later, I asked Bunny Leonard, a Southwest Harbor lobsterman who had the misfortune of knowing me, why the seals had acted so strangely.
"You dummies," he said kindly, "it was mating season and you disturbed them. They probably thought you were one great-looking aluminum hunk of seal."
It is also on the Peninsula where the Bagaduce River meanders. Looking at it one day inspired me to write a great canoeing tale for an outdoor magazine, which accepted my literary ramblings. I described the great width and length of quiet water the river offered canoeists.
We hadn't canoed on it, of course.
The next time we drove past it, we noticed that the entire river as far as we could see was mud flats. Oops, tide. Tidal rivers do that don't they. I always hoped that anyone who had read my article and canoed on the river had done so at high tide.
Jack chuckled and told me how he and his wife sometimes drove to Castine, bought lunch at a takeout on the dock and ate on the dock.
I commented that Dolores and I would do that sometime.
Finally, my long, long hair had become a "regular haircut" for which Jack refused to charge overtime, and I climbed out of the chair. As I did, I looked in the mirror.
When I reached for my jacket, I said, "My wife won't recognize me. She'll probably e-mail me that some strange guy is in the house."
The customer still waiting for his hair to regrow, added, "She'll probably like him better than you."
* Dolores and I have found a few other empty July Fourth spots over the years, such as the path in Acadia National Park that follows the woods south from the Jordan Pond House, just out of sight of a park road and the carriage roads that circle in that area. We had walked a fair distance that afternoon, when along came a July Fourth St. Bernard towing a woman. The woman was thin, not too strong appearing, and apparently had no control over the Saint. The Saint, being naturally friendly in its celebration of Independence Day, pulled the woman over to us, then stood up on his thick hind legs and licked us.
Being licked by a St. Bernard is a never-to-be-forgotten experience, especially on an empty trail on July Fourth in a park loaded with July Fourth-celebrating tourists. There was no one to rescue us, certainly not the thin woman, so we were licked and slobbered on, a fascinating experience on a hot July Fourth.
I have since thought that the Colonists -- more correctly, new states residents -- might have been able to win the Revolution a lot quicker had they been armed with slobbering St. Bernards instead of muskets that only fired once in awhile when they felt like it. Imagine a whole army of red-jacketed British troops going down beneath a host of St. Bernard slobbers.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at
"Think of the story of Jesus walking on the water, found in Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6:45-52," Strobel writes, quoting a scholar he was interviewing. "Most English translations hide the Greek by quoting Jesus as saying, 'Fear not, it is I.' Actually, the Greek literally says, 'Fear not, I am.' Those last two words are identical to what Jesus said in John 8:58, when he took upon himself the divine name 'I AM,' which is the way God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. So Jesus is revealing himself as the one who has the same divine power over nature as Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament."
A man way up in Danforth, actually who was known in those long-ago days when you could describe him such as the town drunk, said to me while we were in the general store, "I touched a moose and nobody believes me." He explained that he had canoed down the river, landed on a small island, and seen a moose standing still, just standing there. The man had walked up to the moose and touched its nose. It still stood there.I knew that in those days there was a nerve disease circulating through moose herds, which rendered them fairly helpless. They would just stand still, even if you didn't touch their noses.
Before leaving the dock, the Elizabeth Ann's captain, held up a lifejacket for us to see and even strapped it around himself. He explained that should we tip over -- maybe diesel-powered vessels don't tip over like our canoe doesn't because we're careful and cowardly about being in Maine's cold, cold water -- those life jackets would save our lives. I wondered why you just wouldn't hold onto the vessel as we would our canoe in the event it ever tipped over. Probably some Coast Guard rule.
The approximately 150 miles of trails are as varied and scenic as ever, and the Island Explorer buses allow circle hikes. Up one trail and down another. Not yet succumbing to GPS except to find corridor-boundary markers and recording their GPS settings along the Appalachian Trail (150 miles north of Acadia) as a Maine Appalachian Trail Club volunteer, I recommend a map that shows Acadia National Park's trails. The long southern part of Cadillac mountain, which the 3.5-mile South Ridge Trail follows from Route 3 to the summit.
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