Last fall my wife, Terri, and I had the opportunity to travel through England and Scotland. From Stonehenge, castles, cathedrals, and pubs to the Scottish Highlands and Yorkshire Dales: what an inspirational journey. You can see the richness of the history at every turn, but even more stunning was seeing the depth of that 10,000-year history, and seeing how those ancient threads are celebrated and woven into current lives and culture.
My thoughts turned to how similar – yet so different Maine and our North Woods are to what I saw on our travels. The lands and cultures are just as ancient in both places, dating back to soon after the glaciers receded. Yet the depth of our embrace of ancient ties to the land is so much less. How many of us readily think of the cultural connections to Maine’s forest going back more than a few hundred years? Few, I suspect, unless you are Native American. Perhaps, that’s because unlike the everyday presence of thousands of ancient stone structures spread throughout England and Scotland, Maine Native Americans built with wood and hide – materials that last at most centuries – not millennia. This absence may be part of why we forget the depth of the history surrounding us daily.
It’s exciting that FSM’s mission embraces the historic and cultural values of Maine’s North Woods. I came home with the commitment to more fully understand and embrace the depth of that cultural richness, even though it is not readily visible or part of my personal ancestry. This deeper realization leads me, and hopefully you, to a deeper understanding of just how special Maine’s expansive forestlands truly are.