Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hiking Glassface Mountain and the Memories it Fosters

Androscoggin River with Sunday River ski area in the upper left

Six minutes from my home is the little village of Rumford Center. It's the quintessential small New England town with a white-spired church smack dab in the center, a large cemetery, and white clapboard community house.  Parking for the Glassface Mountain trail is a gravel lot named Hastings Landing that's right on the Androscoggin River. Hastings Landing also serves as parking for a boat launch.

The Landing is named after a friend and former assistant ski coach, Ann Hastings Morton. Her family has played an active role in my coaching life. Her  husband, Dave, coached skiing with me and their son, Paul, skied three events as a skimeister on our team in the 1980s. He also played an energetic brand of soccer on my Rumford High School team--he had a great engine. Ann and Dave's daughter, Pam, was on my first-ever soccer team, The Rumford Stinkers. And then there was Tom who skied alpine on my team in the early 1980s.

Newspaper article about my book, The Mosquito Test,
with my students Erica, Neil, and Stephanie. 
Tom, a carpenter in Colorado, battled cancer in the early 1990s when I taught, coached, and ran the writing center at the newly-formed Mountain Valley High School. During those early years, I also taught Erica, Neil, and Stephanie, three delightful kids who lived with cystic fibrosis.

Tom's cancer and Erica, Neil, and Stephanie's lives with CF sparked the idea for my book, The Mosquito Test (1994).  At the time, I thought about a teenager with CF, considered a chronic terminal disease in the early 1990s, befriending another teenager who had recently acquired cancer. In this case the friendship formed when the two kids became tennis partners.

Living in your own hometown conjures lots of memories... parking in Hastings Landing did just that.


Climbing Glassface takes 25-30 minutes. The trail had a few mudded-out areas but those sections didn't diminish the view.

Androscoggin River

Bailey looking a bit miffed... or like his false teeth fell out. 

Pretty boy

Sunday River

Wicked handsome boy ;-) 

Happy on the summit 


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Scooting up Whitecap

Post-hike happiness... 
he knows a peanut butter treat is in his future. 

After work, we zipped up to Whitecap Mountain for a near 4-mile hike. The snow has disappeared for the most part and there's minimal ice left.

Within the first 5 minutes of the hike, we met a family of 4. As I glanced up the hill, I could tell they were pulling a wheelchair backwards up the hill. A little girl of about 5 or 6 called Bailey a sweetie or a similar term and the elderly woman in the wheelchair reached out to pet him. The two women yanking on the wheelchair, daughters I assumed, had purple hair.

"We're having a picnic," said one woman.

"Perfect!" I said.

And off we went so they could set up their meal.

Post Script: It just struck me that I believe the older woman may have had purple hair, too. Reminds me of a poem I used to read to my students back in high school, "When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple." I hope they had a memorable picnic on the slopes of Whitecap Mountain.

Bailey peeing on the Black/White Trail sign. 

From the Black/White Trail... Sunday River with
The Presidential Range in the background.

Trail Map (AllTrails) to the Black/White Trail.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stop reading

"Please stop reading." 
This morning while reading a fabulous book titled Stay, Bailey put his feet up on my knees and stared at me.

"Stop reading! Let's Play! Let me have another bone!" This pose is not infrequent, though some days he's more interested in a nap after breakfast.

When I have Zoom meetings with colleagues, students, or an audience of writing center folks or coaches, he often climbs up into my lap and stares into the camera. Most folks laugh, call his name, and offer him a virtual treat. One uptight high school coach was having none of the cute dog deal and acted a bit miffed that my old dog would interrupt the meeting. Ah well.

Then there are those mornings when the 10:00am carrot and coffee break are not quite enough, and he thinks we should start running around the house or go out... or, again, that he deserves yet another mid-morning treat. At these times, he sits on his hind legs, lifts up his big feet, and flops them on my desk while I frantically push the computer and coffee mug off to the side.

We manage, Bailey and I. But life is a compromise for both of us.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

One of the many gifts

Kellie and John Auger, April 4, 2020, Black Mountain of Maine

One of the many gifts of being a teacher and coach is unexpected meetings with former students. Today, that happened on a mountaintop in the old home town. Forty years ago John Auger worked as hard as any athlete I’ve ever coached. And talk about grace on skis. Here’s to chance meetings on mountain tops, good memories, and plans for a summer hike.

April 4, 2020, Black Mountain