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Posted November 5, 2010
Where Cool Waters Flow: Four Seasons With a Master Maine Guide, Randy Spencer, 2009, ISBN 9781934031285
This book looks at a year in the life of a Maine Guide, a person who is certified as knowing the lakes and forests around Grand Lake Stream, Maine. For most people, it's an isolated bit of northern Maine, with a population barely over 100. For those who take their hunting and fly fishing seriously, it is an important place to experience.
Winter is a time for repairs or preventive maintenance on their specially built square stern canoes, called Grand Lakers. Most people need a second job to make it through the long winter. The author is a singer/songwriter who released several CDs. Mud season happens somewhere between winter and spring, when it seems as if the entire world has turned to mud. It is also a time to curse the roads and trails, made by the timber companies, which are frequently little more than collections of ruts and potholes.
Spring means the return of guiding clients, called "sports." Many sports have become friends, returning year after year. It's an important psychic boost to the year-round residents (and the money doesn't hurt). April 1 means the opening of fly fishing season. It's totally unimportant if there is still ice on the rivers, or if there are giant snowbanks leading right down to the water; serious fly fishermen will be there.
In summer, guides make use of every square inch of storage space in their canoes as they take sports out for an all-day fishing trip. The guide knows where trout or salmon are likely to hang out; it's not enough to simply cast and expect the fish to bite. There are a number of occurrences where sports experience emotional decompression or confess things to their guide while in the canoe. To be the only human beings on a lake with no other signs of human habitation, and to watch an eagle snatch a fish out of the lake, or to watch a moose or black bear rumble past, the term "religious experience" comes to mind.
In the autumn, fishing season gives way to hunting season. Some people have to use the newest "guaranteed" rifle or hunting gadget, while others stick with family heirlooms that have worked in the past. Autumn is also the time for house repairs, and wood chopping, that weren't taken care of during the summer.
Along with being a Maine Guide, and a musician, Spencer is also an excellent storyteller. He does a fine job of putting the reader in the canoe, or up a tree waiting for a large animal to walk by. For armchair sportsmen, and serious sportsmen, this is very highly recommended.