I’ll bet you’ve never explored your town like this

Owls Head postcardYou may have visited the Owls Head lighthouse, or Lucia Beach, or even eaten one of those famous burgers at the Owls Head store, but you’ve never seen Owls Head as Jim Krosschell has seen it. Jim’s book, Owls Head Revisited, published by North Country Press in Unity, is both interesting and provocative.

Jim has lots of opinions about Maine, politics, the environment, and most especially everything in Owls Head from the airport (doesn’t like it) to the mansions of summer people (doesn’t like them) to the hard-working Mainers (likes them) to the ocean and forests and wildlife (loves them), to the very relaxing and reformative state of our State (that’s why he’s here).

I liked Jim’s concept for this book. He walked every road and trail in Owls Head and told us what he saw and experienced there. I could do that in Mount Vernon! Except for the fact I like to keep most of my favorite Mount Vernon places secret.  Jim may be sorry he spilled the beans when his favorite places are over-run with folks who read his book.

Jim and his wife, when they lived and worked in Massachusetts, spent as much time as they could in Maine, eventually purchasing a home in Owls Head. And now that they are retired, they’re spending much more time here. And who can blame them? After a career in science publishing, he’s spending a lot of his retirement time writing and has published his personal essays in more than 50 journals and magazines.

Quite a few folks have told me that they were surprised that so many of my columns, published in Maine newspapers and magazines and on websites, and in my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, are very personal stories. Well, Jim’s stories are very personal too. For some of us, that’s the only way we know how to write. He tells us all about Owls Head, as Owls Head relates to him.

Jim has three favorite walks. Here’s how he describes them:

These three are my trinity of places, at which I never stop worshipping. Raspberries appear twice a year on Bay View Terrace, the second growth in September a gift of smallness and sweetness. On Lucia Beach Road I stop and look for the osprey nest; it can be seen only from a certain angle. I watch the slow browning of the leaves in fall, the sudden, spurting green of swamp cabbage in early spring. In election season opposing party signs often appear on lawns directly next to each other, and one lawn in the fall of 2012 boasted both a sign to re-elect a Republican and a sign to approve same-sex marriage. I see sea smoke in January, fog in July. Crows announce themselves any time, any place, but I have grown especially fond of the troop of seven or eight who inhabit our shore, and I look forward to what they have to say to me each day. The variety of the same thing every day is redeemably amazing.

Indeed it is Jim.

This was one of my favorite passages in the book, about his stay in Maine after being fired from his job:

This is the walk I took obsessively in the fall of 2003 when I was spending time in Owls Head not necessarily by choice. This was the day in October when I came up from a crevice in the ledge, a small thunder hole where I had been standing for a while listening to the waves groan, and saw what I was always alert for. There was movement at the top of the bank, just at the edge of the bushes. Some small dark animal, so brown as to be nearly black, ventured out and immediately ducked into safety on seeing the human. Just an otter, I thought, rare enough at the ocean’s edge. But it was too black, maybe it was a fisher cat. Whatever it was, it was rare and wild and it lived among us – wary of our dogs and development, not so casual with us as the deer and the fox to be sure, but here. And I had to sit down: all of it together – the islands, the surf, the fir trees, the fisher – brought tears to my eyes, tears of elation and longing and desperate worry about it all being taken away.


I do have a bit of advice for Jim, after reading the following passage:

A colleague told me, to my face but laughing, in a land trust meeting in which I introduced myself to a guest as a half-Mainer, “You’ll never be a Mainer.” She meant it in the nicest possible way, I’m sure, she being one. Is it that obvious, I said to myself, as chagrin led to slight depression. I know I can be foolish about my passion for this place, Maine in general and Owls Head in particular. I proselytize for it, my inner John Calvin peeking out, although I try to keep him gentle; I preach salvation not by hellfire and damnation but by rockweed and bird song. But my big fear is that I’ll always be a visitor, or at best a re-visitor.

Good news Jim! Maine comedian Gary Crocker and I are working on a Community College course that “people from away” can take to be certified as Mainers. I will let you know when it is available.

Not everyone may like – or agree with – all of Jim’s opinions, but I think everyone will enjoy his book. He describes the state we love in a very unique way. And I can guarantee that you will want to get down to Owls Head soon, and tramp some of those roads and trails. Perhaps you will meet Jim there.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.