John Holyoke did a great job of choosing some of his best columns and stories for his book Evergreens, published by Islandport Press. John has been the outdoor columnist and reporter for the Bangor Daily News for 18 years and had lots of stories to choose from.
One thing I really enjoyed about his book is that many of these stories brought back wonderful memories of my own outdoor adventures. And that started with the very first story in the book. It was about a small stream where he caught trout as a kid. As a kid I hiked deep into the woods behind my house to fish a small brook and I often brought home enough fish to feed my family for supper.
I especially liked the section of the book on some of the special Mainers that John hunted and fished with and wrote about. One of those was Wiggie Robinson, who John calls a legend, and Wiggie was certainly that.
Wiggie was an exceptional hunting and fishing guide in the Millinocket region, but more than that, he was a friend to everyone he met, including me. I especially appreciated the column John wrote after Wiggie died at the age of 85. “It was extremely difficult to meet the man without ending up being his friend,” wrote John. And his follow-up story, titled “I Miss My Dad,” is about Wiggie’s son Jay.
I am pleased John included a story about Mt Chase Lodge in Shin Pond. Lindsay and her husband Mike took over the lodge a few years ago from her parents who had operated it for 40 years. My wife Linda and I visited them and wrote one of our travel columns about the lodge which is a very special place. Mike is a great chef. I will never forget the amazing dinner we had on the lodge’s porch overlooking the pond. And Lindsay is a very friendly hostess.
Then there is the story about Alvin Theriault, a retired game warden who created a very successful business selling the flies he tied. I can tell you I caught a lot of fish on Alvin’s maple syrup fly, one of his most popular. And like all of the people John wrote about, Alvin is a wonderful and very friendly guy.
John’s story about fishing opening day in Grand Lake Stream brought back some great memories of my own. I did that once too. On the side of the stream where most people park, I had very little luck so I crossed over to the other side, walked up towards the dam, and found a spot where I caught some beautiful salmon. I love the picture on the book’s cover of John and a couple of other guys all bundled up and wading the stream. Yup, opening day can be very cold!
Well, I could write something about every one of John’s great stories, from his two successful moose hunts to some of his great fishing adventures to his camping experiences with his wife and kids. Yes, John Holyoke loves Maine, including most of the special places that I also enjoyed.
This is a book that you will hold on to and read more than once, stopping after many chapters to enjoy some of your own wonderful memories.