Teachers, from kindergarten to college, are always trying to find a way to connect with the students who regularly settle into the seats of their classrooms. This year, my students and I spent a good deal of our time focusing on Maine writers and the work they produced. We studied E.B. White, Elizabeth Strout, Stephen King, Bruce Coffin, Kate Flora, Richard Russo, and Paul Doiron and a number of others.
Along the way, we seemed to come back to one common or recurring question.
Was there something special about the state of Maine that inspired them? Was there something in the water, in their DNA, or was it a matter of having more time than most of the rest of the world during the long, cold winter months to create their own art.
Strange as it might seem, I think we found part of the answer this past week when we traveled to Acadia National Park and climbed Cadillac Mountain. Call me crazy, but this 10-mile walk through the woods might have been one of the best days of the school year. Many of my students are working as fast as they can to get through high school and join the rest of the world as working and respected adults.
The students in this group generally seem to think that high school is just something to be endured until they get to the real prize – college, a university, a job, or in some cases, the military. I understand and I remember (barely) how anxious I felt at their age to fend for myself, to show anyone who might be interested that I too could manage on my own. But I also remember the moments when I realized that I was just a small part of something that was much bigger and far more majestic.
Maybe a few minutes on a mountain in Maine would give them a small sense of that. From the looks on their faces as we reached the summit and quietly took in the views, I think I might have succeeded.
If nothing else, they now have a grander sense of the state that inspired some of our favorite writers.
Stay tuned – as always, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll write about it.
Thanks again for reading my stories and as always, you may purchase my novel, Homecoming: A Soldier’s Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption at your local, independent bookstore or online: DavidArenstam.com, BrysonTaylorPublishing.com, or Amazon.com
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