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We just finished reading We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickinson Rich. She wrote it in the 1930s while living in the backwoods of western Maine with her husband, son, and a friend of theirs. It chronicles their day-to-day lives, on the shore of a river near Umbagog Lake, in a place so remote that there was no road out.

She tells stories about preparing for “freeze-up” in the fall, when the lakes (their route to the outside world) were too icy for boats but not icy enough to support vehicles, essentially cutting them off. She tells of coming across the odd bear while picking blueberries from an endless patch. She tells of log drives and hurricanes, and how to make the best baked beans. She tells of adopting a baby skunk, who made a very civilized house pet, until he grew up and took to the woods himself.

The writing is so fresh it could have been written yesterday, yet it’s so clearly a window into another time. We liked it so much we put off reading it, because we didn’t want it to end.

In case you pick it up yourself, and are curious, here’s a map showing where they so frugally lived. The property is currently for sale for $1.3 million.


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