E.B. White found a grassy plain trimmed with tall pine trees within Maine when he was beyond his youth. Pushing his children, wife, and belongings out of their house in New York City, he brought them to the place he hoped to never again leave. He filled his new acreage with chickens, ducks, dogs and later, geese, for which his essays have made him somewhat of a geese expert. Each time he added a new species to his expanding farm, freshly written essays clung to E.B.’s mind. Some of his greatest commentaries stem from his simple days chasing chickens during feeding time.
I’ve known Maine for most of my memorable life as the state I begged my parents to visit. My grandparents lived in a small cottage on a private pond off of a winding graveled road. Potted and freely growing flowers were present in whichever direction you cared to look. Each plant was carefully looked after by my grandfather–the only one in the family who received a green thumb, a gift from an ancestor. I suppose he gave that same gift to me in a tiny ribboned box, but he buried it deep within my psyche, where it would lie dormant until I took a summer job as a gardener/landscaper.
The ten steps it took me to slash into the cool, sweet water were always done in a sprint, with some adult reminding me to slow down. That girl has one speed, they said, shaking their heads. E.B. and I share this quality, of rushing the shake hands with nature. Both of us crave days of wandering barefoot into the edges of our properties, hunting for berries and letting their protective thorns hack at our shins. His bare calves furry with the kind of hairy legs that ages brings to a man, warding off the raspberry thorns, but not the blackberry spears. Mine naked, lacking adolescent years, and striped bloody lashings from my fruit-filled appetite.