I hope you’re doing well! The weather is warming up out there. I hate to admit it, but I’ve broken out a single pair of shorts. Of course, I can’t wear shorts without sandals. In other words, I’ve held out as long as humanly possible to break out the Birkenstocks and here we are. If I’m being honest, though, I actually waited a little longer to break them out than last year. I recall doing a lot of crazy things at the start of quarantine (cutting bangs, joining TikTok, etc.) and wearing Birks with wool socks in early March was definitely one of them. Although I don’t remember even putting my sandals away last year. At least I can say that I had to go searching for them before I could wear them again this year.
As always, I hope you’re doing well. We’re past the halfway mark of the semester and I hope I speak for all of us when I say I couldn’t be more excited for summer. Whether you plan to work as much as you can or take it easy, I feel like we’re all in need of a little break (whatever that may look like for you)!
Oprah Winfrey’s two-hour interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has sparked conversations around the world, as new details about their departure from Britain were revealed. Allegations of racism, insensitivity and deep-rooted issues within the royal system have left many with questions and varying commentary. According to television network CBS, more than 49.1 million people have streamed the interview. Among those viewers are Jack Bisson, 20, and Maraia Nason, 20, who attended a viewing party of the event.
One of the most arguably shocking revelations made in the interview was in regard to Meghan’s mental health. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan said in the interview. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening, constant thought. And I remember how he [Harry] just cradled me.” It was after this that Meghan shared that she had gone to the institution to ask for mental health services. She, however, was denied access to help.
Bisson weighed in. “On the one hand, I sort of get how the royal family wants to keep their perfect image for the public,” he said. “But that being said, I think that denying anybody help when they’re sick is wrong. Meghan straight up saying she wanted to kill herself indicates the need for some sort of medical attention and the fact that the royal family would not acknowledge this is reminiscent of the situation Diana was in back when she did her interview. She basically said the same thing then that Meghan is now.” Bisson went on to raise points about the Royals’ naivete regarding mental health.
Nason shared similar thoughts. “The way in which Meghan was denied mental health services from the institution was distasteful,” she said. “Essentially because of her status and the attention it would draw, she could not receive help from a hospital. She was pushed into a corner, unable to access any treatment. This denied access must have only further contributed to her mental illness.”
The history of maple sugaring and production in Maine goes back far before the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Native Americans had been making sugar from the sweet sap of maple trees for many years. Up until the 15th century when sugar cane was brought to the Americas, maple sugar was the primary form of sugar in the United States. Now, pure maple syrup is thought of as a delicacy. In Maine, Maine Maple Sunday is a day for sweet tooth fanatics to enjoy an organic and preservative-free option while supporting small and local businesses.
Maple Sunday is held annually on the fourth Sunday of March. Kiera Greene’s family lives in Sebago, Maine. Her family is quite familiar with what it takes to get ready for such an exciting annual event. “We start by tapping trees as soon as the weather cooperates,” she explained. “The nights have to be below freezing and the days have to be above freezing for sap to run.” Greene’s family owns and operates Greene Maple Farm. The farm was founded in 1969 by Ted and Loretta Greene. “I have been helping out with Maine Maple Sunday ever since I could walk,” she said. “I’ve had the same tree that I’ve tapped ever since I was two-years-old.”
The process of getting the maple sap from the tree to the bottle and to a maple lover is a lengthy one. “Making maple syrup is quite long,” Greene said. “You have to have enough sap to boil and once that has boiled, you put it through filters and put it in the finish pan, where it will be packaged once it is ready.” Then you have to consider the number of taps. “Last year, Greene Maple Farm had around 971 taps,” she said. “But this year we’ve surpassed 1,000.”
I hope you are all doing ellway. The weather we’ve been having has me so tempted to pull out my Birkenstocks. I keep thinking it might be warm enough for me to not worry about ockssay. My roommate thinks I’m just being impatientyay. But a girl can eamdray! I think I speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait to see grass again. Something about the smell of spring puts me in etterbay iritsspay.
As always, I want to say that I hope everyone is doing well, as things are still a little extraordinary due to COVID. I know that I’ve been keeping busy by trying to perfect my oothiesmay recipe before summer hits. For my recipe so far, I put: angomay, awberriesstray, and a whole ananabay with almondyay ilkmay and anillavay eekgray ogurtyay. I like mine a little sweet, so I also add a smidge of oneyhay before blending to erfectionpay.
Well, that’s all I have for this month. I look forward to writing you again when, hopefully, April showers bring May flowers.
Jack Bisson, 20, grew up in Raymond, Maine. “I’ve lived around here my entire life,” he said. “That’s why I was so surprised to hear about this supposed natural wonder right in my hometown.” Bisson was referring to Maine’s most recently discovered natural wonder, Raymond Pond. The pond’s surface area covers 344 acres, and its maximum depth is 42 feet. To qualify as a natural wonder, something must be deemed a natural site or monument that was not created or significantly altered by humans. “What makes this place special are the natural underground aquifers,” he said. “They’re like, hot. So, when everything else is cold and snowy this time of year, Raymond Pond sits at a toasty 86 ℉. The water’s warm and everything is green and vibrant.”
The hidden gem is thought to be a naturally occurring oasis formed by an underground aquifer. The aquifer then creates enough pressure for water to seep to the surface, forming the oasis. Aquifers like this allow for life to exist in harsh climates like those of Maine winters. Being the only oasis to exist in the state, Maine has agreed to add the location to its list of natural wonders. Other natural wonders on the list include tourist attractions such as Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park and Vaughan Woods in Hallowell, also dubbed “Hobbit Land” based on how much the Woods look like the “Shire,” where J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginary Hobbits live.
The pond, which sees most of its visitors in the summer, expects no growth in the number of tourists. “My girlfriend’s family has a camp on the island,” Bisson said. “Usually in the winter, the only people we’ve seen on the pond are snowmobilers. They ride their sleds to the end of the road, get off, and hike in for a swim. Other than that, it’s pretty quiet. That’s the way most of the people who have camps and summer homes on the pond like it.”
The inclusion of Raymond Pond on Maine’s list of natural wonders will provide locals with assurance that the pond’s environment will be protected. “I know that that makes my girlfriend’s family happy,” Bisson said. “She grew up coming here with her siblings and spending time here with her cousins. Her family to this day celebrates big things like graduations and holidays here. It would be a shame for something like this to be ruined by too much people traffic.” The town plans to limit the number of visitors to the location in the winter months to ensure the area, which is populated with personal property, remains quaint.
I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day, or day after Valentine’s Day (cashing in on all the discounted chocolate). Life has been quiet here in southern Maine, as I’ve been taking this semester remotely from home. I never thought I’d miss poutine more than I do right now.
Did anyone else hear that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow in Groundhog Day? That allegedly means that we’re going to have an additional six weeks of winter. What do you think? I hope that the weather starts to warm up. I’ve been going through a lot of wood trying to keep the house warm these past couple weeks. In fact, I had to get four more pallets of wood! Hopefully I won’t go through all of it. Fingers crossed we start to see signs of spring here soon.
With all that is still going on in the world today, I hope you all are staying safe and healthy. I know a lot of people just want some normalcy back, and I feel that way, too. It’s felt like a long winter and I think a little warmth would do us all some good. Here’s hoping for warmer and sunnier days.
Nestled in the heart of Maine’s Lakes and Mountain region is Pleasant Mountain. The ski resort first opened its slopes to visitors in 1938, having only a 1,100-foot tow rope that served lower parts of the mountain’s slopes. By the mid 1950s, Pleasant Mountain installed Maine’s first T-Bar as well as the state’s second chairlift. The 4,300-foot double chairlift brought skiers from near and far to the top of the north peak of the mountain, overlooking Bridgton’s Moose Pond. By the late 1980s, new ownership of the mountain brought changes. Of the many improvements to the slopes, lifts and facilities, the owners also renamed Pleasant Mountain to Shawnee Peak.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shawnee has worked diligently to meet and comply with CDC recommendations, as well as orders per Maine’s Governor Janet Mills, in order to ensure visitors’ safety. Sam Fleck has worked at Shawnee Peak for three years as a barback, working closely with the bartender. “Shawnee Peak has taken many precautions for the pandemic to keep both the customers and employees safe,” he said. “The amount of people inside has been limited and only a certain amount of people are allowed in a room at a time.”
Fleck shared several other changes Shawnee has made, including more food options offered outside and the Blizzards Pub deck being renovated to provide covered seating, complete with heaters. Bethany MacKay, 45, observed these changes on her recent trip to the mountain. “They’re really trying hard to make it accessible in a safe way. I do hope that they follow through and continue that,” she said. “Having that outdoor space makes it a lot easier and it’s nice. People can gather within their own group and there’s still plenty of space.”
The mountain’s central location makes it a hub for school ski teams and families not looking to drive too far for a day of skiing. Maya Vanhise, 14, started skiing when she was in third grade. Vanhise enjoys Shawnee for both its size and its friendly atmosphere. Vanhise feels the changes made have had a minimal impact on the overall atmosphere. “I feel like things are pretty similar,” she said. “Like, people are pretty nice just because we’re all going through the same thing.”
The University of Maine at Presque Isle had quite an extraordinary year in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the institution to close its doors and send its students home for the first time since World War II in 1943. Though this made the delivery of learning differ from regular practice, the UMPI community worked through the transition.
The fall of 2020 brought with it more than online classes, though, as three of the community’s beloved members died. The following articles are in remembrance of the late John Haley, adjunct professor and Director of University Experience; Patrick Baker, Head Athletic Trainer; and Allen Salo, Associate Professor of Psychology.
Allen Salo began working at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1997 as an untenured junior faculty member. But in time, Allen became the senior faculty member in psychology who oversaw the development of the department’s curriculum. This included adding concentrations within the psychology department as well as developing the research-based aspects of the program and a clinical side. Allen felt it was important for students to have both.
“He was critical for really growing the clinical side of the program,” President Ray Rice, Allen’s longtime friend and colleague, said. “And bringing people like Frank Thompson, who teaches a bunch of the clinical courses. He really developed that as well as developing the research side of psychology and really making it an independent program. Because when he got here, it was a part of behavioral sciences, it wasn’t its own degree. So, he really helped make it its own degree.”
Allen and Ray both started at UMPI the same year. “We came with what was the biggest group of faculty they had ever hired at once in years,” Ray said. “And this was 23 years ago. He and I started the exact same summer and had the exact same meetings and all that stuff, along with Michael Knopp. The three of us were the ones who stayed all this time. It was Allen, Mike and me. So, we got to know each other from that point in time because we did a lot of stuff together right off the bat.”
Ray remembers some of the earliest memories with Allen were at house of President Easton, UMPI’s former president. “He had a dinner, or I think it might have been an after dinner hors d’oeuvres thing for the new faculty members,” he said. “And I remember he (President Easton) was welcoming us to UMPI and we were getting to know each other. He and I both got involved with the union, so we went to a lot of meetings and statewide meetings. That’s how we really got to know each other.”
From there, Allen and Ray created a friendship that included some roof shingling on the weekends and dinners at Applebee’s when the colleagues traveled downstate for meetings. Further, senior faculty members invited the two to “choir practice.” Choir practice, as Ray explained, was code for dinner and drinks. The two found the cryptic code for socializing hilarious.
Outside of the psychology department, Allen was a part of several groups at UMPI. “He was willing to be on committees,” Jean Cashman, UMPI’s Associate Professor of Social Work, said. “And he was active in the faculty union, which is called AFUM. He was part of the faculty assembly leadership at different times in his career, and was on other committees, too. So, he was willing to step up and be part of the work that needed to be done on campus.”
Among some of the work Allen completed during his time at UMPI, Jean believes that obtaining a specific certification for the psychology program tops them all. “That’s the MHRT, because it’s not required for psychology,” she said. “And trying to get your program approved through the Muskie Institute.” The MHRT, which stands for Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician, is a certification required in the state of Maine (and many other states) for psychology students seeking work. “It’s beneficial for the students, but I mean you can still graduate with a psychology degree and not have the requirements for that,” Jean said. “I think accomplishing that for our campus, the students, was above and beyond.”
UMPI will continue to remember and miss Allen’s kindness and friendly smile. “Allen was always kind,” Jean said. “He didn’t have a negative word to say about anybody.”
Ray believes his favorite memory of Allen is looking back at his late friend’s wedding photos. “I wasn’t at his wedding because I was out of town,” he said. “But seeing the photos and how happy he was from his wedding: that’s quintessential Allen. And the big smile on his face. He always had one of the best smiles. And the moustache, he always had—he never shaved the moustache. It was pretty hilarious.”
Ray went on to say that he was most happy for Allen’s happiness in his marriage. That happiness permeated every aspect of Allen’s life, as he carried that joy with him throughout his remaining time at UMPI.
Patrick Baker first came to the University of Maine at Presque Isle as a nontraditional student studying health and wellness with the goal of getting a degree in Athletic Training. Barbara Blackstone, dean, College of Professional Programs, remembers what it was like to have Pat in class. “It was fun to have a student who had some knowledge already in the field of fitness and health. Just his natural way of helping people,” she said. “He instantly turned into a mentor to younger students, to his own classmates. He just had a way about him from the very beginning that put people at ease and helped people feel comfortable.” In 2008, Pat graduated from UMPI with a degree in athletic training.
By 2011, Pat had returned to UMPI to fill the position of Assistant Athletic Trainer. He quickly moved up to Head Athletic Trainer when the previous head left. “We instantly moved him up because he was ready to do that position,” Barb said. “He was very skilled at being an athletic trainer and learned the ins and outs of all the administrative roles you have when you’re the head athletic trainer.”
It was during his time serving in this position that he met his dear friend Dan Kane, UMPI’s Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation as well as men’s basketball coach. Dan was visiting UMPI for an interview in April of 2017. “During my on-campus visit, I met one-on-one with Pat,” Dan said. “With just 15 minutes of talking to him, we hit it off right away. What stuck out to me was his knowledge of athletic training and his passion for helping the student athletes and teams achieve success.”
It wasn’t long after his start at UMPI that Dan started to see how devoted to his athletes Pat was. “Athletic training is a tough job with long hours. You have to work long weekends and some holidays,” he said. “And depending on the time of year it can be a seven-day-a-week job. Pat was there every time for every practice ready to go. In my 14 years of being involved in college athletics, Pat has been the best athletic trainer I have been around. His ability to connect with student athletes was one of the many things that made him perfect for his profession.”
Barb shared similar thoughts. “He was always very concerned about the students’ success,” she said. “And in the athletic training program, often times the most important person in the program is the head athletic trainer, because that’s the mentor of your students. That’s the person that’s going to engage them in the day-to-day duties of an athletic trainer, how to learn things and how to do things. So, he was there as a mentor, but he also taught.”
Outside of UMPI, Pat was both a friend to many and father to his beloved Zoey. “His little girl was the light of his life,” Barb said. “They had a very special relationship.” It wasn’t unusual to see Zoey bopping around the AT room, which some student athletes called “Pat’s Spa,” while her Dad worked away.
“It was so fun to see her come in to visit,” Barb said. Pat would occasionally bring her to sporting events, too, introducing his daughter proudly to everyone he knew or was just meeting.
His athletes adored Zoey and could tell how delighted he was to be her father. “He loved her very much and would do anything for her,” Dan said. “He set a great example for our student athletes and others on how to be a great parent.”
Pat will be remembered by his laidback, humorous and caring nature. He will especially be remembered for his kind heart. “Pat was one of the kindest individuals you will come across,” Dan said. “He was willing to do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat and he was always there to pick you up in your darkest hour, often with a perfectly timed joke or movie quote.”
Pat will also be remembered as a legend. “In our last practice together, Pat hit a half-court shot at the end of practice,” Dan said. “It was the first time in four years that Pat had made it and his reaction was priceless, as he lifted his arms and gave a yell in triumph.”
Pat’s department at UMPI hopes to have a plaque placed outside of the AT room in remembrance of his vibrant soul.