Down East Books, Camden, Maine 2005
Local Landscapes from a Different Perspective
For eight fine days one August, John Gibson launched his 15-foot-long kayak into the rivers near his home in Hallowell.
He boned up on the human history of rivers such as the Kennebec, the Damariscotta and the Sheepscot before heading out. In Rivers of Memory: A Journey on Maine’s Historic Midcoast Waterways, he weaves their stories through
his own. Gibson readily conveys a sense of the role Maine’s midcoast rivers played in exploration, settlement, and industry in times past.
He does more than that, though, inviting readers along to experience the rivers as they are today while he kayaks along their banks.
The author of several New England hiking and travel guides, Gibson was inspired to travel these rivers by Henry David Thoreau’s account of his dory trip
along the Concord and Merrimack rivers of Massachusetts. Indeed, Thoreau fans may feel they are reading the work of a literary descendant.
Paddling along, Gibson is pleased to find the shores of the rivers are relatively quiet and undeveloped. He notes that as the old
shipbuilding and manufacturing sites fell into disuse and disappeared, vegetation reclaimed the shores. His kayak floats him undetected past
osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife. He discovers that silently moving along these waterways provides him with a perspective on the villages, fields and
forests that he could never obtain while traveling on the land. Twenty-three of his crisp black-and-white photographs further illustrate that perspective.
John Gibson is charmed by the rivers of Midcoast Maine, and the chance they provide him to appreciate his extended backyard more deeply. His eloquent account provides inspiration to get out of the house and get to know local landscapes better, by boat if you can.
Lee Bumsted is author of Hot Showers, a guide to traveling the Maine coast by small boat.