About 25 years ago, the Klu Klux Klan got the bright idea to hold a rally in Rumford.
When word got out, most of the people I knew in this lily white state were horrified. Thousands turned out for the anti-Klan rally, which itself was pretty anti-climatic.
The Rumford Klan turned out to be six shiftless-looking guys in the back of a pickup truck flying a rebel flag as they drove through town one time.
A buddy and I drove up together to join the anti-Klan protest. Once we got there we saw way more State Police than Klan members.
It was about this time of year. The leaves were peaking as we rode up from Gorham to Rumford. Along the way we solved all the problems of the world the way young people do.
I was in college at the time, and I was far smarter and knew far more then, than I could ever hope to know now.
Anyway, I was expounding on some nugget of wisdom, when just outside of Rumford, I noticed the scenery. It was gorgeous. The leaves were at peak – or near peak. The colors: reds and yellows and oranges and browns. It was literally breathtaking.
It occurred to me at the time, that I missed it. We had had been on the road for about two hours, talking our heads off, completely oblivious to one of the most beautiful sights on Earth, spread out before us.
I told my buddy and we both felt foolish. We rode in silence the rest of the way.
I think about that ride often because I still carry it with me. The lesson I learned was it is easy to get so caught up in what you think is important, you actually can’t see what you are looking at.
Ever since then, everywhere I go, I try to remember to look around and soak it in.
In thinking about that this week; now, with Pumpkinfest 2013 rapidly receding in our review mirror, it feels like we made it.
We survived another summer of visitors from away; another year of crowded roads, surprise traffic jams, long lines at local businesses and weekly festivals, events and get togethers.
Not too long ago, there was a general sense that Maine closed up shop between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
In recent years, it feels like our summer is slowly being extended, especially as the weather turns cooler, and leaf peeping season begins.
The fact that the Pine Tree State is a year-round paradise has long been an open secret to those of us fortunate enough to live here, but the secret is out.
Anyway, this might be a good time to take a breath.
We have a moment before the holidays descend in full force and looking far ahead, next year at this time our pages will be crammed, chock full of political coverage.
Given all that has gone on, and will go on between the 2012 and 2014 elections, this really might be a good time to pause, look around and give thanks for all that we have.