The heady spice of wood smoke… the first beacon of home welcoming me North.
In my home state of Maine, the scent of burning wood permeates every activity from late-September through ’till March or April (and in some years… early May). Even now, the odd whiff mysteriously drifting through the air in Philly has the power to instantly transport me. It punctuates the air in fall and winter, mixing with the icy stillness of an impending snowstorm, enveloping me like a security blanket. I never expected to be so tied to where I grew up, tied to the woods. For so long, I resisted. But no longer can I deny the softness that befalls my shoulders, the lack of tension that typically knits my brow… symptoms of stress leaving my body as I leave the city behind. That exciting, busy city life and all its secret stress — the kind you don’t even realize you’re burdened with — growing smaller in my rear view mirror as I navigate towards the place I will always consider my true home.
It’s been three years since I traveled to that little home in the woods for Thanksgiving, having lived too far away to make the trip while residing in Pittsburgh, and the time away was welcomed with open arms. From expressway to highway, highway to state road, and finally to the long and winding dirt track that leads to the home I grew up in. No cell phone service, no internet. No neighbors for miles. And snow in the forecast. For my busy, always working mind, it was the kind of forced quietude that I needed. A time to step away from the noise of the world, reset, and find some inspiration for inspiration’s sake. Like clockwork, not long after my crack-of-dawn arrival the snow began to fly and in a few short hours the wild land outside was blanketed in sixteen inches of perfect, pristine snow. Winter in Maine is a reminder to slow down, take your time. The roads may be treacherous, but there’s a warmth that awaits at the end of the drive.