For most businesses in Danforth, Maine, July 4th weekend is the peak of the season. However, this July 4th, not only is the weather gloomy, but the economy is under the weather too, so to speak. Over years past, Mainers have seen the decline of the forestry industry and the lobster franchise, due to trade tariffs and climate warming, and now the tourist bump has been levelled by Covid 19. Earlier today, a mourning dove was cooing, in a minor key it seemed, appropriate to the overcast atmosphere. Soon the wind from the northwest picked up and pushed the lake water over the dock. Heavy droplets of rain pounded out an uneven symphony on the Gruman aluminum canoe. No fishing with Greg today. It is not just the discomfort of being out in the rain, but the bass can be “unfriendly” – maybe they can’t distinguish the bait from the rain on the surface of the water. It is a quiet day, and the pandemic has limited us from inviting company for the weekend. The fire in the hearth has been roaring since early morning, not only for warmth but for comfort.
The Fourth of July will be a day of watercolor painting and reading. I keep a portfolio of cut-out images for inspiration and recently graduated from painting fish and brilliantly colored flies to fishermen in canoes. I just finished reading a book by Carl Marlantes entitled Big River, about the history of the immigration of the Finns to Oregon and the establishment of the lumber industry. I also brought with me to camp a few books about the early settlement in the Sierras and the area around Downieville. Interestingly, my little community in Danforth, Maine, has many similarities. Logging could have been a major industry in the Sierras but for the discovery of gold. Maine had farming and dug potatoes out of the soil instead of gold nuggets. It all came to an end years ago—the logging and the prospecting and Danforth like Downieville has downsized. The last remaining gold nugget in Downieville is the Mountain Messenger. What is left here in Danforth is the camping and fishing tourism. Danforth no longer has a newspaper. The local population here cannot support it. The school has only a handful of students and the gas station survives as part of the local deli and café. This year the tourist traffic is minimal and for most businesses in Danforth, Maine, July 4th weekend is the peak of the season. However, some of it headed north to Canada. Route 1 to Machias is quiet except for the occasional truck carrying logs to the pulp mill. There are fewer RVs camped out at the park across the lake this year, and fewer boats on the water, which means fewer cabins have been rented. Not a lot of out of state plates. The mandatory two-week quarantine was lifted yesterday. Maybe it will be an incentive for people to come visit. I hope so. My friends in Maine are open for business and welcoming to all.