When you rise at four, nature rewards you. Rain was forecast, and I was on the road by five. A porcupine waddled surprisingly quickly along the shoulder of the road, then vanished into the woods. I entered the Seboeis parcel of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on the American Thread Road. Since yesterday’s drive, I’d been pondering that name.
At first, I envisioned the historic site of a mill that manufactured sewing thread. Not so, although I was on the right track. The American Thread Company also produced wooden spools to hold its thread. When the supply of birch was exhausted in one area, a new spool mill would be built elsewhere. The last, in Milo, Maine, was in operation from 1902 to 1975.
At the short Kimball Deadwater trail, I unloaded my canoe and carried it down to the water. The telltale wake of a cruising beaver cut across the wide water, and I spotted a sleek brown head gliding along. I savored the short paddle, drifting close to photograph sheep laurel and blue flag iris.
Of course, the true barometer of success would be spotting a moose. I spent an hour quietly waiting. A strong wind had risen ahead of the rain and it washed over me, keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Delicate heads of marsh grass bowed low, and the red-winged blackbirds moved with restless energy, flashes of color bright in the cloudy sky. From near and far came the twang of bullfrogs.
Before giving up, I paddled the length of the deadwater a second time, 15 minutes for the round trip. It isn’t large. Near a patch of spatterdock, I saw the beaver again, or another one. After I was well gone up the trail came an emphatic tail slap that said, “Good riddance.”