In 1973 a group of students in Kennebunk, Maine complied a series of home-spun articles about life in New England into The Salt Book. Led by the group’s adviser Pamela Wood, they documented lobster men making traps, a barn raising, the gathering of sea moss, wrote articles about how to make your own wooden snow shoes and generally waxed on about the characters and daily life by the sea in Maine.
Recently while I was booking a cottage in Maine for the summer, I was reminded of this book and my jaunt up there last year. I have a hard time disguising my affection for the state and nothing fills me with anticipation like an escape up to Maine. It doesn’t have to just be summer — I’m equally impressed by fall, winter and spring in the Pine Tree State. Even though I grew up in Ohio, much of my family was from New England originally and we often when on summer trips to The Cape, New Hampshire and those parts. Long after those trips I am still fascinated by Yankee culture and the salty folks of New England. So even though I am stuck in this new york winter (stuck largely inside for the better part of the past six weeks due to the most ironic of injuries) the stories in The Salt Book can easily transport me to one of my favorite places.
Thinking about how high school kids would go about this type of thing now, it just wouldn’t be the same. This blog could never come close to having the presence, the physical actuality of something like The Salt Book. It makes me appreciate those kids for telling the stories, Pamela for compiling it, Jared Stern for giving it to me and it makes me appreciate a book that I can really hold in my hand. Even being just 35, I can recognize that many things just aren’t the same anymore. Though maybe one day they will get the science just right and the the perfect algorithm will replicate on your Kindle what it feels like to flip through an old book. That’s progress, right?