Gloom and doom. Blame and shame. Had enough?

Or are you gagging on stories about the kindness of strangers wearing face masks?

Whether your tendency leans toward optimism or pessimism, toward light or darkness, the pandemic has pushed and pulled us and will continue to do so. It’s provided turning points, and we’re turning.

In mid-coast Maine, where we live, we’ve seen the full range of responses to the pandemic.

Take the viral story about the island residents who went vigilante on a house full of workers whose car bears NJ license plates. It’s gotten its own play and the story is imbedded in this piece about some of the negative reactions of people in isolated small communities.

Seeing out-of-state license plates, some of the islanders apparently feared that outsiders might not scrupulously follow isolation guidelines, so they felled a tree across the house’s driveway, blocking any possible runs to the market, or anywhere else.

But the same global event that triggers one person’s fear response can prompt another person’s hope response, as Susan Mustapich’s story from the Village Soup shows. The main pic is a file photo from Village Soup.

For the first time in its 54-year history, the star on Mt. Battie will shine over Camden during the spring season, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to the Friends. The star will be lit each evening at sunset, shortly after 7 p.m.

Historically, the star shines from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Eve. As far as the Friends of Mt. Battie can recall, there has never been a time, until now, when the star has been erected outside the holiday season.

The force behind this historic move is Camden artist Heather Spencer.

Spencer, a self-employed artist, was close to wrapping up radiation treatment for breast cancer, and with her immunity compromised was unable to leave the house for anything but her treatments.

She suggested on a community Facebook site that putting up the light might be a good idea, and thanks to good-willed volunteers, that dream has become a reality.


t1200-Star Crew 040620
Photo: Peter Rollins
Mt. Battie Star Visible From Library on Camden Harbor–And Probably From Vinalhaven Island

Spencer can see the Mt. Battie star from her kitchen window, and from her studio window. “It gives me goosebumps. It brings me happiness,” she said. She envisioned the happiness seeing the star shining on the mountain now would bring to people in Camden.

 Thank you to Heather Spencer, and to all those among us who help light the way forward.


Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the “Turning Points” weekly blog on City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories, was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. Bachus’s article, “Learning From Turning Points in Our Teaching Lives,” was featured in the May issue of NEA Higher Education Advocate, which reaches over 150,000 college faculty in the U.S.