Here’s the Skinny on Thursday’s event: Zoom along with my talk and discussion about Mortal Things at the fantastic Jesup Library in Mt Desert Island’s Bar Harbor. The library’s website provides the sign-up for you. It’s from 7 to 8 PM on Thursday, March 16. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! https://www.jesuplibrary.org/events/mortal
According to Maine: An Encyclopedia, Portuguese sailor Estevan Gomes became the first European to lay eyes on MDI (Mount Desert Island) during a 1525 exploration for Spain. In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the island, naming it and the islands Isles des Monts Desert, in recognition of the bare mountains that dominated the area. Mount Desert Island is home to Bar Harbor, in what now is the American state of Maine.
In the four-plus centuries since, Bar Harbor has become famous as a summer escape, first for the wealthy then for more ordinary folks. In the early twentieth century, some of the island’s incredibly wealthy summer people saw fit to create what became Acadia National Park, a gorgeous natural refuge that sees millions of visitors each year. As is often the case, living side-by-side with those rich “rusticators” (and the landscape painters that followed), were so many ordinary working people—commercial fishermen, and other skilled and unskilled workers—that if the walls of the island’s homes, institutions, woods, and rocky coves could talk, we’d hear a great diversity of voices—and far more so when we include the many generations of Native American residents of the area, whose ancestors had a presence on the island for thousands of years, and who were displaced as Europeans took the land. It is hard to imagine any segment of the island’s historical inhabitants who wouldn’t have been awestruck by the natural beauty around them. Surely, they harbored memories that mattered to them.
We tell stories to remember what is important to us. Libraries become temples of memory in communities large and small, and Bar Harbor is no exception. Although the casualties of the 1947 Bar Harbor fire did not include the library itself, that fire destroyed the private home that stored most of the library’s historical records. The Jesup’s board of directors continues its efforts to document the gaps in their historical record of the town’s history. That sort of mission is part of why I hold libraries in such reverence.
The nation, the town, and the library have come a long way from the days in which European expansion removed the Penobscot Peoples from ancestral homes and from when a prospective donor (1889) offered a tract of land with the proviso that no Catholic be allowed to serve as a library trustee—an offer the town rejected. History takes us back and helps us move forward. And libraries make all of that more possible.
On Thursday evening at 7 PM, I will speak at Jesup Library about Mortal Things, my novel that grapples with issues of loss, memory, and survival—life challenges that we all face. I am honored to be able to meet readers and lovers of stories in Bar Harbor, and I invite those of you who live far from Bar Harbor to join the talk and discussion by Zoom.
Thanks for reading this post. If you like it, I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter @nedbachus, at nedbachus.com, and that you’ll Like the Facebook Page, Open Admissions.
Mortal Things, my novel, can be ordered online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org at the bottom of this link: https://www.treeoflifetreeofjoy.com/mortal-things OR you can order it at your favorite local independent bookstore!