Finally, the crocuses are up. Together with paperwhites, narcissus, tulips and daffodils, they are the loud heralds of spring. When they appear it is clear that winter has gone and spring has come. In fields of brown and before the trees leaf out, these brilliant blooms scream SPRING!
Their exuberance is appreciated as thoughts concern friends, family and people who will not see this joy.
Two people who have joined the ranks of memories and warm thoughts worked tirelessly to build the County. Their passing is a loss.
Jim Baressi held the unofficial title of Mr. Aroostook County. He led efforts to bring development dollars to this long-forgotten patch of heaven and many of those development ideas are now blossoming in new businesses and activities.
His passion was fishing — fishing for Atlantic salmon, championing efforts to restock and rebuild a salmon fishing venue in the eighties. This work continues to this day. The image comes to mind of Jim in his waders wrestling a mature salmon from a hatchery truck. He wore a lot of the water that day. He wore those drops with a smile.
Another passionate fan of the County, Native American and proud of it, Caroline Francis joins the hallowed ranks of reeds and birds in the choir. A master basket maker, elder, and native healer she worked tirelessly to preserve knowledge of the healing qualities of the flora and fauna that bring beauty to The County.
Her joy continues in countless fields and streams her children and grandchildren share with us all.
Spring brings with it incredible joy for all the heartaches help these blossoms grow. It is time to celebrate. The day that these few words are etched in pigment on the sheets of newsprint is my mother’s birthday. In the future it may be possible to have more than one. But today, it’s all that any of us have — one. For all those late-night collect calls, trips to the hospital, travels and travails, there is but one chief cheerleader for any enterprise, known simply as Mom.
She finds beauty and strength in the rough and rocky ground called home, Aroostook County. Arriving in 1965, she has given a few bits of blood, swea, and tears to this lovely place. Continuing her championing of County life she can be found at the diner in Mapleton, The Northeastland’s Cafe, where she was welcomed with twins and husband so long ago, and the streets and communities of The County.
Proud as the flowers coming into bloom I wish her a very happy birthday today, with love.
Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.