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Chapter 005 That boat's stopping at every dock

One day I noticed a boat traveling along shore and stopping at almost every dock. Upon closer inspection, I saw those docks had mail boxes attached to them, and the man driving the boat was putting mail into them. Turns out Great Pond had one of only four remaining water postal routes certified by the U.S. Postal Service, and it still does. It was started around 1900, and is available to residents with homes on the lake during the summer season.

It’s a carryover from a time when travel, even between camp and town, wasn’t as easy as in later years. So when people came to camp for the summer, they mostly stayed there and lake mail delivery was a welcome and useful service. Now it’s a nostalgic luxury, one the Postal Service keeps threatening to discontinue to cut costs. I hope they don’t since I find it a delightful nostalgic luxury.

The lake mail is addressed to the Belgrade Lakes Post Office, with a special lake delivery designation. The person who does the delivery bids on a contract to do it for the three months from mid-June to mid-September. He gets to charge people to ride with him, and that’s a great way to see the lake and get close to all the camps to check them out. Doing that in your own boat just to gawk would be considered rude, even though the lake itself is technically public property.

In our early years at camp, a close approach by lake was the signal to bring out the clay pigeons and shotguns and begin trapshooting. But I’ve since developed a different strategy. One day, recently, when I felt our personal space was being violated by several kayakers cruising in front of our camp within five feet of shore, which put them well inside our raft, a traditional no-trespass zone that only the most inconsiderate would violate, I took action. Flash, our strong, athletic, large Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and I were sitting on the porch, facing the lake. Flash was also of a mind those kayakers had ventured too far into our space as evidenced by his low and menacing growls. I whispered to him under my breath, “Get ‘em, Flash.” With a loud, “WOOF!” he jumped up, slammed open the screen door, exploded through it, and, barely touching the steps, reached the ground, covered the remaining distance to the lakeside granite wall in a second, and launched himself out over the lake, almost landing in one of the kayaks. The man who had just come dangerously close to having a 100 pound flying dog drop into his lap, looked surprisingly composed, and shouted up to me, “Well, that’s one way to keep people from coming too close to your camp.” I just smiled and responded, “A-yuh.” It's The Maine Way...

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