The Fog Lifts | People & Places | Smithsonian

The Fog Lifts

As it always does, given enough time

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One of the things that has long drawn Jonathan Kandell to Maine in general and to the area known as Acadia in particular, he says, is the ebb and flow of the waters. "At low tide, looking down at this incredible Atlantic Ocean from many vantage points in Acadia National Park, you can see people wading. Then within hours it becomes wild, crashing waves on that pink-granite coast. And the way the temperatures change and the fog comes in and out! One minute it's absolutely clear and the next you get this pea soup of a fog; you wonder if it's ever going to lift. But it always does."

For Kandell, who reported our cover story ("Acadia Country," p. 46), the highlight was taking a ferry to the village of Frenchboro on tiny Long Island. There he was shown around by Dean Lunt, a journalist turned book publisher who grew up on the island and, at one time, was the only student in its school. (Now there are 14 pupils.)

"Crossing from Mount Desert Island to Frenchboro I was the only passenger on the ferry. I was surrounded by this incredibly thick fog, and all I could hear was the sound of water lapping against the hull," says Kandell. "It was almost like a ghost ship, and I started thinking about ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.' Then, just as we were getting to Frenchboro, the fog lifted and there was Dean Lunt waiting to greet me." Kandell says that many of Frenchboro's roughly 70 inhabitants are descended from just a few families, especially the Lunts, who settled here more than 180 years ago first as hard-scrabble farmers and then as fishermen. "I was just fascinated because it was an aspect of Maine that I did not know about, in some ways a throwback to a bygone era. It was quite an experience."

By the time Steve Kemper got to Kenya to write about hyenas for us ("Who's Laughing Now?" p. 76), he knew that the popular image of the animals as nasty scavengers was distorted and incomplete. Even so, he was surprised, he says, to discover "how peaceful and domestic it can be around the den and how playful the cubs are. They're pack animals with a hierarchy, and they have all the different dynamics that you would expect in a highly intelligent social creature: affection, rivalry, violence, playfulness and tranquillity. It's just a whole lot more complex than what is generally understood about hyenas."

About Carey Winfrey
Carey Winfrey

Carey Winfrey was Smithsonian magazine's editor in chief for ten years, from 2001 to 2011.

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