It was a painful time for me. My mother had just passed away, one of my businesses was rapidly heading south, and I was going through a painful divorce (is there any other kind?).
Those life circumstances forced me to spend time on the road, caring for a dying mother, and in the office, rescuing my publishing business. It also gave me lots of time alone to think.
Even thinking was difficult, but eventually I did what writers do; I turned to my writing and a story line began to crystallize from the fog. I thought a lot about what family means, about loss, about what might have been. And slowly, the threads of Sargent Mountain began to weave themselves into a tapestry that made sense.
Readers often wonder how much of a story is autobiographical. I can say that while much of Sargent Mountain is based on my own experiences, the storyline itself is fabricated. Yes, I lived in Maine for ten years and know Acadia National Park well, since some of my ecology doctoral research was done there. I also lived on a farm in Maryland, where much of the story takes place. I also raised two biological children and two stepchildren and as families we spent much time in Maine.
But the story I felt compelled to tell in Sargent Mountain was about family, loss, and the many shades of love. And so the story I wove is fundamentally different from the fabric of my life.
People often ask wether I realize that Sargent is misspelled. It’s not. Sargent Mountain is the name of the second tallest peak in Acadia National Park and it is named after the Sargent family.
Sargent Mountain is the second highest peak in Acadia National Park at 1,373 feet. Cadillac Mountain is the highest at 1,530 feet. Cadillac is the only mountain in Acadia that has a road going to the summit.
The swimming scene that I describe in Sargent Mountain, as Rose and Ellen rest from their hike down the mountain, takes place in Sargent Pond, nestled among pine trees about 300 feet lower than the peak. That pond is considered the oldest pond in all of Maine, at 17,000 years.
If you do visit Sargent Pond, look around the shoreline and you’ll find the rare and lovely Sundew, an insect-eating plant. Unlike the Venus Flytrap, the tiny sundew has a sticky substance on the flower that attracts insects, which then stick to it and are slowly dissolved.
Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi (1916). It is located on Mt. Desert Island (second largest island on the east coast).
Acadia NP was cobbled together from land purchased for the public good by the Rockefellers,and other wealthy families. It now covers about 47,000 acres. More than 2 million people visit each year, but only a small percentage hike the mountain trails described in Sargent Mountain.