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Where Cool Waters Flow: Four Seasons with a Master Maine Guide Paperback – September 1, 2009
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Maine books come and go, of course. Hundreds of titles by hundreds of authors vow to take readers places they've never gone and to explore the rich traditions we locals sometimes take for granted.
Some succeed. Some fall short of expectations. Others fall in the middle of that continuum. And then there's Where Cool Waters Flow.
Spencer's book, quite simply, is the rare local volume that I can honestly recommend with the highest praise a fellow writer can muster: I wish I'd written it. But I couldn't have. Spencer's prose is clean, quick and witty. He successfully transports readers from their living room easy chairs to the wilds of Grand Lake Stream, and does so without bombarding them with strings of adjectives designed to paint the picture he sees in his mind.
Instead, like the songwriter he is, he picks his words judiciously, commits to them and makes them do his bidding.
And the result is a stunning portrait of a truly special place, illuminated by the people who live for their yearly visits to those remote Maine woods.
You may find a better Maine book than Where Cool Waters Flow. You may find a better outdoor book.
Where Cool Waters Flow is not a fishing book. It's not a hunting or trapping book. It's not even a historical account of the village of Grand Lake Stream.
It is, somehow, all of those things at once -- and none of them at all.
The book traces a guide's life over the four seasons of life in a remote Maine town, and touches on many of the sporting activities that clients are able to sample. And it's the tales about those clients that help the book shine.
If you've never visited Grand Lake Stream, reading this book will likely compel you to do so.
And if you have spent some time fly-fishing the stream, trolling West Grand or casting for bass on one of the other lakes in the area, reading this book will help you appreciate this special place even more.
And that, I figure, is about as good as it gets. --John Holyoke, Bangor (ME) Daily News
To say that Randy Spencer has written a nice book about Maine is not to damn him with faint praise. Nice is not a backhanded term for blandness, but an umbrella that covers such vastly underrated virtues as good manners, good humor, and good company. Spencer provides all three in Where Cool Waters Flow as well as a portrait of one of Maine's most beautiful and beguiling villages: Grand Lake Stream. --Roberta Scruggs, Down East Magazine
[Randy Spencer] is a talented wordsmith ... Here he tells of the sporting history of the Grand Lake Stream area from the 1800s, the famous "Grand Laker" canoes, and the influence of Fly Rod Crosby, the first woman to become a licensed guide in 1897. Best, however, are his wonderful stories of people. --Kennebec (ME) Journal
About the Author
Randy Spencer is a Master Maine Guide, which means he is qualified and certified by the state of Maine to guide clients on fishing, hunting, or recreational adventures, although Randy's specialty is fishing. His guiding business is based in the remote eastern Maine town of Grand Lake Stream, home to some of most beautiful scenery and some of the best fishing in the nation. In addition to guiding, Spencer is a talented singer/songwriter who has released five CDs. In fact, he regularly writes a column for the Northwoods Sporting Journal that is titled
The Singing Maine Guide.
He is also a freelance writer for other outdoor publications. In 2008, Yankee Magazine named him one of the
25 People You Need to Meet Most This Summer
and Portland Magazine named him one of the
10 Most Intriguing People in Maine.
Top customer reviews
I would have liked more of the history of GLS, the place my father took us when we were kids a half century ago. But it is Mr. Spencer's life there that provides the connection between then and now, and I warmed to this wonderful collection of tales and characters which bridges the past to the present. My favorite character was Drummond Humchuck, who my mother says is fictitious. I'm having none of it. A wily & dryly witty octogenarian who has lived his life without civilization, and quite happily, thank you.
Mr. Spencer, a master guide, takes the reader through 4 seasons in and around the town of Grand Lake Stream, a place you hope lots of people will discover, and a place you hope lots of people won't discover. I guess what I'd like is for lots of people to love it as I did when I was a child, and as Mr. Spencer so clearly does now. Reading his book is the next best thing to visiting this wonderful part of the world. I recommend you do both.
Winter is a time for repairs or preventive maintenance on their specially built square stern canoes, called Grand Lakers. Most people need a second job to make it through the long winter. The author is a singer/songwriter who released several CDs. Mud season happens somewhere between winter and spring, when it seems as if the entire world has turned to mud. It is also a time to curse the roads and trails, made by the timber companies, which are frequently little more than collections of ruts and potholes.
Spring means the return of guiding clients, called "sports." Many sports have become friends, returning year after year. It's an important psychic boost to the year-round residents (and the money doesn't hurt). April 1 means the opening of fly fishing season. It's totally unimportant if there is still ice on the rivers, or if there are giant snowbanks leading right down to the water; serious fly fishermen will be there.
In summer, guides make use of every square inch of storage space in their canoes as they take sports out for an all-day fishing trip. The guide knows where trout or salmon are likely to hang out; it's not enough to simply cast and expect the fish to bite. There are a number of occurrences where sports experience emotional decompression or confess things to their guide while in the canoe. To be the only human beings on a lake with no other signs of human habitation, and to watch an eagle snatch a fish out of the lake, or to watch a moose or black bear rumble past, the term "religious experience" comes to mind.
In the autumn, fishing season gives way to hunting season. Some people have to use the newest "guaranteed" rifle or hunting gadget, while others stick with family heirlooms that have worked in the past. Autumn is also the time for house repairs, and wood chopping, that weren't taken care of during the summer.
Along with being a Maine Guide, and a musician, Spencer is also an excellent storyteller. He does a fine job of putting the reader in the canoe, or up a tree waiting for a large animal to walk by. For armchair sportsmen, and serious sportsmen, this is very highly recommended.