Maine State Trooper's book filled with humor and intrigue

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Maine State Troopers lead interesting lives filled with humor, intrigue, sadness, and, yes, foolishness. The foolish part comes from the people they encounter.

Retired trooper Mark Nickerson has the pedigree to write a book about his trooper career, and he sure enough has the stories. His Dad, Millard Nickerson, had a long and distinguished career in the State Police. Mark dedicated the book to his Dad, whose life he “aspired to have.”

Mark also has a one-man cheering squad, retired game warden and now-very-successful author John Ford – who encouraged (ok, badgered) Mark into writing a column called “Real Life Stories” in local newspapers. And those stories are what you get in his new book, Blue Lights in the Night, published by North Country Press.

Ice angler gets big surprise when he catches an otter

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                Bruce Hodgdon of Dennysville is an avid and experienced hunter, trapper, and angler. He’s my cousin Sandra’s son, and this past winter he wrote my Dad with the following fascinating story. Here it is, in Bruce’s own words.

                “I was ice fishing on Long Lake in St. Agathe, no action all morning, bitter cold, and was cooking my lunch on the fire when a flag went up. I decided to let it stay up because I was cold and hungry and didn’t want my cheeseburger to go cold.

                “After finishing the burger I went to tend the flag. I was shocked to find all the line out, about 175 to 200 feet. The tip-up bait had been set about 3 feet under the ice. I was excited!

Solutions needed for conflicts and competition for recreational use of private and public lands

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 In 2007, I created a paper titled, “A Solution to Conflicts and Competition for Recreational Access and Use of Private and Public Lands.”  It got a bit of press, but little attention otherwise.

In the opening paragraph, I reported, “We must understand what motivates each of us and drives the conflicts we’re suffering over our outdoor recreational pursuits, if we are going to figure out how to resolve those conflicts.” I still think this is critically important. And we are a long way from achieving it.

The 2007 paper was basically a list of “understandings” and “solutions.” If we could all share the common “understandings”, then the “solutions” might resolve a whole lot of problems and allow us to protect and enhance our outdoor heritage for future generations, while reducing the constant challenges and conflicts that threaten that heritage.

Marie's Whole Foods focuses on Maine-made healthy products and scrumptious food

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Marie’s Whole Foods in Readfield is a community gathering place focused on Maine-made healthy products and scrumptious from-scratch food.


                Cricket Blouin had me on the first bite of her very popular chocolate almond scone. I’d just stopped by Marie’s Whole Foods to autograph my books that Cricket is selling in her small store next to the Readfield Post Office, grabbed a coffee and scone to go, and headed down the road. The scone was soooo delicious, it guaranteed a quick return for lunch or dinner.

Dad breaks out of Veteran’s Hospice Unit to catch brook trout

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It’s no accident that much of my career was spent as an advocate for Maine sportsman, or that I am now writing outdoor news and cohosting a TV show focused on conservation and environmental issues. My Dad, Ezra Smith of Winthrop, set me on this course from birth.

In 2013 Dad and I hunted together for the 53rd year, a wonderful privilege for me. I guess we must have fished together for 60 years.

But Dad is now in the Hospice Unit at the Togus V.A., with serious health problems. He is actually thriving there, thanks to the wonderful professional staff and amazing volunteers. We’ve set up a corner of his room with his painting supplies, and he’s doing a lot of painting. His room is stuffed with his paintings and carvings, and last week he had me bring in his keyboard so he could play some music.

New products from blankets to insecticides provide tick protection

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 Sitting at my desk this morning, beginning to write this column about products that protect us from deer ticks, I felt something on my leg under my pajamas. Pulling up the right leg of the pajamas, sure enough, there was a deer tick, making his way up my leg!

Did it know I was writing about it? I carefully picked it off my leg, transported it outside, and crushed it between two rocks.

Tick removal is almost an everyday task these days. So I’ve been collecting products that promise some relief and protection from ticks.


Food and fun featured at El El Frijoles

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Blue Hill
Deer Isle
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 The Mexican food is creative and flavorful and El El Frijoles is also a whole lot of fun!


With a weekend planned in Deer Isle, we were searching for a Friday night dinner in that area when I discovered El El Frijoles in Jillian and Malcolm Bedell’s Eating in Maine book. The Bedell’s were effusive in their praise. Jillian reported, “The crab quesadilla, a menu item I would not ordinarily think to order, was incredible, and it got better with every bite.” Yup. I wanted to eat there!

And boy, was that a good choice. In an old barn, Michele Levesque and Michael Rossney have created a popular and fun place to eat their impressive array of Mexican cuisine. Their story is a good one too. Michael’s family has had a house in the area since 1905 and he spent summers here.

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