In my spare time, which seems to be shrinking every year for unknown reasons, I take walking excursions in the vicinity of my house in Back Troy. “Back Troy” is an expression so little-used it might be that only my wife Bonnie and I know what we mean by it, I’m not sure. To us it’s the roughly trapezoidal section of Troy south of Route 9, north of Thorndike, west of Dixmont and east of Unity. Or anyway, east of that side of the bog, or roughly the Bagley Hill Road. You can’t usually get directly to Unity from Back Troy in a conventional vehicle. Our son Jack found this out the hard way a couple of springs ago when he tried to take the station wagon on a shortcut along the Whitaker Road, which turns into something called the Back Troy “Road” purporting on maps to be an avenue to Unity. Which it ain’t, to use a direct local phrase, unless you’re in a military vehicle or an ATV. The station wagon convalesced for a week or so at TA’s garage in Unity, and was never the same again.
Anyway, to get to the house in Back Troy you descend the driveway southerly from the roaring 60-mile-an-hour pickup-truck, SUV, minivan and trailer-truck roller-coaster known as Route 9, or Route 202, or Bangor Road, down through maples and ancient apple trees, across the brook, through pines, ashes, cedars and beeches that shield a glacier from the sun until well into April or sometimes May every year, then back up again into a clearing at the other end. There, free of the road, is the log house with the library Shed, more spiders and blue jays than you can count, and an edge of Maine woods that roll up and down hills into the beyond. South toward Thorndike, that is. West to Unity, east to Dixmont.
We moved into the log house in Back Troy in 1994. So technically we are from away, meaning we lived in Unity before that. (I know of a guy who was born in Waterville, grew up in Unity, then moved to Burnham where years later he stood up to speak in a town meeting only to be told by one of Burnham’s ur-denizens that being from away he should not be advising them what to do.) Anyway, at the time we moved to Troy I was working part-time in Bill and Sandy Olson’s ham radio parts factory away over on the northern reaches of the Barker Road, so I no longer had to cross any time zones to get to work.
We didn’t call it Back Troy then. Bonnie in her youth lived for a short time in a house on the Troy Center Road, but not long enough to make a dent in her from-awayness. So we did not exactly know, for example, that in March the Rogers Road turns into the eastern equivalent of the Baja. Or that Plymouth was nearer than fifty miles to Troy. Or that people used the Troy Union Church. Or who B.B. Cook was. Or that vehicle repair was available in the woods off the North Dixmont Road. Or that there is a thick-settled community of neighbors hidden between the northern reach of the Ward Hill Road and Route 220 (not to be confused with Route 202, so let’s call Route 202 Route 9.) Only recently have the names “Ward Hill Road” and “Bagley Hill Road” settled into an automatically correct state in my mind.
So I wander around in the woods (except in November), and being useless with a chain saw and unable to keep a plow vehicle operational, I spend my time looking at trees, bugs, chipmunks, blue jays, running water and a patch of sky up through the trees in my clearing, as well as chasing off marauding squirrels and raccoons. Skunks we leave alone. Some of what I see, I write down for posterity – though what posterity will care, I really have no idea and dwindling hope. But some of the craziness from those excursions leaks out into the world, and from time to time a bit more of hyper-local interest, maybe, will turn up here on our new town website.