I attended a photography conference a few weeks back and one of the classes I attended focused on personal blogging. Day in the life posts that represent you, your life, and what inspires you as an artist. The class spoke truly to me as I’ve realized throughout my journey as a Maine wedding and portraits photographer, that I rarely let my clients and followers in on who I am and what makes me, me. I have been searching for something photographically that I’m passionate about other than my amazing clients since that day.
Today I found that thing.
Although my clients may hear of my home of Sebec Village, Maine throughout their booking process, many people don’t realize what a tiny community it is. Just a few hundred residents year round, a gas station-store-restaurant all rolled into one, and can sometimes be tricky to find on a map. I am often asked why I chose to stay here and told how much “bigger” my career could be elsewhere. I always give some faded off answer on being close to family, simple living, blah blah… But in reality I am so proud of the place that I live and the thought of living anywhere else leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.
The actions I witnessed today were the perfect example of why Sebec Village is so special.
The Village is centered around the river-part of Sebec Lake, “the bridge” by the dam being it’s most well known landmark. The river portion of the lake never freezes completely and the rushing water continues to flow throughout the entire winter regardless of temperature. Today a small deer made the mistake of getting out too far on the thin ice. The confused deer made an attempt to swim across the river to the opposite side and began struggling through the broken up ice and wasn’t able to get back on top of secure ice.
In the meantime, residents of Sebec Village passing by the scene had stopped their everyday lives and began to work together to figure out a way to get the deer out of trouble. They notified the Game Wardens, but Sebec Village being as remote as it is isn’t the easiest place to access immediate help from.
A group of individuals didn’t hesitate and headed down to work on getting the struggling deer out of the freezing water. Meanwhile, other people worked together to gather blankets, ropes, sleds and anything else they could think of to do their part.
The deer was extremely cautious of the people trying to help her, and almost made an attempt to try and head back across the river. Thankfully the broken up ice kept her from traveling too far.
After a few attempts of lassoing the deer with a rope failed, and the deer getting more exhausted by the minute, they opted to take the risk of the ice breaking with a ladder to get closer to the deer.
Everyone was pretty nervous about the thin ice, but the flood of relief when the deer was reached with the rope made it worth it.
Pulled to safety.
Although deer are typically very afraid of humans, the relief from fear and exhaustion was very apparent when the deer was pulled back to shore. There was no denying that.
Another thing that greatly touched me about this whole ordeal is that almost everyone involved I know are avid hunters and Maine outdoorsmen. As a hunter myself, I am often questioned of my morals and my love of animals. Hunters have just as much compassion for animals as anyone else, often more than others I believe. We are emotionally connected to our food, and the animal that provides it. We don’t want to see a creature suffer more than anyone else does. We have a great respect for animals and have the same nurturing response when we see one is in trouble. I think these photos are a proof of that.
Although the deer was still alive and moving, she was extremely exhausted. She didn’t fight the extra help to get her back on stable ground.
There were blankets ready when she got up the hill. People took turns trying to dry her off and warm up her core temperature.
Although I’m sure fear was still a factor in the deer’s mind having this much contact with humans, you could tell there was a lot of comfort there too.
I was so proud in this moment to call Sebec my hometown. I looked around at these everyday people who stopped their lives completely to help this one small creature. They didn’t do it for attention, they didn’t do it because they were asked to, or had to… they just did it. The sense of community that surrounds this town is amazing.
Everyone stuck around taking turns with blankets, rubbing, and hand warmers until the game warden arrived. No one looked for credit. No one complained. Everyone was just happy to do their part.
Whether the deer will make it or not, I’m not sure. I seek personal comfort in knowing she won’t be suffering and scared any longer. I do know one thing though. I know that I found inspiration today without going looking for it. I am thankful for the hearty community of small town Maine that surrounds me each day, and I am once again reminded that there is no place like home.