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Spinning in time

A small story of the past and future from a forgotten bit of riverbank in Calais, Maine.

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Alex's earliest memory as a boy in Germany: his great-grandfather asked him to sit on a board and hold it still for cutting. Then his great-grandfather taught him how to sharpen the saw. And it's been like that ever since, Alex figuring out how things work: as a sculptor, designer, teacher. // On the day that I met him at the eastern edge of Maine, I heard him tell friends about fixing his truck, and patching his roof, and hauling out his 25-foot sailboat, which he often sails alone for days at a time on the ceaseless currents where the St. Croix River runs into Passamaquoddy Bay, for the winter. That afternoon, I followed Alex down a steep hillside thick with brown bushes. Alex turned around and descended the rockiest part of the hillside backwards. His balance isn't so good anymore. We crossed some train tracks along the river and wandered toward the ruins of an old power-generating station. Alex was marveling about the differential pressure that the water-driven turbines used to create energy in the 1930s. // Now the hulking iron turbines have rusted in the earth and leaves around the dam building. When Alex stopped to show me one, he said that a lot of the old metal – turbines and shafts and supports – had been removed since his last visit to the ruins three years ago. He suspected that people motivated by higher scrap prices had hauled it off. // I asked Alex what he thought about modern efforts to harness the power of Passamaquoddy Bay, downstream from the abandoned turbines. "There is an enormous energy – 24 feet of tide twice a day," Alex said. He thought that recent efforts were a bit before their time. Speculative, but with the potential to lead to something more. "Theoretically," Alex said, "it should work." #fuelwalk #maine #energy #tidalpower #travel #journalism #maybe

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