Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett here. Today, Patriots’ Day (as opposed to Patriot’s Day) is a state holiday here in Maine. You may remember being forced to memorize “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in school, the one that begins, “On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:/Hardly a man is now alive/Who remembers that famous day and year.” For those who don’t remember, April 18, 1775 directly preceded the skirmishes between patriots and English soldiers in Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy (now Arlington), Massachusetts—the battles that marked the start of the Revolutionary War. In 1975, it was the date we first saw the house we still live in, but I digress.
Why do we celebrate in Maine? Because Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820. The holiday became official here in 1907. Since 1969, it has been observed on the third Monday in April, which also marks the start of school vacation week. Until last year, it was also celebrated by a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington, the running of the Boston Marathon, and a late-morning Red Sox game in Massachusetts and by (on the third Saturday of the month) the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Maine. This year the reenactment is virtual and the marathon won’t be run until October 11, but the fifty-fourth running of the canoe race, with some precautions, went on as scheduled.
I love this race! No, I’ve never participated. Nor have I stood on the banks of Kenduskeag Stream or the Penobscot River to watch the paddlers. I’m strictly an armchair spectator, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of an annual event for me. This year, as expected, was different. The number of entrants was limited. There were no crowds allowed to watch in person. Masks were required. Even television coverage, which is usually live, was changed to livestreaming on Facebook and an hour-long special scheduled for ten in the morning on April 24 on WABI (Channel 5), the local Bangor station. Then it turned up on the News Center Maine (Channels 2 and 6) website, streaming live, which I could watch on my pc or my iPad with Shadow. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly riveting entertainment this time around. The most excitement came when canoes got stuck on rocks (the water was a record low) and paddlers simply stepped out up to their ankles and pushed them off. There was no commentary, just the sound of rushing water and the occasional distant mumble of people talking or shouting. And the single camera had only one angle, although they could zoom in on occasions.
On the bright side, at least it took place this year.
My protagonist in the Deadly Edits series, Mikki Lincoln, now living in New York State but formerly a fifty-year resident of rural Maine, is also an ardent fan of this race. In 2019, the year in which A Fatal Fiction is set (although that’s never stated outright) she was able to watch the race live on the WABI website.
If you’d like to know more, there are lots of pictures and videos of this year’s and past years’ races, along with general information on the race itself, at the following links:
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-three books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books and three works of nonfiction. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her next publication (as Kaitlyn) is the fourth book in the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series (Murder, She Edited), in stores in August 2021. As Kathy, her most recent novel is a standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things. She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen, now available in e-book format.