On June 1, 1968 Tom parked his truck near where the Appalachian Trail crossed the highway because he couldn’t resist the call of the wild.
“Perchance in this wild spot there will be laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.” Thoreau’s Ktaadn
“Problem with me parking here?” he’d ask, should a trooper come by. “I know the shoulder isn’t very wide. You can see that I’ve posted hazard triangles. I’m sure it’s safe.” Sure!
Yielding to a natural and wholesome impulse meant he’d be late. Instead of getting a delivery to Stratton on time, he spent an hour or so following the trail and expected a citation when he got back. The weather seemed perfect. What better way to spend a part of a perfect afternoon? Certainly better than in the cab of a truck. It was never a question of how he guided himself into the woods: it was a question of his judgement and his priorities…in conflict with Tom’s pleasure, as he strolled down the trail.
And the beauty everywhere around him sustained the inspiration he got from his guide, Thoreau, which was someone he rediscovered in the small Kingfield Library. It was a privilege that he couldn’t pass up, a glorious privilege that ultimately cut into his paycheck. Even in Maine he found that he was too tied to a feverish world for his taste. This being so, Tom thought about quitting, and would’ve except for one thing: he had found himself a new girlfriend.
Tom met Sarah at a bake bean casserole supper on a Saturday evening at the fire station in Kingfield. He went to the suppers, not to meet people, but to get a break from his own cooking. Yet he enjoyed socializing. He actually got a kick from it. And still struggling with his sexual identity, he felt relieved when he felt attracted to Sarah.
“Well, what of it? Weren’t there Elaine and Rosa before her? And hadn’t they both claimed Tom was the best lover that they’d ever had?
Again, he knew that he felt drawn to them. He’d always been aware of various members of the opposite sex and had also been aroused.
But beyond an occasional feeling of excitement when he saw someone like Elaine and Rosa (with her long flowing red hair), his loss of interest, he said, bothered him a little. When he first saw Sarah at a bake bean casserole supper he forgot about Sam and later took that as a very good sign: “Sarah, I have no right to think that we have much in common. I think it’s dreadfully hot in here, don’t you? What do you think we ought to do about it?” She suggested that they go outside.
Other than in gas, it didn’t cost him much to entertain Sarah, but the fact that a considerable part of their dating was spent in her old pickup truck said something of his situation, which in many respects was better than hers was. None of this was surprising for rural north central Maine where neighbors generally lived two miles from each other. And his experience and worldliness wasn’t something he lauded over her. Quite the contrary. He accepted her for who she was, a poor woman who grew up on a farm, in a drafty house heated with wood and connected to a barn, a farm with cats, a couple of cows, chickens and geese, and goats, and rabbits, in one of the poorest regions of the state. And he knew that she would never leave the farm because she felt secure there. Therefore, he ended up telling himself that it didn’t matter.
Tom married Sarah Foote on September 22, 1968 in the Kingfield Methodist Church, with his parents in attendance. When they stepped outside, Jim and Jill Hayes found the snapping cold to be a little hard on them, though they raved about the foliage. They hadn’t expected their son to marry Sarah so quickly. It came as a surprise, the engagement and the wedding. The announcement in the paper brought out a huge crowd for Kingfield. Unfortunately Tom didn’t have the money to take his bride on much of a honeymoon.