Youth Writing Winners 2018

Massachusetts Senior Category (grade 9-12)

First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost
11th grade, Greenfield, MA
 
The rain so gently fills the river high,
The growing grasses flourish on the banks
Where foliage and fauna calmly lie
    And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,
Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,
The swimming trout between the shores abide
Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,
And in this settlement my life began;
And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,
The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

Upon its humble shores, I often cast
My fishing rod into its shallow pools
In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed
The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,
Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;
It does not flow into a sunless sea,
But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

Its majesty transcends the minds of those
Who carelessly discard their filthy waste
Into its rapids; oft without repose,
A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

Lamentably, the town upon its shores
Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.
No matter whom that noble stream implores,
My town will simply not accept its blame.

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man
Who serves the river as his wizened king;
Attentively, he executes his Plan
Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.
It pleases me to see the river fat
With energy and ever-burning light.
As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,
Beside the river commonly I write.

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars
Created by the hateful whip of Man,
And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,
The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,
You can uphold the soil’s holy law
And save my visage for the young to see,
So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

““I saw the force that moves the water so,
I saw the path oft taken by the shad, 
I felt the power of the river glow
Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

A river fine and fair must always move,
Until it meets the sea and thus its end,
But rivers never die, and this shall prove 
The River Green to be a lasting friend.

The glory of this land is plain to see
When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;
And yet, the greatest joy is then to be
The staring scintillating midnight sky.

The sky is fortunate to always look
Upon the river with his endless eyes.
This beauty, never captured in a book,
Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

I thank the river for its boundless grace,
The likes of which eludes the common man;
I kneel in awe before its noble face,
The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began.

First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost

11th grade, Greenfield, MA


First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost
11th grade, Greenfield, MA
 
The rain so gently fills the river high,
The growing grasses flourish on the banks
Where foliage and fauna calmly lie
    And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,
Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,
The swimming trout between the shores abide
Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,
And in this settlement my life began;
And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,
The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

Upon its humble shores, I often cast
My fishing rod into its shallow pools
In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed
The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,
Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;
It does not flow into a sunless sea,
But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

Its majesty transcends the minds of those
Who carelessly discard their filthy waste
Into its rapids; oft without repose,
A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

Lamentably, the town upon its shores
Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.
No matter whom that noble stream implores,
My town will simply not accept its blame.

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man
Who serves the river as his wizened king;
Attentively, he executes his Plan
Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.
It pleases me to see the river fat
With energy and ever-burning light.
As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,
Beside the river commonly I write.

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars
Created by the hateful whip of Man,
And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,
The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,
You can uphold the soil’s holy law
And save my visage for the young to see,
So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

““I saw the force that moves the water so,
I saw the path oft taken by the shad, 
I felt the power of the river glow
Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

A river fine and fair must always move,
Until it meets the sea and thus its end,
But rivers never die, and this shall prove 
The River Green to be a lasting friend.

The glory of this land is plain to see
When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;
And yet, the greatest joy is then to be
The staring scintillating midnight sky.

The sky is fortunate to always look
Upon the river with his endless eyes.
This beauty, never captured in a book,
Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

I thank the river for its boundless grace,
The likes of which eludes the common man;
I kneel in awe before its noble face,
The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began. -Nathan T. Provost

Author’s Notes on the Poem
(Line 1, “Green River.) The Green River is a tributary to the Deerfield River, which in turn flows into the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The river ends in Greenfield, Massachusetts, an area that earned its name from the river.
(Lines 19-20, “River Alph … sunless sea.”) This is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan,” a piece describing his dream of imperial China. In the poem, Coleridge discusses how Alph, “the sacred river,” flows through “measureless” twists and turns into a “sunless sea.”
(Lines 35-36, “Thomas Gray … sat.”) Thomas Gray was an English Enlightenment-era poet famous for writing the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” a piece he supposedly wrote in a pastoral graveyard in England.
(Lines 46, “shad.”) A shad is a species of anadromous fish known to pass by a region near Greenfield. The river involved in this process receives water from the Green River.

First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost
11th grade, Greenfield, MA
 
The rain so gently fills the river high,
The growing grasses flourish on the banks
Where foliage and fauna calmly lie
    And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,
Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,
The swimming trout between the shores abide
Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,
And in this settlement my life began;
And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,
The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

Upon its humble shores, I often cast
My fishing rod into its shallow pools
In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed
The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,
Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;
It does not flow into a sunless sea,
But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

Its majesty transcends the minds of those
Who carelessly discard their filthy waste
Into its rapids; oft without repose,
A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

Lamentably, the town upon its shores
Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.
No matter whom that noble stream implores,
My town will simply not accept its blame.

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man
Who serves the river as his wizened king;
Attentively, he executes his Plan
Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.
It pleases me to see the river fat
With energy and ever-burning light.
As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,
Beside the river commonly I write.

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars
Created by the hateful whip of Man,
And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,
The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,
You can uphold the soil’s holy law
And save my visage for the young to see,
So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

““I saw the force that moves the water so,
I saw the path oft taken by the shad, 
I felt the power of the river glow
Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

A river fine and fair must always move,
Until it meets the sea and thus its end,
But rivers never die, and this shall prove 
The River Green to be a lasting friend.

The glory of this land is plain to see
When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;
And yet, the greatest joy is then to be
The staring scintillating midnight sky.

The sky is fortunate to always look
Upon the river with his endless eyes.
This beauty, never captured in a book,
Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

I thank the river for its boundless grace,
The likes of which eludes the common man;
I kneel in awe before its noble face,
The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began.

First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost
11th grade, Greenfield, MA
 
The rain so gently fills the river high,
The growing grasses flourish on the banks
Where foliage and fauna calmly lie
    And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,
Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,
The swimming trout between the shores abide
Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,
And in this settlement my life began;
And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,
The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

Upon its humble shores, I often cast
My fishing rod into its shallow pools
In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed
The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,
Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;
It does not flow into a sunless sea,
But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

Its majesty transcends the minds of those
Who carelessly discard their filthy waste
Into its rapids; oft without repose,
A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

Lamentably, the town upon its shores
Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.
No matter whom that noble stream implores,
My town will simply not accept its blame.

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man
Who serves the river as his wizened king;
Attentively, he executes his Plan
Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.
It pleases me to see the river fat
With energy and ever-burning light.
As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,
Beside the river commonly I write.

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars
Created by the hateful whip of Man,
And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,
The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,
You can uphold the soil’s holy law
And save my visage for the young to see,
So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

““I saw the force that moves the water so,
I saw the path oft taken by the shad, 
I felt the power of the river glow
Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

A river fine and fair must always move,
Until it meets the sea and thus its end,
But rivers never die, and this shall prove 
The River Green to be a lasting friend.

The glory of this land is plain to see
When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;
And yet, the greatest joy is then to be
The staring scintillating midnight sky.

The sky is fortunate to always look
Upon the river with his endless eyes.
This beauty, never captured in a book,
Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

I thank the river for its boundless grace,
The likes of which eludes the common man;
I kneel in awe before its noble face,
The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began.First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost11th grade, Greenfield, MA

The rain so gently fills the river high,

            The growing grasses flourish on the banks

Where foliage and fauna calmly lie

           And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

 

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,

Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,

The swimming trout between the shores abide

            Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

 

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,

            And in this settlement my life began;

And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,

The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

 

Upon its humble shores, I often cast

            My fishing rod into its shallow pools

In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed

            The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

 

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,

            Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;

It does not flow into a sunless sea,

            But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

 

Its majesty transcends the minds of those

            Who carelessly discard their filthy waste

Into its rapids; oft without repose,

            A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

 

Lamentably, the town upon its shores

            Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.

No matter whom that noble stream implores,

            My town will simply not accept its blame.

 

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man

            Who serves the river as his wizened king;

Attentively, he executes his Plan

            Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.

It pleases me to see the river fat

            With energy and ever-burning light.

As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,

            Beside the river commonly I write.

 

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars

            Created by the hateful whip of Man,

And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,

            The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

 

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,

You can uphold the soil’s holy law

And save my visage for the young to see,

So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

 

““I saw the force that moves the water so,

I saw the path oft taken by the shad,

I felt the power of the river glow

Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

 

A river fine and fair must always move,

            Until it meets the sea and thus its end,

But rivers never die, and this shall prove

            The River Green to be a lasting friend.

 

The glory of this land is plain to see

            When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;

And yet, the greatest joy is then to be

            The staring scintillating midnight sky.

 

The sky is fortunate to always look

            Upon the river with his endless eyes.

This beauty, never captured in a book,

            Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

 

I thank the river for its boundless grace,

            The likes of which eludes the common man;

I kneel in awe before its noble face,

            The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began.                          

 

Author’s Notes on the Poem

(Line 1, “Green River.) The Green River is a tributary to the Deerfield River, which in turn flows into the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The river ends in Greenfield, Massachusetts, an area that earned its name from the river.

(Lines 19-20, “River Alph … sunless sea.”) This is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan,” a piece describing his dream of imperial China. In the poem, Coleridge discusses how Alph, “the sacred river,” flows through “measureless” twists and turns into a “sunless sea.”

(Lines 35-36, “Thomas Gray … sat.”) Thomas Gray was an English Enlightenment-era poet famous for writing the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” a piece he supposedly wrote in a pastoral graveyard in England.

(Lines 46, “shad.”) A shad is a species of anadromous fish known to pass by a region near Greenfield. The river involved in this process receives water from the Green River.

 

Second Place " Rackosaurus" by William Maines

9th grade, Gray, ME

 

           “411 yards” Mike whispered to me as he peered through the rangefinder. “Wow...we’re gonna have to get closer” I whispered. As I gazed across the steep-sided ravine, I could just make out the golden-brown speck nestled on the opposite slope. I grabbed my binoculars and peered across the steep-sided ravine. The massive-bodied bull elk lay bedded at the brushy edge of a stand of tall ridge pole spruce. His wide, heavy rack glinted in the morning rays as he lifted his head and let out a bellowing bugle. I glanced at Mike, who was thinking the same thing as me. We had to move before the bull started out on his morning jaunt. After grabbing our gear and Savage rifles, Mike and I headed down the precariously steep slope. As we skirted large tangles of blowdowns and rocky ledges, we kept an eye on the bull who was getting ready to move. Mike and I had to skirt a thick tangle of raspberry bushes before reaching the bottom of the ravine where a clear, fast-running brook tumbled through a tall forest of huge, old hemlocks.

We sat down near the brook to discuss the stalk ahead. Within a minute, we had a plan laid out and were ready. We decided that we would advance up the hillside, side-by-side, and the first person to spot the bull and get a good shot would take it. We exchanged good luck and trod silently up the hillside. The first few minutes went smoothly and quietly. The sun now climbed higher over the opposite ridgeline from us. As we ascended from the hemlocks, the trees thinned and we entered the rocky, steep ridge-pole spruce forests. Mike and I slowed to a creep as we neared the spot where the bull should lay. We had our rifles up and took a step every minute, scanning every inch of the brown and green foliage. Suddenly, an ear-splitting, bellowing bugle erupted through the forest, its echo booming boundlessly over the mountains for many seconds. We advanced so slowly that I felt we might be moving backwards, before we heard a loud crash and looked up to see the massive bull rise from his bed 20 yards above us on an open knoll. I swung my .30-06 as the bull took a swaggering step and tore through a thick mat of brush with his inconceivably large rack. When the bull stepped into the open I put the bead of my .30-06 on his massive shoulder and fired. The bull tumbled forward and let out a low bellow as Mike let one fly from his rifle.

As we climbed the last rise, the bull seemed to grow as we approached him. “It’s a rackosaurus!” Mike exclaimed excitedly, and that was the nickname that stuck. As we examined the bull, we thanked the Lord for the amazing animal and soon set to field dressing. “The trick will be getting ‘im out,” Mike said. Luckily we had all day.

 

Third Place "Into the Woods" by Albert Zhang

12th grade, Cambridge, MA

 

The narrow trail, like

a slithering snake,

weaves up to the

bridge, a steel rainbow.

The gray rocks

crunch beneath my feet,

as I step steadily,

foot at a time,

 

across the cranky

metal bridge, which towers over

Nancy creek,

its muddy waters flowing

below me.

 

I stroll past endless

rows of trees,

autumn leaves raining on me,

eventually into

an open field.

 

Birds tweedling,

the aroma of fresh pine straw,

like my backyard during fall.

Lumps of orange leaves pile on green grass, their color fading by the second.

I sit on plush pinestraw under            ·

red maple leaves, inhaling the scent.

 

I can shout

obstreperous obscenities, wlµsper indulging secrets

to the tall trees, my audience.

Nobody can stop me as I craft

my course. Like running

 

with the cross country team along The Common,

teammates on my side, sweat dripping

splat! splat!

onto soft brown dirt.

But this time

by myself


Honorable Mention "Free Write" by Ivory Bailey. 

9th grade, North Woodstock, NH

 

Looking up from the path in the woods, in the sweater weather, the midday sun shining through the freshly bloomed leaves, the frigid air cooling my lungs with every breath. The sun heating my arms and legs. I walk through the trees looking up at the leaves and down at the flowers. I walk until I get to the outdoor classroom, and I wait. Angel, my best friend, shows up walking along the path outlined with different sized rocks.

“Hi” I said with excitement.

“Hey, best friend” she says happily.

We lay down on the damp, cool, benches and start talking about our day and telling jokes. We laugh so hard it hurts, we sit up and decide we’re hungry. We walk to Purple Tomato and buy some burritos and a couple of drinks. We stomp through the fallen leaves to the school's playground and start talking about when we get older.

“You know what we should do” I say, taking a bite or my burrito, my mouth filling with warm rice cheese and beans. This is my heaven, walking on a warm fall day, hanging out with friends and eating food, like we have all the time in the world.

“What?” she says.

“We should start our own business, we could sing and hire bands and have a karaoke night and you could paint and we could hang them on the wall” I say excitedly.   

“Ya! And we could just have a small building somewhere and we could have a mini stage!” she adds. We eat some more.

“And during the day we could have, like, a cafe and when we’re old enough, at night we could have a pub.” I say thinking out loud

After we finished our food we start walking again, it's darker now, the sky a shade of pink turning purple. We just walk and think. There's a calmness to walking, no awkwardness, all of your problems blown away with the wind, it's easier to think, it all becomes clearer. Life suddenly becomes simple, as you walk with the falling leaves aimlessly, and the sweater keeping you warm in the breeze. There aren't any loud screams or bangs to pull you out of your thoughts. It's just you. When I walk I think about everything, friends, family, life, time, everything. I love it because I feel a maturity after.

Angel and I walk back to her house, the sky is dark grey and the street lights are on. We take the path through the woods and walk the light the streetlamp produces, as we watch the light fade off we reach the desolate road to Angels house. It starts to rain, hard, it doesn't matter though, we just walk. The cool raindrops making our clothes and hair wet, we reach her house. I grab my bags and walk to the playhouse, I can't wait to do it all again.

  

Honorable Mention "The Beauty of the Woods" by Jacob Morris

9th grade, North Woodstock, NH

 

When I am out in the woods I feel like I'm on top of the world with the peace, silence, and the sound of the song birds singing. I love the woods and the outdoors. I love to hunt, fish, ice fish, ski, fly fish, and, basically, everything outdoors is good for me. During this past White Tailed Deer hunting season, I went out at every opportunity and even played “hooky” from school to get chances to shoot a doe or a buck. My father and I love hunting, and we go at every chance and we are trying to get my other brothers into hunting because we love this sport so much. One week before rifle season, during the muzzle-loader season, my father shot a 205 pound 8 point White tailed deer. On the first day of the rifle hunting season we went out and drove to our hunting spot down in Lyme, NH. Once we get there we got there we walked down the stone wall to the crunching of the leaves to a spot where my father has shot many deer over the past many years. The deer will move from everywhere because they want to go hide in the swamp out in front of where I was sitting. I heard the turkeys clucking out behind me and they sounded so majestic. Being an outdoorsman, I find great joy in things such as birds calling, to the beauty of the deer walking through the woods, to the mamma bear playing with her cubs out in the field taking in the beautiful sun.

So the famous crunch, crunch, crunch came marching through the woods. My first thought was that the turkeys were coming through the woods towards me. I turned around expecting to see the turkeys, but my eyes meet with a beautiful deer. Turn my gun towards it and put the cross hairs right on the doe right behind her shoulder. Gun fires with a “bang” and she just drops with a quick and painless death, which I thought was the best way. I go down to her, and I thank her very much for the meat that she has provided for my family. Then I get to work and start to gut it out by myself. Once I finished gutting her, I got my rope and started to drag her out through the woods, we walked through in the darkness earlier that morning. We got her out to the truck and checked her in at a deer weigh station. She weighed 110 pounds and we probably got 50 pounds of meat. We drove her up to my grandfather's house so we could butcher her to use for our meat. We take everything we can get off of the deer. We use everything because we feel thankful for the meat she provided us. I love the outdoors and appreciate everything the woods have to offer. As an outdoors man, I love nature and all the beauties she holds.

  

Honorable Mention "Night" by Bridget Brady

12th grade, Southborough MA

 

Sitting for only thirty minutes attempting to understand the life of the moonlit world, a wave of serenity and peace rushes over me: a beautiful surrender towards the hope of a greater purpose. Silhouettes of the bare trees stand still against the luminous sky, awaiting instruction from the great overseer. I try to mimic. I try to grasp the bigger web of life for which my existence intimately fits into. The night is not dark nor silent. We just have to take the time to look up and listen.

 

The night is not dark. We just don’t give ourselves enough time for our eyes to adjust to the new lighting. To experience this world, it takes patience, a skill we lack more and more of as the years go on. We live in a world of instant gratification. When everything we need is at our fingertips, we fail to take the time to look for things that perhaps are more of an investment. Ironically, the things that are most worth our time are often the things that take the most of it. As my eyes adjust to my surroundings, I experience a world colored by new hues in the framework of the world-by-day. The sky glows down in a blue-gray haze. The trees are black and the grass is purple. Life is as it would be living in an impressionist painting.

 

Night is also not silent. I open my ears to the music that is playing before me. Cicadas sing to my far left, humming in the wetlands. In the bushes closer to me is another chirping bug. His voice intermittently adding to the choir. The soft rustle of trees as the breeze caresses their leaves act as another layer to the music. The harder scraping of the fallen leaves on the pavement, shuffling along with the wind’s same breath, became the percussion of the song. For many of the creatures, I understand this performance was to be one of the last before the coming frost. While this sadness drifts into my heart, I realize it never seemed to touch nature. The bugs sing on without fear, hesitation, or sadness. They embrace each moment because that is all they have ever been driven to do. They accept their fate with wisdom and faith in the greater circle of life. The beauty found in each moment of that night’s song became all the sweeter because I knew I was there for that moment. That fleeting moment. That perfect moment, where things were as they should be.

 

Out here, the world is not dark and unknown, but lit by a softer glow, in a hue meant to be observed. Out here, the lively music of life is a constant reminder of the beauty of the present moment. Out here, past present and future melt away into a world of eternal presents. Out here, I learn the true nature of night. Out here, I take peace.

  

Honorable Mention "Our Spot" by Melissa Jones

11th grade, West Warren MA

 

These days are my favorite days, the summer days when we make the spontaneous decision to go to the lake. Mom puts the poles in the back of the truck while my sisters and I pick bait from the compost pile. We all load in the truck and impatiently await the twenty-minute drive to “our spot”. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t our spot, I’d been fishing there since I could hardly walk. We park the truck in the same place we always do and race to get down to the water. I love to be the first one to make it so I get the best place, a big triangular shaped rock, flat enough to be a dinner table. I could sit on that rock for hours, soaking up the sunlight, even if I couldn’t catch anything the serenity of the rippling waves would keep me occupied for as long as I could stay there. So, of course I’m always the first one to cast because Dad has to help the little ones with their bait. Mom is never far behind, always trying to beat me to the triangle rock but never making it in time. We always try to catch the biggest fish because it’s never a good fishing day without some friendly competition. While we sit watching our bobbers being carried by the waves, paying attention to the water around us to see if anything jumps, we don’t realize what we’re truly doing. Yes of course we know what we’re physically doing, we’re all fishing. But we never really analyze what’s happening in our brains and in our hearts. When we interact, whether it be on the ride to the lake, or the competitive remarks we make while we’re there, or cheering each other on when one of us catches a fish, we’re creating a stronger bond as a family. When the sun is setting over the water and we can’t see our bobbers anymore, when our ankles have been chewed by the pesky mosquitos and we know it must be time to pack things up, we can leave knowing that we just spent a day creating memories together. This is the beauty of nature; it pulls us away from the indoors and technology, and it makes us communicate and opens our eyes to the world around us. Days like these truly make me believe, a family that fishes together stays together.


Massachusetts Junior Category (grade 6-8)

 

First Place "My First Buck" by Emma Canastra

7th grade, Lakeville, MA

 

            I trudge through the woods, my heavy hunting gear weighing me down. The woods are peaceful, I close my eyes and take a deep breath allowing the crisp autumn air to fill my lungs. I looked over at my dad and smile. Today is my second day hunting. Before I know it we arrive at the tree stand. It was secured to a tall and strong pine tree. I settle in my seat finding a somewhat comfortable position. And then I wait.

           After a long while I suddenly see a doe, staring right at me. I close my eyes and sit as still as possible. I squint and see that she is now looking in the other direction. I scan the area looking for any bucks that may have followed her. To my surprise I see a deer. I can’t see if it has antlers yet, but judging by the way it is sneaking in I assumed it is a buck. When it gets closer I see it has no antlers, since it is very early for a buck to lose his antlers I assume it is a doe. The doe is in a perfect position, I look at my dad and he nods. My heart starts to race, I can feel it beating through my chest, the adrenaline pumping through my system. I can’t mess this up! I take a deep breath. I look over at the smaller doe and she is still staring at me. I move very slowly and get into position.

           I remember at the beginning of the season my dad taking an arrow and pointing to the heart of our 3D target. He showed me all of the different angles, how when I'm in the stand I am higher up so I have to aim higher on the deer, and if quartered to aim more forward.

            I aim, let out a breath, and squeeze the trigger. The deer bolts, in the opposite direction it came. I watch in disbelief as it crashes into a pile of fallen trees. I got him! I whip my head around to my dad. ”Did I get it?” I ask in disbelief. I know I did, I just need confirmation. “Did you not just see that?” he says happily. “I got a deer!” I exclaim.

            After getting a closer look, I see that the deer is a buck, he just lost his antlers very early. The next day we take him to get checked in and weighed. I watch as the dial on the scale rises until it settles on 185… dressed. I can’t hold back my smile. The man who weighed in the deer says that it is the biggest one checked in so far. “Today?” I ask. “No all year.” he replies casually. Now I really can’t hold back my smile. Everyone watching congratulates me.

            Even now I find myself reliving those moments. They will hold a special place in my heart for as long as I live.

 

Second Place "Shoot" by Mackenzie Mercier

8th grade, Holliston, MA

          

You’re cold. So cold. Snowflakes fall through the canopy of naked tree branches above. They cling to your hair and rest on your eyelashes, blurring your vision. You lay on your stomach, the thin layer of snow beginning to seep up through your cargo-pants, the ones you bought a week ago, new for this trip.

            A white-tailed deer stands frozen and unsuspecting about fifty yards away. His heart is lined up with the crosshairs of the rifle gripped in your hands. Adrenaline courses through your blood, the same rush that brought you to this sport in the first place. Place a little pressure on the trigger, come on, it’s easy, don’t hesitate, shoot.

            A breeze rustles the branches above and the animal flinches. Shoot soon; you’ll run out of time. But there’s something else, another whisper. A slight voice, a tiny squeak, telling you to forget it, telling you it’s not worth it. That voice, it’s lying. Forget guilt, forget your doubt, shoot.

            Don’t focus on the rise and fall of it’s chest, the way it seems to know that you’re there, how it looks slightly above you with a sparkle in its eye that signifies an innocent life you’re about to take. Instead, watch your breath gather in front of you when you exhale like smoke put there by a cigarette and pull the trigger. Don’t hesitate, shoot.

            Don’t focus on its pain, aim right and it won’t feel a thing. Don’t worry about how it feels, it’s a brainless animal, incapable of feeling. Instead, imagine your body filling with the warmth of victory, the echoes of the microphone when the judges announce your name as first place, the pride in your family’s eyes. Yes, imagine that and shoot.

            Another breeze, a squirrel scampering from one tree to another, your fingers itching to press down on the trigger, to release the static that’s building all around you, like a radio stuck between two stations. You want to shoot, you know it, so stop listening to the whispers and do it already! It’s not like anyone’s stopping you, shoot!

            You have to make a move soon, but you can’t — you won’t. That other voice, it’s getting too loud. Push it away; drown it out. It may be hard, but you can do it, all you’ve got to do is shoot! Shoot, shoot, shoot!

The deer lifts a leg and takes a step; adjust your aim. Don’t wait any longer, you’ve gotta shoot! Time’s running out, you gotta shoot! A little pressure, yes let your finger pull the trigger, don’t worry about the guilt you’ll feel, shoot!

            Yes, yes, pull your finger back a little farther, a little farther, a little farther, you’re almost there, yes, you’re so close, a little farther and you’ll—BANG!

 

Third Place "My First Deer" by Olivia Winger

6th grade, Trenton, ME

 

Have you ever had the glory of shooting a deer? Do you ever wonder what it is like shooting a deer?

It was 4:30 a.m. dad and I were getting dressed for hunting. We hopped in Old Greeney, that's my dad’s old truck. We drove to our area where we hunt. When we got out of the truck and grabbed our guns and headed into the woods. Dad and I were walking to the stand and I stopped for something. All of sudden we heard cracking in the woods “oh no”! the deer busted us! Or so we thought…

Finally we got to the stand. We were getting settled in, it was 6:45 a.m. almost shooting hours – I was all set in five minutes. My dad was looking in his bag for his hat and gloves because his hands were getting cold. Next, there I was with my gun up on the side I was shooting from. I was looking in the scope. Dad goes “what? do you see a deer?” I whispered “YES! DEER!!” “Where?” He asked. “Right there!” I replied. “Can I shoot?” He said “fire away, kid”.

It was so cool, It was still a little foggy outside. “Did you hit it behind the shoulder?” Dad asked. “Yup” I answered. When it jumped its tail was down and it was hunched over into a curve like shape. I was shaking after I was so ecstatic.

Me and my dad sat in the stand for 10-20 minutes before we got down to look for it. When we did get out of the stand I looked around and saw something it was another deer I said Dad! “Another deer!” It had a black spot on back left leg it was coming from the east with the wind which I thought was weird but you know deer can be weird sometimes. I thought the black spot was a wound and it was the one I shot at but it wasn't.

  So me and dad went back up to the stand and sat there for 30 minutes then came back down and went to look for the deer I shot at. We didn't find much blood so dad sent me back to the stand to get the bright orange ribbon so the little spots of blood we did find, we could mark. I said, “Dad, I can't find it” he patted his pockets and looked at me and it was in his jacket pocket all along. When I was coming back he said “Liv come here quick!” I said “Did you see the deer?” He said “Just come here!” There it was, laying on the ground, MY FIRST DEER!!!!!

When we got home I told everyone that got my first deer. They were so proud of me and I was proud of myself too. Not just shooting a deer but to provide and put food on the table for the family. My dad and I gutted it, skinned, and cut it up ourselves. The deer weighed 120 LBS.

That is my story of shooting MY FIRST DEER!!!

 

Honorable Mention "Beaver Range" by Jacob Fongemie

8th grade, Soldier Pond, ME

 

   I woke to darkness and returned home to darkness. It was Saturday, opening day for deer season, in The County. It was my first day hunting as a teenager. I prepared warm clothes the night before, and in a hurried fashion, pulled them on. I heated a couple raspberry toaster strudels and drank a glass of orange juice. Breakfast; check!

     Peter, my neighbor, who is a good hunter, was taking me out today. He has bagged about 10 bucks in his lifetime. He built a tree stand on my Pepere’s land, the famous, Beaver Range. We drove down the windy, curvy, unbeaten, dirt road until we reached our destination.

     We arrived to the stand at about 6:45. There was a blanket of heavy, thick fog, like something you would see in zombie movies. Needless to say, it was slow going from the get-go. On the backside of the property was an old cow pasture. On the far right side, it was thinly wooded with plenty of blow-down and clumps of raspberry bushes; to the left, was a field of clover.   Seven pine trees stood in the field facing us, in a horizontal pattern.

     It was a perfect set up, except for the fog. We sat in the stand until about 10:30. We didn’t end up seeing anything, except for a couple grouse and a rabbit that hopped and danced across the field.

     We grabbed our brown bag lunches from the Coleman. We had cold-cut sandwiches, chips, and root beer. Pete brought us each a whoopie pie for dessert.     We rode around the Michaud Farm road and Wallagrass until about 1:45. We didn’t see a thing worth mentioning.

   The afternoon slipped by. Pete and I headed back to the tree stand. Minutes felt like hours up in the stand, when there is no activity. We thought for sure that the deer was going to come from behind us; no such luck. In about 30 minutes, dark would find us. I was looking forward to being home sitting near the fireplace.

     We were close to calling it quits. I thought the day was a total bust… when, there it was!! A deer came prancing in from the shale pit. The beast stopped and started to eat some clover. Judging the distance, I would say it was about 100 yards away. Pete lifted his Winchester, bolt-action, 30.6 and had the buck in his sights. Fire, was the only thing left to do. I braced myself and the gun sounded. The four point buck dropped! My heart was beating hard, almost out of my chest. Instantly, we both raced down the stand and fled to the lifeless animal.   I was amazed. Next time, it would be my turn!

     We got Pete’s Ford pickup truck and loaded it in. The rack was perfect. We tagged it at Lake Road Grocery, a couple miles away. Then we had a celebration at his house. I woke to darkness and returned home to darkness.

 

Honorable Mention "The Seeds Are His" by Olivia Spadazzi

8th grade, Rutland, MA

 

            The fresh winter air is filled with the pleasant sound of melting. Scampering across the sparkling snow, a frisky squirrel heads for the feeder. When he reaches the pole where his tray hangs, he stares in bewilderment. Halfway up the pole is an enormous disk. With a mighty spring, the squirrel leaps onto the pole. Boldly he proceeds to climb, but when he reaches the disk he can go no farther. He is stuck. Although he tries repeatedly, the disk is too difficult an obstacle to cross. Baffled, he slides down with a thud. He ponders his situation. Springing off a bush, he uses the disk as a step to propel himself towards the tray. He misses. Annoyed, the squirrel persists until his paws catch on the edge. At last the seeds are his!

            The tired, soggy snow no longer glitters as the sun beats down, revealing patches of muddy grass. Spring is coming. Chewing contentedly on a chestnut, the squirrel crouches on a fencepost. Suddenly the door to the human den is flung open. Startled, the squirrel jumps headlong onto a nearby magnolia branch, dropping his chestnut in the struggle. He regains his balance in time to see a human barge through the door with something green. The squirrel watches with curiosity as a fascinating little house with a bar along each side is hung in place of his tray. When the human disappears, the squirrel scrambles down the tree to investigate. Seed spills out of holes above the bars. Eager to taste the fresh seeds, the squirrel leaps onto the perch. He stoops to take a bite, but the seeds have vanished. Confused, he jumps off and cocks his head. The holes reappear, and an olive-colored goldfinch snatches a seed. When the squirrel jumps on again and the seeds disappear, he understands. Flicking his tail casually, he brainstorms a solution. Scrambling onto the feeder’s roof, he leans over the edge to eat. At last the seeds are his!

            A majestic sunrise casts a warm glow on the backyard as the squirrel scurries to his breakfast. His scampering halts abruptly. Not again! The green house feeder is gone, and a long tube with a circular perch on the bottom hangs in its place. Fortunately, this one appears easy to maneuver. A nuthatch flutters off the perch as he leaps aboard. He starts to take a bite, but the feeder begins spinning. Faster and faster it spins, until the trees around him are only a smudge. He is slipping. Before he knows what has happened, he is sprawled out on muddy grass. Shaking his head, the stubborn squirrel tries again with the same result. The nuthatch glides onto the feeder, which has stopped spinning, and laughs at him. Growling fiercely, his stomach announces his hunger. Although the task before him is daunting, he is not worried. Whatever this strange contraption is, he will find a solution. He will persevere until the seeds are his.

 

Honorable Mention "My Big Buck" by Dexter Thayer

7th grade, Bridgton, ME

 

The morning of November fourth I was woken up by my wicked cool father long before it was light out and we started to get dressed in our hunting clothes. My dad and I loaded our guns and went into our backyard woods in Bridgton Maine. I carry a 223. caliber rifle which I had harvested a deer with in 2016 on youth day. My father sat me up against a tree where the deer cross the powerlines and he was sitting on the opposite side looking down a hill. It wasn’t 45 minutes and I heard leaves crunch in the woods. The first thing I saw was the huge chest of a buck come out of the crossing around 80 yards down the power lines and then I saw its rack. My heart started to race as I clicked it off of safe, placed my crosshairs on the deer and pulled the trigger. BOOM. My dad swung his head around as the deer staggered and dropped right in its tracks. I shot a little high and hit him in the spine but he still dropped. I was super excited when I walked over to see that it was a huge 8-point buck. I thanked the deer to not upset the hunting gods and sprinted all the way back to my house to get my skinning knife and to tell my mom to come and help. My grampy and papaw came and helped gut it because my dad didn’t know exactly how to do it. When we gut a deer we always save the heart and it is my favorite part of the deer. As we were going to the tagging station I was getting thumbs up from people as they passed. I was really hoping it was over 200 pounds so I could get my big buck patch. We went to Jim Bobs in Denmark and everybody watched it being weighed and it was 201 pounds. I got my big bucks of Maine patch to wear on my coat and I will keep it forever. The buck gave us a lot of meat in the freezer to hopefully last a while. This will probably be the biggest or one of the biggest bucks I ever get.

 

Honorable Mention "Adventures of the 2017 Moose Hunt" by Caleb Guess

Age 12, Trenton, ME

 

June 2017

            

            It was like any regular Saturday. I got up and went downstairs to watch television. A little while later my Dad came down and said somebody saw he won the moose lottery! I was so excited. We had the second week in October to hunt.                          

    

Saturday, September 30, 2017

 

            Last night we drove up to Island Falls. From there we are headed up to our friend Todd’s camp in zone two where we got our permit to hunt. (Zones are different parts of land. Each person gets one zone where they can hunt.) When we arrived at Todd’s camp we got into a side by side. We rode the trail we wanted to hunt. We looked for signs of moose like chewed saplings and tracks in the mud. We found many signs. Then it was time to go back home, and I had to wait a whole week before I could go on the moose hunt.

 

Monday, October 9, 2017

 

           I got my clothes on and gulped down a doughnut. Then we got in the truck and drove a little way up a dirt road. We got out of the truck and began walking spraying moose scent as we walked. I thought I might have heard a moose but we weren't sure.

            We walked about a half mile until we were a little ways below the scent rags we put out the day before. We knelt down on the ground and Todd started calling for moose. It was around 7:00 am. A while later my knees started to hurt, so I sat in the mud on my Dad’s vest. I was looking for the moose to the side and in front of me, and then I heard something that sounded like a cough behind me. A huge moose came out of the woods. I started moving to get my gun in position, and I heard BANG! BANG! Dad had shot it twice. The hunting part was over at 7:32 am!

            We found the moose less than 50 yards from the road. Todd went and got the truck, and we dragged the moose to the road. Then we started gutting it. Tons of organs fell out. After that we pulled the moose up on the truck and drove our moose down to the lake to wash him out. We loaded the moose onto the truck and drove to the tagging station.   They weighed the moose. It weighed 563 pounds!

            The next step was to get our moose to the butcher where they skinned it. Then they butchered it into big pieces to be cut down to size later when they were not so overwhelmed with all the moose being brought in. I had a wonderful time and would take any chance to go moose hunting again!                                                        

                            

                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 





First Place "Ode to the Green River" by Nathan T. Provost
11th grade, Greenfield, MA
 
The rain so gently fills the river high,
The growing grasses flourish on the banks
Where foliage and fauna calmly lie
    And ancient bullfrogs sing their haughty thanks.

Beside the trees that line the river’s side,
Oft shaken by the lowly winds that blow,
The swimming trout between the shores abide
Whilst drifting through the currents down below.

A town upon the river’s banks was formed,
And in this settlement my life began;
And though it flooded when the heavens stormed,
The river’s presence fueled the flames of Man.

Upon its humble shores, I often cast
My fishing rod into its shallow pools
In hopes of catching fish that have surpassed
The gated northern dam from which Man rules.

Indeed, that river flows with charm and glee,
Unlike the River Alph in Xanadu;
It does not flow into a sunless sea,
But rather drifts into the ocean blue.

Its majesty transcends the minds of those
Who carelessly discard their filthy waste
Into its rapids; oft without repose,
A plastic navy storms the banks with haste.

Lamentably, the town upon its shores
Neglects the health of that which brought it fame.
No matter whom that noble stream implores,
My town will simply not accept its blame.

Fret not! For on the banks there stands a man
Who serves the river as his wizened king;
Attentively, he executes his Plan
Of Progress whilst the graceful songbirds sing.
It pleases me to see the river fat
With energy and ever-burning light.
As Thomas Gray within his churchyard sat,
Beside the river commonly I write.

The Earth is plagued by many weeping scars
Created by the hateful whip of Man,
And yet, beneath the shining of the stars,
The river whispers to us all: “You can.”

“You can preserve my flowing majesty,
You can uphold the soil’s holy law
And save my visage for the young to see,
So that one day they all shall say: “I saw.””

““I saw the force that moves the water so,
I saw the path oft taken by the shad, 
I felt the power of the river glow
Within my soul, though I am but a lad.””

A river fine and fair must always move,
Until it meets the sea and thus its end,
But rivers never die, and this shall prove 
The River Green to be a lasting friend.

The glory of this land is plain to see
When viewed by such a pleasant learnèd eye;
And yet, the greatest joy is then to be
The staring scintillating midnight sky.

The sky is fortunate to always look
Upon the river with his endless eyes.
This beauty, never captured in a book,
Within this vibrant river plainly lies.

I thank the river for its boundless grace,
The likes of which eludes the common man;
I kneel in awe before its noble face,
The place where humble Greenfield’s reign began. -Nathan T. Provost

Author’s Notes on the Poem
(Line 1, “Green River.) The Green River is a tributary to the Deerfield River, which in turn flows into the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The river ends in Greenfield, Massachusetts, an area that earned its name from the river.
(Lines 19-20, “River Alph … sunless sea.”) This is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan,” a piece describing his dream of imperial China. In the poem, Coleridge discusses how Alph, “the sacred river,” flows through “measureless” twists and turns into a “sunless sea.”
(Lines 35-36, “Thomas Gray … sat.”) Thomas Gray was an English Enlightenment-era poet famous for writing the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” a piece he supposedly wrote in a pastoral graveyard in England.
(Lines 46, “shad.”) A shad is a species of anadromous fish known to pass by a region near Greenfield. The river involved in this process receives water from the Green River