DIXFIELD — Right after her graduation from Western Michigan College in 1971, Marianne Archard and a college woman friend jumped in the car and drove to Maine — to see the coast.
Now, 40 years later, she is retiring from her position as librarian at Dirigo High School and is looking forward to returning to some of the activities she and her husband enjoyed during their early years as homesteaders in Vienna.
They were sort of “back-to-the-landers” who met at a camp in nearby Mt. Vernon.
Archard remembers that she and her friend had just one eight-track tape to listen to all the way to Maine. A tape by Randy Newman.
And the two young women never really settled on the coast. They went to Augusta, then later to Vienna. Her friend is now in Portland, and after June 15, Archard will be home baking bread, planting flowers and vegetables, and perhaps getting chickens once again.
She and her husband, John, the youth tobacco coordinator for the state, built their home as they could afford it, so they don’t have a mortgage. They won’t go off the electrical grid as they did in the early days. But she expects she’ll have more time to do some of the outside things she loves like providing more hikes as a certified Maine guide, particularly during the autumn months, canoeing and kayaking.
“I’m looking forward to retirement,” she said.
But she also is sad to say goodbye to the students and the staff.
“I like high school kids. They are fresh and young and you can see them mature by the time they graduate,” she said.
Her degree from the Michigan college was in English. Once she and her husband had raised their two children, she returned to school to become certified as a library media specialist. She worked as a library educational technician at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington for nearly eight years, then at Dirigo as a librarian for another almost eight years.
Becoming a librarian seemed like a natural thing to do. She loves reading and literature and likes the high school kids.
“I feel like I’m ready to retire,” she said.
One of her first activities as a retiree will be canoeing the Boundary Waters in Minnesota with another like-minded woman, to see the wolves, or at least listen to them, she said.
Then she’ll think about what kind of volunteering she might like to do. She’s thinking about Habitat for Humanity, or perhaps at the small library in Mt Vernon.
She and her husband have two adult children, Dylan and Erin.