SARGENT’S PURCHASE, New Hampshire — One at a time, a half-dozen cars crept over the last hairpin turn, pulling into a dirt parking lot atop Mount Washington. Each vehicle was stuffed with musicians. They got out, toting guitars, fiddles, washboards and harmonicas. Gathering around a willow-thin, guitar-strumming man on a stool, they began to jam.
The icy breeze made it cold for August. Clouds scudded and swirled above New England’s highest peak. The view was spectacular.
At the center of the throng, leading all the songs, sat Paul Dube, 63, a singer, songwriter and raconteur from South Paris. The pickers huddled around him, blocking the wind. They were there to help Dube cross another adventure off his bucket list. He’s on the downhill side of a cancer diagnosis and doctors have given him less than a year.
There’s still more to do. Dube’s list is unfinished. All his items include music and friends. He wants to make sure he keeps on living as long as he’s still alive — and he’s not done yet.
“It took a couple days to wrap my head around the prognosis, then I put the bucket list together,” Dube said, sitting in his living room last week. “I don’t got time to grieve over it. I’ve got all these wonderful friends. I’m going to enjoy them.”
Blind since the age of 12, Dube can remember seeing Mount Washington’s snow-capped peak in the distance when he’d perch in the branches of a pine tree near his boyhood home in Lewiston. He’d always wanted to play music at the top of that mountain.
Indicative of his irascible nature and penchant for weed, Dube had small stickers made up for the occasion. He handed them out to everyone who came. They read, “I got high with Paul Dube!”
“People say, ‘You’re such an inspiration.’ I’m just me,” Dube said. “I just want to be known as a well-rounded person who has a good attitude and an off-the-wall sense of humor. A sense of humor is the key to survival. It really is — not taking anything too seriously.”
Troy R. Bennett
Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.
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