2013 / 83 minutes

Directed by
Anna Grimshaw
Country of production
United States
Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods

"Spring in Dickinson’s Reach" provides an introduction to the unique environment that Bill Coperthwaite has crafted in the Maine forest. Beginning in early spring, the film follows Coperthwaite through his daily tasks as he tends to his surroundings as one season gives way to another. He pulls weeds, sharpens knives, whittles away at spoons, clears downed trees – an intensely private man whose solitude is occasionally interrupted by the arrival of visitors, young men eager to learn and to share their passion for tools and for making. Through the intimate camerawork and careful attention to detail, we are drawn into a remarkable world – one that is painstakingly built and maintained by Coperthwaite. In its simplicity and integrity, we find a rare beauty. It stretches from the magnificent wooden yurt, to the workshop, boathouse, forest paths, dense canopy of trees and waters of Mill Pond.

The film is part of the "Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods" series: it charts Coperthwaite’s life as it unfolds over the course of a year. It explores the changing character of work through the seasons and the distinctive temporality of specific tasks. "Spring in Dickinson’s Reach" establishes, literally and metaphorically, the scope of Bill Coperthwaite’s world. In contrast, "A Summer Task" is tightly focused and follows a single activity in painstaking detail. "Autumn’s Work" charts the passage of time through a change in the seasons as Bill makes preparations for winter. "Winter Days" draws the viewer into the quiet space and routine of the year’s end.

A meditation on time and process, Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods offers an intimate portrait of a remarkable life — one shaped by nature, work, poetry and the rhythm of changing seasons. Coperthwaite emerges as a Thoreauvian figure for our time.He reminds us of the central, but often overlooked place, of nature in American culture.

Language and subtitles
Location(s) depicted
Machiasport, Maine
North America
United States
Alternative culture Rural Everyday Life Art / Artists / Artisans