We’re Maine-ahs. We were born in Maine, raised in Maine, our families are in Maine, and we hadn’t been back since moving down to Washington DC almost two years ago. Maine has some extremely good qualities including its stunning scenery, gorgeous state and national parks (Baxter State Park being a favorite), rocky coastal landscapes, an over abundance of trees, and booming farming industries including being leaders in wild blueberry production, maple syrup production, the dairy industry, and now has a growing beef industry. Maine has a strong fishing industry with several school mates immediately taking up their family heritage as lobster-men upon graduation.
For those who prefer spending their days outdoors there’s sky diving, hiking (so much hiking), swimming, white water rafting, skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, ice fishing (Are you seeing a wintery theme here?) sailing, camping, whale watching, moose watching, hunting, festivals, fairs and so on. However, Maine is a state that while rural and often moves at a snail’s pace, it’s also a difficult state to survive in. Maine is not a rich state with the average household income under $50,000, and less than 1.5 million people inhabiting the state. The winters are harsh, the summers are short, there’s no such thing as spring but instead “mud season” and “black fly season”, you often can’t get to “they-ah” from “hee-yah”, and fall, while beautiful with the changing of the leaves (and yes, people come from all over just to drive through the state and marvel at the fall sights), is not much more than an ominous reminder of the six-plus months ahead that offer the promise of snow. It is not uncommon for snow to fly from October to March. Living in Maine is hard, physical, character building work.
But, it was time to go back. It was time to reconnect with our roots and appreciate where we came from. The place that built us and molded us into who we are now. Of course we had a check list of things we HAD to do: camping at Smith Pond, a lobster bake in Rockland, ME which always includes a stop into Jess’s Market for several pounds of steamer clams and a bottle of Big Claw wine, checking out the new-ish Landings Restaurant overlooking the harbor as the chef is a personal friend of ours, getting homemade ice cream at family owned Dorman’s Dairy Dream, walking down Main Street so we could stop into my favorite little bohemian retail store, Mace’s, to bulk up my earring collection, hitting Birch Point Beach State Park, and of course seeing our families and friends.
We also found time for a few side excursions. We finally stopped into the Treasures & Trash barn we had driven by countless times but never found the time to check it out. Our purchase included stunning antique silverware and serving trays (for less than $40). We stumbled upon Breakwater Vineyards – winery from Owls Head and stopped in for a tasting. (We walked away with a few bottles of “Something Sweet” and their “Bee’s Knees Mead”.) And, at the suggestion of a friend, sat down for dinner at the new Humble Comfort Food & Spirits restaurant in Brewer. We also learned to never eat out in Millinocket again. Oops.
Maine certainly holds some gems and a lot of history and it was great to travel back for a week. People from Maine are humble in the way they live, yet proud of who they are, and they don’t shy away from laborious work. Families often live no more than a few towns apart, and friends are kept even closer. If you travel to Maine, be kind and respectful of your surroundings and the people who inhabit the state. There’s a reason why their slogan is “Maine, the way life should be.”
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