The people of "Maine in Your Words."
“The real Maine is small-town Maine, where we know everyone, or almost everyone. Idiosyncracies are accepted, if not embraced. Social life is not limited to those in your church, your school, or your occupation, but by mutual interests. Privacy is respected, but when someone needs help, it’s there.”
Alice Moisen, Portland, Maine
“Maine is a great place if you are fortunate to have a good job and money in the bank. There is a lot of worry about medical bills, oil bills, too-high taxes — a lot of people are hanging on by their teeth. They rely on planting a garden and hunting and fishing to help out with the food bills.”
Rosemary Peacock, Lecanto, Florida
“I see the real Maine from my window. Pine trees, rocky coast, and a sunset to beat all others. But I also see Maine in my neighbors: friendly, fiercely proud, frank, no nonsense. The beauty of the people equals the beauty of the scenery. That’s what makes Maine so special. “
Helen Meserve, Newagen, Maine
“The ‘real Maine’ to me is childhood vacations scouring tidal pools after a storm, listening to the foghorns off Goat Island, clamming and learning how to make chowder. A generation later, it was my own children going lobstering with Arthur, walking to Mabel’s for black raspberry ice-cream cones, and learning to fish the bottom of the river at the bait shack to bring home dinner. Another generation later, it is sitting in a rocking chair on our newly built deck, listening to the evensong bells from St. Ann’s, and toasting the closing of yet another glorious day on the coast of ‘our’ Maine.”
Jackie McDonnell, Kennebunk, Maine
“The real Maine can be summed up in one word: Boots. Hiking boots to the north, garden boots to the west, fishing boots to the east, and practical, sometimes stylish, sloppy weather boots to the south. And all over the real Maine you must be able to step out of your boots when you come in the back door at suppertime.”
Mary Ellen Kelleher, Rockland, Maine
Neighbors. By Stephen Gleasner
We have a dooryard. It came with the house.
If you think this is strange, maybe it’s that you’re just visiting Maine. I have been just visiting here for the last ten years. I visit here so much that I don’t get to visit anywhere else.
I first found out about our dooryard with a vague gesture as the Realtor showed us the house.
One summer day, just after we moved in, a small battered dump truck pulled up in the driveway. The driver had squinty red eyes. A beer can was sweating in his hand.
“You want me to plow out your dooryard?” The smell of chainsaw, flannel shirt, and his passenger-seat dog mixed with the smell of pot smoke that was so strong, I kept searching for the lit joint. I looked around, unsure of the protocol.
“Not now. In the winter. I used to plow out the dooryard for Garrett.”
I could sense his suspicion, mixed with mild disgust, that the new owner was not from around here, that I was from away.
“Ah, yes,” I said. “We will need plowing when the snow comes.”
He kept one hand on the beer can and the other on the steering wheel, as he and his dog rumbled away. He didn’t get out a little notebook to jot down this new client or give me his business card, and I wondered if he would remember our little talk.
Our first snow night in the new house. Cozy excitement. Under the down quilt, we drifted off dreaming about the sparkling freshness that would greet us in the morning.
But before anything sparkled, before the horizon had the faintest glow of dawn, the house vibrated to this horrible ripping sound, the sound of some large, hard something being torn apart, or maybe a jet flying just over the roof-tops.
Out in the dark, like a demolition derby with just one vehicle, the battered red dump truck blasted about. The glow of the dashboard lit the ear-flapped driver and his wirehaired sidekick, his flannel-shirted arm out the window, just as it had been in July. In between the crashing runs I could hear AC/DC blaring. Violence reigned, a crashing, brutal display that lasted about five minutes. Then the truck disappeared into the dark.
He had remembered.
When the sun came up, I went out to have a look. The plow had pushed head-high mounds of snow here and there, transforming the former driveway into something resembling the coliseum. But these new structures had more than just snow in them. They were a jellyroll of former parking surface and fifteen or twenty feet of stuff that I used to have to mow. He had invented a new product. Tundra sod, for that igloo dweller who needs a lawn quick. Under his direction the blade had filleted the driveway, leaving a flat, snowless spot, devoid of life, a dry barren of frozen dirt. It looked like a superfund site.
He had done more than clear our driveway of snow, he had plowed out our dooryard.
“Getting up at 5 a.m. to drive to Rockland harbor to watch the sunrise through the car windshield. Looking around and discovering another half-dozen cars on the same mission, engines idling, occasionally seeing a hand wiping the fog from the inside of their windshield.”
Christie Look, Richmond, California
“The people in the small towns where the man who fixes your car might deliver your wood, be the road agent, your brother-in-law, and also live across the road. Each of his jobs has to be done with an equal amount of integrity since his character will follow him wherever he goes and in whatever he does.”
Mary E. Thompson, Addison, Maine
“When I step into a crosswalk on Main Street in Damariscotta, I know that the car that stops for me invariably bears a Maine license plate. For me, that is a symbol of a Maine attitude not found in other places.”
Emily MacKenzie, South Bristol, Maine