Down East 2013 ©
Every year when we begin putting together the “Best of Maine” issue of Down East, we start with a random list of our favorite things. For instance, our Welsh copy editor, who grew up on British-style fish and chips, has recently become enamored of a takeout stand near our office. He’s lived in the States a while, but he ranks the fried haddock at Graffam Bros. Seafood Shack in Rockport as being the equal of anything he ate in the land of his birth.
The point is that we didn’t start out asking ourselves, “Where’s the best fried fish in Maine?” We started by asking, “What are the things about Maine that we love the most?” It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one, because it gets at what has made the Magazine of Maine unique among publications for the past fifty-eight years. Simply put, Down East is the magazine for people who love Maine. If your response to the Pine Tree State is to shrug your shoulders and say, “meh,” then Down East isn’t for you. (Honestly, though, Maine is such a cool and interesting place that we are mystified by anyone who thinks otherwise.) We are unabashed in our enthusiasm for this place.
It’s not that we see the state through Rugosa rose-colored glasses, either. Maine has its share of problems that need to be confronted without sentimentality. You will learn about one of them — the emergence in many Maine communities of a dangerous new drug called “bath salts.” Our aim is to make sure that any criticisms we offer as a magazine are constructive. As I have written in this column before, we recognize that there is often a role for tough love in any relationship.
Because ultimately that’s what it’s all about: a real love of Maine. Each of us has chosen to live here — or to return here as often as we can — because we feel a magnetic pull that is attuned to our own personal lodestone. When I left for college at eighteen, I never planned to return, but somehow I found myself pulled back. I tried to escape again when I was twenty-nine and lasted only two years before I realized that Maine was home to my favorite things.
Each of us has his or her own personal best of Maine list. I am partial to the fried haddock at the Slipway in Thomaston. But who am I to argue with a Welshman?
Editor in Chief
Photograph by Lori traikos