Down East 2013 ©
Earlier this summer, my wife and I took a drive down the length of the crooked Phippsburg peninsula to Popham Beach. It was a cloudy afternoon, with thunderstorms gathering on the western horizon, but we wanted to see the piping plovers and the least terns that nest in the dune grass on the south side of the beach. We arrived at the lowest of low tides; the so-called super moon had sucked the sea back to the edge of the islands, and I felt like I was looking out at a glistening, newborn landscape.
If you know Popham, you know it is a mercurial, shape-shifter of a place. In any given winter, storms might erode the shoreline, cleaving away acres of beachfront, or they might create new walls of sand to break the waves. Occasionally, the Morse River decides it wants to flow north instead of south and cuts a channel through the tombolo — which is a fancy word for sandbar — between the park entrance and Fox Island. No matter how familiar you think you are with the beach, sooner or later it’s going to surprise you.
And so it is with Maine. At the top of my job description as the Editor in Chief of Down East, it says I have an obligation to stay current with the state of the state. To carry out my duties, I travel hundreds of miles, I follow the news in every medium known to humankind, I talk to both Maine natives and to tourists making their first visits to northern New England. But still, Maine has a way of surprising me. That’s because — like the shifting sands of Popham — the state is always in flux.
When you live here, it’s easy to miss the subtle changes happening around you. It’s only when you run into a summer person at the market, and you hear them remark, “There are so many new shops in town!” that you realize that, yes indeed, there are all kinds of stores on Main Street. And you haven’t yet set foot in half of them.
This issue of the magazine features stories on two icons. Acadia National Park and Mount Katahdin represent permanence in our imaginations, fantasies of a Maine that never changes. As protected lands they are more likely to maintain their character over time than, say, a street in Portland’s Old Port. But I’m willing to bet that if you visit either of these destinations this summer you will find something new, whether it’s a trail you’d previously overlooked or a magnificent view suddenly revealed by toppled trees.
We think of summer in Maine as a time of discovery. But it is also a time of re-discovery. Like many of you, I plan to spend the season traveling across this beautiful state. I have no idea what I’m going to see, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.