Editor’s Note by Kathleen Fleury
The background photo I keep on my iPhone is a shot of my son, then just a year old, lit up by green Christmas lights at Gardens Aglow, a wonderful light show put on this month by the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Last year, we drove down Route 1, then turned onto the craggy Boothbay Peninsula to wait in a snaking line of cars filled with people pining to see this truly impressive array of color and light. My son was mesmerized by the different hues — pinks, purples, blues, and greens — and kept leaning in for a closer look. It was a magical experience, watching both of my kids as their eyes reflected the lights — and emanated the wonder and joy the display sparked inside of them. I felt the same way.
Light takes on a special meaning as the darkest day of the year approaches. We import light into our lives — through candles or strings of LEDs or fireplaces — in an effort to brighten our physical and, perhaps more importantly, our mental landscapes. For me, December has always been about contradictions. Even as we watch daylight hours dwindle, we’re nearing the rebirth
of the sun and its long return to strength. On the one hand, December is a month to begin our retreat indoors, to light fires and candles and cozy into our natural hibernation period. I find myself inclined to read and write and cook warm, hearty meals. On the other hand, it’s a month filled with celebrations. It’s a time to gather together and celebrate our traditions. It’s a time when we tend to see our first snow, which sends my children running outside, with me right behind them, our heads tilted up and mouths open to catch the first few flakes.
This issue is filled with stories that reflect these dualities. We explore the concept of winter light in a beautiful photo essay. We inspire you to get out and enjoy the mountains and the snow. We help you pick the perfect Maine-made gifts for those many gatherings of friends and family. We introduce you to a man who insists this month really is the best time of year to run a marathon in northern Maine.
My hope is that you’ll curl up with these pages, perhaps next to a fire or surrounded by festive decorations, and experience December in Maine through these stories. You’ll allow yourself to feel the push and pull of inside and out, of darkness and light, of shared celebration and introspective hibernation. However you spend these 31 earthly rotations, we’ll all soon be making our way towards longer and lighter days once again. – Kathleen Fleury
A soft glow in the windows of a warm home at dusk. The shimmer of the aurora above a white horizon. Light is quasi-sacred during a Maine winter. In the year’s darkest month, we offer a visual tribute to all things luminous.
Who wants to run 26.2 miles through the Maine North Woods in the middle of December? And who really believes that doing so will make a lick of difference for a struggling mill town? Gary Allen does.
A few hard-charging ski heroes want to take Maine’s nascent backcountry ski scene to the next level, from Carrabassett Valley slopes to Acadia peaksto Katahdin cliffs. You ready to skin up?
Our love for Maine artisans meets our Yankee frugality. Brilliant ideas for Maine-made gifts for your family, your friends, even your dog — and none of them will break the bank.
North by East
Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine
News You May Have Missed
The Coolest Hanukkah Decor
Colossus of Christmas
Living the Maine Life
Making It in Maine
Room With a View
What to Do in Maine This Month
From Our Archives
On the cover:Black-capped chickadee, the Maine state bird, by Paul Cyr
Additional photos:Jared Kuzia; Michael D. Wilson; Benjamin Williamson; Meredith Perdue, Mike Taylor