It’s fair to say that most of the world thinks of Maine as a summer place. From June through September, our streets are traffic filled, our shops and restaurants are crowded, and our beaches, camps, and state parks are packed. Proof is in the statistics: more than 3 million visitors came to Acadia alone in 2016, almost all within the span of those four months. (To understand the impact on our state, remember that Maine’s total population is under 1.5 million.) There’s good reason for it: Nothing compares to being at camp or on the coast on a just-right summer day. I can almost taste the joy just thinking about it.
And yet, this lifelong Mainer would argue that Maine is best understood outside of that singularly popular season. Just as a little solitude and introspection might help us better know ourselves, so it helps us understand Maine. You can become acquainted with Maine through her exuberant summer self, but come winter, she presents another side, full of depth and nuance.
Throughout the fall and into December, foliage and holiday celebrations keep visitors coming. But after New Year’s Day, it gets pretty quiet around here — and pretty cold. Many of us year-round residents relish the respite, if not the weather that comes with it. It’s a time measured in logs burned, stews simmered, and feet of snow shoveled.
Our “Summer in Winter” feature (page 64) offers glimpses into a handful of quintessential summer places transformed by winter — including Camden, where I live. This time of year, our population is around 5,000, a third of what it was in the height of summer. Nothing moves in the harbor except cakes of ice. During a snowstorm, the lamp-lit streets turn into a scene from a snow globe. Yet, absent summer’s frenzy, community and friendship blossom, and Camden becomes its fullest self.
I recommend that anyone who loves Maine spend time here in the dead of winter — in fact, I recommend a lifetime of winters here! The warmth you’ll find may surprise you.