January 2016


The Magazine of Maine

Editor's Note by Kathleen Fleury
[W]e Mainers are known for talking about the weather. We love to do it. Hot or cold, snow or rain, we’ll always find something to talk about (or in my case, complain about), no matter the month. The weather is our collective commentary, our dependable guide through the seasons, and an instant way to connect with the cashier or the mailman or the fellow dog walker.

Kathleen Fleury, Down East Magazine

Kathleen Fleury

We have a few pieces in this issue talking about the weather — thankfully, all much more eloquent than my usual winter-morning gripes. Kim Ridley explores the beauty and science of sea smoke, while Ken Textor explores an even rarer fog-related phenomenon that he witnessed early one frigid morning.

Small talk — that’s the pejorative name for engaging in this kind of behavior. I happen to disagree with that characterization. As Paul Doiron points out, the weather is a shared experience that brings us together. And especially in this frigid — and, yes, somewhat lonely — time of year, there is nothing small about that.

But there are times when we must talk about more than just the weather. I met ZamZam Mohamud in the fall of 2014. Charismatic, radiant, smart, funny, resilient . . . those superlatives don’t suffice when describing this extraordinary community bridge-builder from Lewiston. I knew I wanted to delve more deeply into her story — and how that story is interwoven with Maine’s own.

ZamZam is a lot of things. She is a mother, a nurse, and a neighbor. She is a school board member and an advisor to Lewiston’s police department. She is a former refugee from Somalia and a U.S. citizen. She is a Mainer. Maine wants — and needs — more people like her, not because of any one role she fills, but because she cares deeply about her community and is working to improve it.

As the pieces came together for our profile of ZamZam, world events took a tragic and all-too-familiar turn with the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris. Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric spewed forth. Down East doesn’t take specific political stances on the complicated questions facing our state and our society — we’ll leave that to others — but it is our mission to show the world just what Maine is all about. Just as this magazine celebrates our state’s culture, history, and natural beauty, so too do we take pride in its basic character. The values of this state are part of the landscape that we’re dedicated to exploring and discussing with you.

Mainers are known for our tolerance and acceptance, and we’re glad those ideals are part of our communal discussion this winter — along with, you know, the weather. — Kathleen Fleury


Reader Photo Contest

Hundreds of you sent photos, and our judges picked the 12 most stunning shots representing your vision of Maine. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Smoke on the Water

A winter pleasure: cold air flowing over warmer seawater gives rise to Maine’s rarest — and most beautiful — type of fog. By Kim Ridley

We Need More Mainers Like ZamZam Mohamud

Politicians love her. So do neighbors, cops, and hot dog vendors. And her selfless spirit — and the demographic shift she represents — can reshape our state for the better. By Jesse Ellison

See Inside


Where in Maine?

Can you name this handsome cove and the island where it’s found?

Editor’s Note

Down East The Weather

The Mail

What You Said

North by East

Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine

Down East Dispatches

News You May Have Missed


The Fate of Videoport’s Stash

What’s in a Picture

The Passion of Benjamin Bubar


Jeff Curtis of Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops


Living the Maine Life


A Barn Home in Cornville

My Maine

The Snow Globe

Making It in Maine

Quoddy Footwear


Traditional Beef Stew

Room With a View

Season of Myths


What to Do in Maine This Month


MK Kitchen


The Corner Storytelling Series


Downeast Daydream: A (Grown-up) Coloring Book

January Calendar

From Our Archives

On the cover: South Portland’s Spring Point Ledge Light by Benjamin Williamson
Above: Cait Bourgault (skiers); Jared Lank (shoes); Carl D. Walsh (storytelling); Douglas Merriam (dining)

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