September 2019

Editor’s Note by Brian Kevin
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TOC Sept 2019Earlier this summer, the Down East editorial staff rented a walk-in cabin at Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson, packed up our laptops and a whiteboard, some sandwiches from Sheepscot General, a cooler of beer, some dark rum and limes and Maine Root Ginger Brew, a couple gallons of water, and a couple gallons of bug spray. We loaded it all into backpacks and my sons’ Radio Flyer, then hoofed it a half-mile to a rustic chalet to commence the day’s business: ranking every lighthouse in the state of Maine.

Everyone on staff had been assigned seven or eight lighthouses at random and asked to pick three of them to champion. In concise, impassioned presentations, we took turns arguing why our lighthouses were more worthy than our neighbors’ of a Top 10 slot — why each was more visually arresting, historically rich, touristically valuable, evocative of Maine life and culture, etc. As the day went on, we ate the snacks and raided the coolers and passed withering judgments on our colleagues’ presentations. We took breaks to walk by the lake. We assigned lighthouses various positions in the hierarchy, changed our minds a lot, laughed a lot, swatted a lot of mosquitoes.

One of my favorite old Down East covers is from 1977, an oil painting of Southport Island’s Hendricks Head Light (#30, if you’re curious) by the late Stephen Etnier. Etnier was known for playing with geometry and the subtleties of light, and this painting is right in his usual pocket — the square lighthouse and its stilted bell tower create a thicket of weird angles and shadows, and the gnarly foreground bedrock messes with a viewer’s sense of scale. The work still pays tribute (Etnier was a realist at heart), but it’s an odd, fresh way of looking at something so central to Maine’s iconography that we maybe have a tendency to look right past it.

It’s in that same spirit that we’re coming at Maine’s lighthouses as Rolling Stone might come at Beatles albums. When we asked readers to vote online for their favorite Maine beacon this summer, they singled out Portland Head Light as their Sgt. Pepper’s (or was that Abbey Road?). We placed that one a few slots lower (more of a White Album). But of course, the point is to appreciate, not to agree. At the end of the day, we’re all fans.

December 2018
Brian Kevin
Editor in chief
bkevin@downeast.com.

Features

Every Maine Lighthouse, Ranked

Our categorical (and categorically tongue-in-cheek) run-down of every single one of our state’s 65 beloved coastal beacons.

The Monson Experiment

Over the past three years, the Libra Foundation has poured more than $10 million into rescuing a dying town. Will it be the spark that ignites a region-wide revival?

By Amy Sutherland

Beaking Out

A dilettante’s guide to the fine feathered world of Maine birding.

By Nick Lund, Brian Kevin, Willy Blackmore, And Maggie Nevens


Departments

North by East

A duo of waggish Deer Isle artists stole the headlines (but not the ATM), Maine high schools tackle their shrinking football rosters, and an Aroostook County spud-harvesting teen is no couch potato. Plus, Senator Angus King takes rideshare to the max in Maine Dispatches.

Food and Drink

We pry into Damariscotta River oyster culture at Shuck Station, dine on the shore in Aragosta’s new digs, and head up a creek (without a paddle) in search of wild Maine rice.

Good Things from Maine

Maine pet swag is the cat’s pajamas, a Kennebunk cancer survivor and her oncology-nurse sister start a line of natural beauty products, and a Waldo rowing buff sports splashy ensembles.

Maine Homes

A rustic-mod Peaks Island home hits the sweet spot for a couple with divergent tastes. Plus, a gardening granddaughter gets schooled by Nana.


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Where in Maine

Maine Moment

Dooryard

Editor’s note, reader feedback, responses to July’s Where in Maine, and more.

Room With a View

My Favorite Place


On the cover: West Quoddy Head Light, by Benjamin Williamson.

Additional photos: Nicole Wolf; Michael Seamans; Jack Roberts; Benjamin Williamson

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