Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to have a good day

  • Wake up rested.
  • Breakfast on cornbread and maple syrup.
  • Write for a couple of hours.
  • Walk to Lucia Beach.
  • Have lunch - always the favorite meal.
  • Attend four hours of committee meetings (some would cringe here, but this is land trust work we're talking about).
  • Drink on the deck, then walk down to the water to watch a full moon rise over the bay.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: The Maine way of life

Not that I necessarily know what the Maine way of life is. I’m not a native, not a farmer, not a hunter or fisherman, not a small businessman; I’ve never worked in the state, or lived here full-time. I’m just a man from the Midwest who found, via Massachusetts, in a kind of reverse migration, what he was looking for. I’m not sure exactly what I’ve found - that is, as a way of living a life, Maine’s is still a bit unknown to me - although I do know and am sure of its fantasies if nothing else. And does the solution apply to anyone but me? I hope so. When you say the phrase “the Maine way of life,” instantly it conjures up the host of images I’ve tried to limn in this book, some of which might even save us.

“Economists say that one of the Northeast’s last economic advantages is its high quality of life.” So wrote Lloyd C. Irland in The Northeast’s Changing Forest. True, but I don’t need science, certainly not the dismal science, to convince me. What sways me, and what will sway others, are the facts and faces of human geography, how the population has reacted and changed according to the embrace and the lay of the land. Those facts show, more persuasively than any science, hard or soft, can direct, how better lives could be lived.  I believe in science, and I’ve worked in science publishing for a third of my life, but ultimately science makes the fatal error of saying that since humans claim the top position of the intellectual pyramid, therefore we have conquered the spiritual one as well. Science sells itself too easily, therefore, to the wrong masters. It cannot account for the fact that the Maine way of life is first and foremost a deep experience of land. The good side of human geography might be nowhere else more obviously on display than in Maine.

Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer
Kindle                    Smashwords                        Nook 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A week in Maine - Day 5, Portland

     I’m ashamed to admit that of the hundreds of times I’ve driven through Portland, the number of times I’ve stopped can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and those were visits to the Denny’s along I-295 when the kids were small. Today, however, we decided to spend a couple of hours walking the Eastern Promenade, with its grand views of Casco Bay and the islands, and eating at Flatbread Company in the Old Port, where you can watch your dough being twirled and your toppings applied and your pizza baked in the wood oven, kind of the hipster version of growing your own food. Portland seems a very nice and manageable city, marred only (today) by the presence of two huge cruise ships in the harbor, hundreds of elderly passengers clogging the streets of Old Port, the souvenir hawkers lined up to fleece them, and a holy-roller Jesus freak on a street corner haranguing everyone from his own private hell. Perhaps he thought cruisers were likely candidates for conversions. And, once again, no moose except on sweatshirts and caps and key chains and beer mugs.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Week in Maine - Day 4, Belfast, Lincolnville, and Owls Head

     Back to familiar territory: The drive to Belfast was just two hours, and the lunch at Chase’s Daily delicious. Afterwards, we hiked the Ducktrap Preserve of our land trust, to the bridge and back.

     Back to civilization, too: the traffic was heavy, the houses large and well-kept, and we made a gas stop and a farm-stand stop and a supermarket stop, and the contrast between the poverty of central Maine and the riches of coastal Maine was striking. One looks at Greenville and Dover-Foxcroft and Milo on the map and they look promising. But the reality is grim. Dover-Foxcroft, for example, boasts a shopping mall and a hospital and a private prep school (cost: $41,000 a year), but they are all on the outskirts and the downtown is basically abandoned. It’s hard to believe that just a couple of hours separate so starkly not only our two Americas, but the two Maines, and even two adjacent counties of Maine.