Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Escape

During my working days I saw Maine pretty much as an escape, and that was OK, if a bit insulting to the state. Our lives were busy, and accompanied by a certain amount of stress from work and school. Some respite, however temporary, was needed. And because Maine is so special, our anticipation of a holiday weekend, or a week or two of vacation, or even a short overnight, was very high, almost frighteningly so. You could have argued that something was wrong with suburbia if escape was so necessary. But we didn't. There wasn't much time to think about it.


Now there is time to think. That's what I tell myself is so wonderful about being in Maine. (Thinking apparently requires lots of time watching snow fall, waves break, boats steam up and down the channel of the Gut.) It's a slower pace of life anyway, and having minimal work and family duties helps as well. So is escape the right word any more?

There remain traditional elements of vacation: more reading, more lazing on the deck, more walks and hikes, more gardening. And when I'm alone in Owls Head, tendencies to the slovenly arise: minimal dishes-doing, practically eating out of the microwave, afternoon reading on the couch that often ends with the book on my face. If it weren't for volunteering for Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and the unceasing drive to write, my mother wouldn't be proud of her son at all. One must be productive.


And that's the second great thing about Maine. It's easier to be productive, at least for me. Words and ideas and images seem to flow through the air, begging to be captured. (Not that I always can.) When I look at the ocean, I see how it's true that the words time and tide are basically the same, “tide” coming from an old English word meaning “division of time.” Humans don't have endless time, except in what we see and feel and capture in art. That's what Maine offers, an inspiring and kindly division of time.

And the people of Maine seem committed to the land. (Although I continue to fear the new Governor - not only does he want to roll environmental regulations back into some Bush-era free-for-all, he also proposes to open 30% of the unorganized territories, i.e., the Great North Woods, to development.) So land trusts and others can be very productive in preserving it.

In other words, when you're in Maine there's nothing to escape from.

When you're not? Time is not quite so kindly, it's true, but one is productive in a different way, and we count all of our blessings these days.

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