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
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