What fun we had in such a beautiful place!
We've returned home from Maine and are happy to be settled in here for the long wintry haul. What a busy few months it's been! None of us have any desire to travel now, for who knows how long. That cup is very full and we are looking forward to dwelling in our natural homebody states, hibernating the next few months away.
We had a wonderful time in Maine. What a big state it is - compared to my own anyway. I've been going to Maine since I was a little girl, about five years old I believe. I remember those long rides in our orange and white VW Bus, the only heater being a tiny slit on the floor between the two front seats - and what a sorry little heater it was. To keep warm Mom stocked the car with Dad's old Navy-issued wool blankets; they sure were scratchy but the warmest blankets we owned so we were glad to have them. Maybe it was a slower speed limit back then, different road systems, slower cars, more rest stops than with older kids and adults... but I recall the trip taking thirteen hours back then, now we can do it in about ten.
Visiting Grande-Memere's kitchen. My dad and his brothers own this home now, but I'll always remember Memere serving up baked beans on Saturday nights from this very stove, enjoyed at this very table.
Parts of Maine are much closer to me, I can get to Portland in three hours and we did take a long weekend there when Emily was little. Someday I hope to explore Maine more deeply, it seems so lovely. But for now, and for all of my life, the Maine I know is all the way up, at the tip-top of Aroostook County. This is where the entire paternal side of my family is from, and where much of them still live today. A cozy town with a population of 864, it is a place where everybody knows your name (and perhaps what is in your refrigerator).
The radio pulls in French stations from Canada, the TV plays French shows, and pretty much everyone there speaks French as well as English. French was my own father's first language. I wonder if he'll get back to using it with confidence now that he is living there full time. Who knows, maybe my Brooklyn New York raised mother will pick up a phrase or two!
Adam and Emily skied at the local hill and had a great time. What it lacked in elevation, it made up for in pristine conditions due to the steady cold temperatures, and of course the abundant, almost daily snowfall. While sitting in the lodge with Mom and Dad (I couldn't ski due to a not so pretty toe injury the night before... so graceful), we were joined by two uncles and cousins who were out snowmobiling and took a break from the trail to watch Emily's inaugural run down the mountain.
This is not the America that I am used to, that most of us are used to. There aren't many places to spend money in this remote corner of Maine, consumerism is not a sport. People stop and say hello, ask if they can lend a hand. Folks aren't gazing at their smartphones in public to the degree that can be seen where I live. I appreciated those things, and so much more.
Everything feels slower up there, people are kind and hard working. Life isn't always easy, work can be scarce and the winters are very long. But many people who fashion a life in Northern Maine do just fine. Most people who can't seem to make it work tend to leave and seek a life in a place less isolated, with more opportunities. Nobody seems to feel they are owed anything... life is what you make of it, work hard... if that isn't enough, make a change.
(There are many varying factors in life, but this is the general feeling that I sense.)
Today, I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took while we were there. I could go on and on with family stories and anecdotes about life in Northern Maine, but it somehow seems very precious to me and I don't think I'd do it justice by sharing anyway.
So long, Maine. Until we meet again...
Now we are home. Today, Emily has a trip to the orthodontist, then she'll meet up with her book club. Friday night her debate team meets, but otherwise we are hanging on to our holiday break until next Monday. The beauty of homeschooling... happy and grateful to embrace it.
I have a few reflections on the new year to share, next time... until then, I hope your new year has arrived peacefully and with ease. xo