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Thursday
Aug162012

My heart is in Maine

I have an overwhelming urge to find the ends of the earth, especially those ends we can drive to. Thus my fascination with Portland- ME or OR, I don't mind. C3 and I made our way to Maine a few years back, and I dream of it still. We found a rental cottage on Lake Maranacook at the end of the vacation season, mid October, an early 20th century encampment. One thing to know about Maine- rustic really means rustic. Our cabin's walls were nothing more than antiquated plywood separating us from the elements by a slim quarter inch. The roof over the bed had a 'skylight'- a gap between ceiling and wall that one could spit a watermelon seed through, and a bathroom outfitted with a hose spigot threaded through the wall and into a cheap fiberglass stall. The toilet seat was so cold I took to peeing outdoors. In the South, October is the tail end of summer- C3 & I married on 10.25.08, and I couldn't have dreamed a more beautiful and temperate day. In Maine, however, October means impending cold, cold, cold. In the cabin, with our paper-thin walls, we quickly abandoned the upstairs bedroom and made a nest by the fire on the first floor.
It seems the Kennedy style Down East closes shop after Columbus Day (I find this ironic and hilarious), and soon after checking in, a local stopped by to shut off the water. Clutching quilts around ourselves, we wheedled access to the plumbing for another couple of weeks, and we got down to the business of becoming Maine- ers.
This is what we learned- folks aren't so friendly up north. C3 and I are both very open, expressive people, colorful, if you must, and this doesn't go over so well. Down South, my singing impromptu musical numbers in the produce aisle and Clay's ability to strike up a conversation with anything holding still are treasured attributes; up North, we're considered weirdos. The first day in the cabin we woke to a knock on the door; we then met Norman (pronounced 'Naaah- Mann'), a local mushroom gatherer, and once he'd told us all about Maine mushrooms and we attempted a real conversation, he looked at us like we'd offered him a basket of wolverines. He didn't come back.
Anyhow, the point of all this backstory is this: we discovered kayaking, 'The Year of the Cat', and really good sandwich rolls. Working backward, Mister realized his dream of eating lobster rolls every day- we found a little fish market (on the Maine coast? No!) and bought two pounds of lobster salad and fantastic little mini baguettes. I'm not so crazy about lobster- it's just brine-y styrofoam to my palette, and they really are the cockroaches of the sea- but, Lord above, the bread is marvelous. Sweetie blissfully noshed on lobster, I snuck rolls and butter.
'The Year of the Cat' was a surprise. The cabin had a radio in the kitchen, and we stumbled across a wonderfully weird local station that played obscure tunes interspersed with farm reports. C3 had mentioned that particular song a few times on our drive to the end of the world; I'd never heard it before, but there, in the middle of nowhere, it became a daily delight. I haven't heard it since- further proof that Maine is magical.
Last and best of all- the floating. The cabin had a little dock and two kayaks for our use. I took a nap one afternoon, woke up a little befuddled, and looked out the window. There in the lake was my darling husband, clad in his pajamas and a raincoat, paddling away on the glassy surface of Lake Maranacook. I fell in love with him again that moment, and he easily charmed into joining him.
Throughout the rest of our stay, we went out in the kayaks every day. We made great friends with the loons and learned a lot about Maine duck hunting. One afternoon while paddling, I spotted a group a ducks in an inlet and immediately started rowing towards them. A voice boomed from the shore, 'Aaaay! We 'ah duck huntin' he-ahh!'. Point taken.
All in all, after all this rambling, I realize how much I miss Maine. The gruff, wind blasted people are honest and driven- polar opposites of my flighty, silly self, but somehow comforting. I love the cold, I love the isolation, I love the sense of living in a different country within my homeland. We'll be back, and perhaps we'll just stay this time.

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