30 November 2005

The Christmas Season in Maine

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There is something about the Christmas season in Maine that simply warms the heart. The church bells seem louder and more confident, the otherwise unnoticed pines and evergreens are now adorned with tiny lights, and in spite of the cold weather, Mainers seem to have a spring in their step.

Recently, as we all know, the day after Thanksgiving ushered in the busiest shopping day of the year. Many of us braved the crowds, while many more of us were horrified by the pictures we saw on TV and in the newspaper the next day of people in stores fighting and running over one another.

We didn't venture out with the die-hard shoppers and bargain hunters, but I spoke with many people who did. Apparently, the stores were quite crowded, but Maine didn't seem to face the problems that plagued the more populated areas. People rushed and searched for bargains, but they were polite and nice.

We finally crept uneasily into the Wal Mart in Portland that Saturday, and while it was still crowded, people were cheerful, helpful to one another, and not at all pushy.

Am I living in a dream world? Is Maine as wonderful as I keep telling myself it is? The truth is, there isn't a day that goes by in which I don't say, "I can't believe I live here," or "Don't you just love it here?"

Then again, it makes sense when you think about it - after all, it's the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

01 November 2005

Rural Living

In Maine, even the cities feel a bit rural.

We live in a town with a population of about 8000, and we have a neighboring town with a population more than doubling that. Yet in Maine, these are some of the larger towns.

Portland, the largest city in Maine, weighs in with a whopping 230,000 people. It is just large enough to give us (among other things) an international airport (called a jetport here in Maine), an urban shopping mall, a wonderful symphony, and an art museum.

The capital city of Augusta has a population of just over 20,000. The cozy city on the Kennebec gives visitors a feeling of going back to simpler times where the capitol building was the center of town, not just a tourist attraction.

Most of the towns in Maine are small, quaint villages right out of a Norman Rockwell painting or Stephen King novel (without all the horror, of course). Most towns have an adorable white church with a pointed steeple, a town green with a gazebo, and some water source, whether a lake, a river, or a pond in the center of town.

Maine's rural living often gives us glimpses of wildlife right in town. Just a couple of weeks ago, a large bull moose sauntered right through our suburban neighborhood and walked past our home. The local school bus had to stop and let it pass. A few weeks before, a young moose walked down Main Street and crossed at the only streetlight. Motorists watched delightfully as the moose trotted off into the woods.

This time of the year, the wildlife is more active as many animals are getting ready for winter. As you drive through the countryside, the small towns, or the big city of Portland, keep a lookout for busy foxes, squirrels, and even the occasional moose. Enjoy the taste of rural living and remember, this is the way life should be.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

01 October 2005

Maine Fall Foliage

Ok, I have to talk about the outdoors again.

In our area of Maine near the coast, the leaves have only begun to change. Last night was our coolest night yet at 38 degrees and the green leaves have begun to fade. All around the area, maples are popping up in bright crimson, peach and gold, shocking the senses as they peek through the still primarily faded green landscape.

This is my favorite time of year. The skies are usually blue, the air crisp, and Mainers have a spring in their step. Soccer season has begun and Saturday mornings find the town buzzing with excitement as families descend on the local fields to cheer on their children. Yard sales are everywhere as people try to get their basements, sheds and garages cleaned out for winter - while others are looking for a great deal.

Autumn in Maine puts Mainers on the move, much like the busy squirrels and chipmunks hunting obsessively for acorns to pack their winter store. We know the snows will be here soon. We know the first freeze is just around the corner. We take the snow shovels out of the shed and put away the lawn furniture. We do last minute repairs on the exterior of the house. We cheerfully put away the lawn mower!

In autumn, we work hard and watch with a smile as the foliage begins to appear and the days couldn't be more beautiful. We know this crisp, cool, colorful time in Maine is fleeting. In some ways winter seems a long way off, but on these cold mornings, it seems to be lurking just around the next bend. Until then, though, we enjoy our autumns. They are most definitely the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

15 September 2005

The Town Dump

There is an interesting phenomenon in Maine known as Going to the Dump. I've lived many places around the country, and nowhere but Maine have I found this phenomenon. When we first came here, we were a bit taken aback that there was no city garbage pick-up in our small town here in Maine. We were used to putting our rubbish out on the curb at no charge, watching it be picked up and whisked away to God knows where. We didn't know or care where it went as long as it was off our curb by the end of the day.

In Maine we found out that it's a social event to go to the dump. When I first heard this I envisioned dragging our large, stinky, cat-litter-filled garbage bag up onto a smelly, stinky trash pile and dumping it there. I imagined probably slipping on banana peels and old diapers. The thought sickened me. So we found a company to pay that would come pick up our garbage off the curb and take it away, just like we preferred.

But over the years, I continued to hear about the dump. I know a homeschooling family who found an entire set of 1960s encyclopedias at the dump. Had they rummaged through the rotten fruit to find them? I knew another family who found an old baby stroller and a ping-pong table. I was intrigued, but still wary.

Finally, in an effort to save money, we decided to take the plunge and visit the dump ourselves. A friendly neighbor took me for my first dump visit and she showed me around, telling me what went where and how the whole thing works. I went envisioning the proverbial trash pile, but what I found amazed me. It was mid-summer, a warm day, but there was no stink. The recycling center was clean and well organized and the trash bags were simply thrown through a door into a large, concrete refuse pit. The people working there were friendly and helpful, as all Mainers are.

Soon after that, we made our first trip to the dump. We took all our garbage and recyclables and it was actually a fun experience. And the best part - my daughters found an old foosball table, which we promptly took home. Now they can't wait to go back. And now I feel like a true Mainer. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

30 August 2005

Hurricane Katrina

This is a tragic day in the lives of our brothers and sisters on the Gulf coast. Hurricane Katrina did her worst and for thousands, life will never be the same. Please join me as we pray for the victims and families of those affected by Katrina. If there are any specific names you would like us to pray for, please let me know.

15 August 2005

Blueberries

Several years ago, when my children were old enough, we all set out to the nearby open fields to pick blueberries. As any good Mainer knows, wild Maine blueberries can be found just about anywhere, come late July and on into August. Day after day, my children and I walked the short 1/2 mile or so to the blueberry fields near our home. Our fields are found in the cleared-out area where the power lines run through the countryside. There, miles and miles of blueberries grow each summer, and there, many roadside stands gather their stores.

Maine wild blueberries are tiny, much smaller than the variety found in most supermarkets; but the flavor is unmistakeable. Maine blueberries are sweet, juicy, and what they lack in size, they make up in taste.

At ages four, five, and even eight or nine, my children loved going to the blueberry fields. Each day we enjoyed blueberries on our breakfast cereal, blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, blueberry cobbler, and blueberries on our ice cream after supper. Each day my husband smiled when he came home from work to find more wild blueberries in the refrigerator. He fondly called us "blueberry picking fools."

Today my children are older and have lost their desire to go picking. A couple of weeks ago when the blueberries became ripe, I gathered everyone to walk to the local fields, each of us carrying bowls and buckets, but the children soon lost interest. They complained about the heat and went to the nearby stream to cool their feet.

But somehow I still can't get enough of the Maine blueberries. Perhaps it's because there are simply so many; one could pick for days and still always find more. Perhaps it's because they are temporary; they come and go before we know it and although we can never pick them all, we want to get all we can while we can. Or perhaps my husband is right. Perhaps I'm just a blueberry picking fool. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

31 July 2005

Only in Maine...

There is a common saying around the Pine Tree State - "only in Maine..." Locals know what it means and visitors and tourists aren't long in being let in on the secret. There is no one thing to which this saying applies; it could be the fact that so many Mainers have above-ground pools, even though the summer season is quite short. It could be the fact that Mainers say certain things that only they understand: "ayah" "wicked" and "yep" to name a few. Perhaps the "only in Maine" saying comes from the fact that when Mainers accidentally hit a deer with their car, they take it home and eat it. It might even be the way they seem standoffish, yet they will give their neighbors (and tourists and strangers) the shirts off their backs to help someone in need.

Mainers are delightful people who love their fair state and though we mutter about the traffic during tourist season, we genuinely love our out-of-town guests. Recently a column by the Portland Press Herald's Bill Nemitz exemplified, in my mind, the phrase, "only in Maine." Not jsut because he happened to give that name to the column, but because the story he tells shows the true heart of the Maine people and the funny things that happen during tourist season. Here is Bill Nemitz' column for your enjoyment:

Even dead, this moose refuses to go quietly

Enjoy!

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

01 July 2005

4th of July in Maine

Going to a 4th of July parade in Maine is having a little slice of Americana. It makes one think that Norman Rockwell must have found the inspiration for his classic artwork right here in Maine. Every year we attend the 4th of July parade in Bath, Maine. It usually begins around 11:00 a.m. or noon, just when the day is heating up, but spectators usually gather on the hill next to the public library under the giant oaks which provide plenty of shade.

The fun of going to the parade isn't just in watching the small-town politicians, the home-made floats, and the heartfelt military presence from nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station; near the gazebo above the parade route there are a variety of other attractions: hot dog stands, fresh squeezed lemonade, and of course, fried dough. Nearby is an outdoor art show and across the street is the annual library used book sale.

When the parade is over, people aren't ready to go home. While in many areas of the country it is often far too hot to be outdoors at noon on the 4th of July, Maine is usually quite mild. Spectators then make the short walk to the next street over, where, right next to the mighty Kennebec River, they find live music, much more food, and a variety of amusement park rides. The street is closed and the party goes on well into the evening.

Long about 9:30 on both the 3rd AND the 4th of July, Bath residents and visitors are treated to fireworks shot from a boat out on the Kennebec. One year when we went, the fireworks were amazing and then the moment they were over, a summer thunderstorm hit, sending everyone running and laughing.

This year the forecast for the 4th of July in Maine is sunny, dry, and in the mid-70s. Wouldn't you agree - it's the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

22 June 2005

More car trouble - more kind Mainers

Yesterday we had more car trouble. We were out in the woods at the edge of a tiny town on the bay, and the battery died. We were literally, out in the middle of nowhere. We found a few people around but nobody had jumper cables, so once again, we called AAA - we've really gotten our money's worth with them this year! I gave very specific directions to the dispatcher but I was sure the driver wouldn't be able to find us. We were in a remote location on a dirt path off the main road. We could see the main road from where we were, but the trees were so thick, I didn't think the truck would see us.

We were told we'd have to wait about an hour, but we settled in for a longer wait considering the circumstances and the non-emergency nature of our need. The sky was blue and the sun was trickling through the thick pines. It was actually a very pleasant day to be stuck in the woods.

Only 20 minutes into our wait, the big tow truck arrived to give us a jump start. The driver was a grizzled old Mainer with a harsh sounding voice but a heart of gold. He was huge and potentially scary looking, but incredibly kind and friendly. If I'd been afraid of wild animals before, I wasn't with him there. He offered a few kind words, got our car started right up and then chugged his truck back out onto the main road.

I love Mainers. I'll never be one - not officially anyway - but I love them and I want to be one. They are so good; salt of the earth, doing good deeds kind of good. I wish everyone could know this kind of life - the way life should be.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

15 June 2005

June 15 ~ 47 Degrees and Raining

Ok, it is COLD today in Maine. Am I weather obsessed? This year I certainly am! We had a very unusual springtime with highs in the 50s and a ton of rain. Last week we had a warm stretch and it seemed summer had finally descended upon us. But today winter is fighting for a last hurrah before letting any of us put our sweaters and coats away for good.

I'm wearing jeans, wool socks, a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket. I'm thinking of building a fire in the wood stove, but that just seems sick and wrong in the middle of June. We planned to drive to the beach later this week, but the highs are only forecasted in the 50s and low 60s. Mainers aren't complaining yet, but they're a bit perplexed about this odd weather.

Yet ~ I spoke to a friend in Virginia yesterday where the heat and humidity is almost unbearable and I have to smile as I snuggle into my coat and drink hot cocoa. Compared with their weather, in my book, THIS is the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

14 June 2005

Pond Swimming in Maine

Now that summer is here and the weather is trying to make up its mind to stay warm, many Mainers are looking to head to the beach or any form of water to cool off, catch some rays and maybe even swim a few laps. Yet visitors will find that Maine, unlike most states, isn't big on public swimming pools. Instead, visitors to Maine will enjoy going to the local pond for a swim.

Ponds all over Maine are either kept in their natural state so the happy swimmers just jump right in with the fish and turtles, while other ponds have been converted into public swimming areas. One such pond in Brunswick, Maine, Coffin Pond, is a favorite of local Maine children.

Coffin Pond has been set apart from the natural water source and is chlorinated. Though you won't find any fish in the pond, it has a sandy bottom, a small beach, and a snack shack at the far end. But the best attraction, by far, is a two-story water slide where frolicking visitors climb the set of stairs from the beach and then slide merrily back into the cool water of the pond. The pond is staffed by conscientious life guards and has a scenic playground nearby.

If you're visiting Maine this summer or you live within driving distance of Brunswick, take a day and relax at Coffin Pond. Surprisingly, it's right in town, but with woods all around, it feels like it's in a remote woodland location. Enjoy swimming Maine-style and take a spin on the water slide while you're at it!

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

09 June 2005

Finding the Horizon

I grew up in the west, in the land of wide open spaces and horizons. For anyone who has lived in sight of the horizon, you know who you are and you know the importance a horizon can hold. When I moved to Maine, though I fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the state, I missed seeing the horizon. Instead of looking out my window to see plains or mountains, I looked out to a wall of tall pines and birch trees.

After a few months in Maine, I went searching for a horizon. I found it at the top of Bradbury Mountain in Freeport. I found it again when we climbed Mount Megunticook near Camden. But my favorite place to see the horizon is at the end of Bailey Island.

There is a meandering road that goes south from Brunswick; it crosses three bridges, and spans the length of two islands before arriving at the Cribstone Bridge which gives entrance to Bailey Island. Although there are many reasons to visit Bailey Island, I always keep driving right to the end of the land where there is a gift shop appropriately named, "Land's End."

The shop is delightful, but the view is even better. A few scattered islands with lighthouses are the only obstacles to seeing the perfect horizon on the Atlantic. There is a small beach at Land's End and rocks on which to sit. Summer or winter, I go there to soak in the view of the horizon. Afterward, I drive back through the winding roads to the forest that is now my home and somehow, when I look through the window at the swaying trees, I don't miss the horizon so much anymore.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

01 June 2005

Finding the Moose

When we first came to Maine, I was determined to see a moose. I had never seen a moose in the wild and I was fascinated with the lumbering animals which, Bill Bryson says, "look like a cow drawn by a three-year-old."

I began asking around about the best place to spot a moose. Rangeley, everyone said. You can't go to Rangeley and not see a moose. So we planned a long weekend at Rangeley Lake. We stayed in a rustic cabin just a stone's throw from the water and all our extended family joined us there. We saw skunks, deer, foxes, loons, and even a bald eagle, but not even a trace of moose.

The next year I volunteered at a local radio station in Freeport. One day when I arrived, several people were talking about the moose they'd seen just down the road. I jumped back in my car, drove to the spot, but there was no moose. My husband and children went out for a drive in the mountains one day while I was working, and when they returned, they announced that they had seen three moose. Three! I was so envious and a bit skeptical.

We had been here about three years when I finally saw my first moose - and it was dead. It was on the side of I-95 and had tragically been hit by a car. I imagine the collision was tragic for the driver of the car, as well, as moose collisions are often deadly. It was terribly sad to see such a majestic creature lying by the roadside, lifeless and limp. This prompted a rather sick joke in our family: they claimed that the only moose I would ever see was a dead moose; and furthermore, if I did have the fortune to see a live moose, it was a misfortune for the moose because my seeing it would cause it to die very soon.

I continued to go on about my life with only a dead moose sighting to my name, Friends and family came to Maine and were treated to many moose sightings - always when I wasn't around - which was perhaps fortunate for the moose.

Then one year I hit the jackpot. Our family decided to do a day-long drive through the mountains near Moosehead Lake. We found an old logging road that cut through from Greenville to Millinocket and came out near Mount Katahdin. We knew it would take hours to navigate in our little Volkswagen, but it was spring and we needed to get out of the house after the long winter.

After leaving Greenville, we started slowly down the rutted, bumpy road, bouncing along, unknowingly causing our Volkswagen permanent damage. After a couple of miles, we saw it - a very young moose standing curiously in the center of the gravel road. It watched us for a moment and then trotted casually into the thick woods. "Oh no," said my husband, "It's probably going off to die." But before the words had faded into the mountain quiet, we saw another moose standing next to the road a mile or so from the first one. This one was older, but just as curious and stand-off-ish.

The jokes about dead moose disappeared when we saw our third moose; another young one that simply galloped awkwardly across the road right in front of our car. It was as if all the moose in Maine had been waiting for me to drive down that road on that spring day so they could give me the thrill of my life.

In the end, we saw eleven moose that day, all on that road from Greenville to Millinocket. The last one was something out of a postcard. Just below Mount Katahdin, we pulled over and saw a large male moose with giant antlers standing in a lake. He lowered his head under water every so often to munch on the soft vegetation and eyed us disinterestedly.

There really is nothing quite like seeing a moose in the wild, but beware of getting too close, as they are unpredictable and can be aggressive. If you come to Maine to see a moose, don't despair if you are unsuccessful; it happens to the best of us. But I would recommend finding that logging road between Greenville and Millinocket!

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

25 May 2005

Mr. Blue, Where are You?

It's been raining in Maine, now, for nearly a week. Or has it been longer? All I know is that this is unusual. We have something in Maine known as the mud season - it is the time that usually corresponds to the snow melting and the onset of the spring rains. But that should have ended a month ago. This is really odd.

It has been below 50 degrees for several days on end and the sun is a distant memory. Tonight we started a fire in our wood burning stove, not so much for heat (though we do still need it) but more to dry things out.

I keep thinking about the old ELO song, Mr. Blue Sky. Remember that one? I look out the dripping windows at the soggy yard, puddled streets and drooping trees; I imagine, like in the song, that one of these days the sun will come back out and I'll "run down the avenue and see the sun shine brightly..."

Well, one thing's for sure, everything is VERY green!

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

23 May 2005

Random Acts of Kindness

Last week my children and I drove south to Connecticut to visit family. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day full of blue skies, daffodils and blossoming trees.

On the way home, we were driving up I-95 in our mini-van when the back left tire blew out. The drizzle clouds had moved in and darkness was on its way. Thankful for cell phones and AAA, we made the necessary calls and then sat back to wait for help to arrive. Things such as this had happened before, and though thankful for the help, we were used to a long wait.

But much to our surprise, within 10 minutes help arrived in the form of a crusty old Mainer with a strong back and a tough smile. He changed our tire in record time with only a few friendly "yups" and "nopes" directed toward us. We phoned ahead to the Sears at the Maine Mall in Portland to find out if we could have a new tire put on. The man on the phone was fatherly and understanding, encouraging us to get there before closing time.

When we arrived at the Sears, the manager was outside waiting for us, and immediately directed us into the garage. The whole process was finished in less than an hour. After having dinner at the mall food court, we went back to get our car and were met with smiles and friendliness.

What could have been a long, stressful evening actually turned out to be rather delightful. Mainers are like one big family. They look out for each other and for their visitors. These men didn't know me but they went out of their way to help me and were friendly to boot.

As we continued north that night through the darkness and rain, I thought back to the big, blue welcome sign we had passed a few hours before: Welcome to Maine, The Way Life Should Be. Isn't that the truth?

15 May 2005

Pros and Cons

Today we had a discussion with friends about the southwestern part of the United States, New Mexico in particular. Our family has spent a lot of time in Santa Fe and I grew up in Colorado. Thinking about the rugged mountains, arid climate, wide-open spaces, and perpetually blue skies often sparks pangs of longing in my heart, especially on days such as this; well into springtime, it is 40 degrees, raining and windy in Maine. We are still wearing turtleneck sweaters and winter jackets.

But then, driving home from our visit with friends, through the rainy car windows we see the reluctant leaves just beginning to pop out on the maples and birch trees. The pale green is not yet more than a mist enveloping the still-bare branches. The bridge over our river carries us by an old mill that has been restored and made into a charming restaurant. The sturdy white clapboard houses along Main Street steady themselves against the wind, black shutters nailed on tight, bright red doors welcoming those caught out in the storm, and warm glowing lamps through the lace-curtained windows indicate a pleasant room filled with the scent of home-baked bread and hot cider.

Maine is so cozy and colorful. Each season brings a new reason to cherish this state. When I miss the blue skies of the southwest, I remember that every place has its pros and cons. But when I add them up, Maine seems to have much more of the former and very few of the latter.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

09 May 2005

There were these trappers...

Recently my husband traveled with some business associates from Maine to the University of Michigan for training in his field of work.

He shared with me that at lunch one day, one of the seminar leaders, a woman, was chatting with them and they were discussing much of the business they do here in Maine. The woman was extremely interested in what they had to say, and she finally asked them, point blank,

"How do you hear about these things up in Maine?" To which, my husband retorted,

"Well, a year or so ago, there were these trappers that came through and passed on the information..."

We got a good laugh from that. The truth is, those unfamiliar with Maine do often think of it as remote, wild and primitive. But we don't mind. We know the truth about Maine.

It is remote. There aren't very many people here, and we like it that way. Tourists who come to visit Maine in the summertime are frightened by the rumors about our winters.

It is wild. We have bald eagles nesting all along the river that runs through the town where we live. Foxes and deer are common sights, and even moose are sometimes seen near the coast.

Primitive? I'll never tell. All I'll say is, it's the way life should be. :)

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

05 May 2005

Springtime in Maine

Springtime blooms late in the Pine Tree State. In late March when all the stores are receiving their spring and summer stock of clothing, Mainers are still dressed in snow boots and winter parkas.

At Easter, when many children in more southerly climates are dressed in springtime finery and merrily hunt their colored eggs among dandelions and wildflowers, Maine children are shuffling through a late spring snow or enjoying their egg-hunt indoors with popcorn and hot cocoa.

When much of America is planting its gardens in early May, Mainers are nurturing seedlings in tiny pots on their sunny windowsills, and counting the days until Memorial Day, when the frost warning is lifted.

Today, springtime has arrived in Maine. The forsythias are blooming, daffodils and tulips have popped out all over town, and the robins and chipmunks are everywhere. The temperature is a balmy 60 degrees with a bit of a biting breeze, but we are outside enjoying the sunshine. We imagine that tomorrow the temperature might reach the upper 60s. We imagine that the tomatoes will be planted early this year.

We also know it could still snow once more… but we don’t mind because this is the way life should be.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

04 May 2005

Musings of a West Coast Gal in Maine

Families and friends are what hold our society together. We were created for relationships, and the connection with parents and siblings doesn’t end when we grow up and move away.

When my family moved to Maine several years ago, I left behind an extended family on the western end of the country ~ Mom in New Mexico, Dad in California, and 30-something baby brother in Washington state. I also left behind cherished friends who were there for me in the early years of the lives of my children. I left behind the abundant sunshine and wide-open spaces, and traded it in for overcast skies and frigid winters.

Compared to the West Coast, Maine is a foreign land of humid summers and thick forests. When I arrived, I found that there are insects I’d never heard of, foods I’d never tried, and colloquialisms that still give me a chuckle after all these years. Other than speaking the same language (sort of) I might as well have moved to China. But then, I like Maine so much better in many ways. It is far less populated, the air is very clean, and it has an unspoiled, rugged beauty that does cause us to say, in spite of ourselves, that it is the way life should be.

Truth be told, part of me longed to seek out new lands and have a bit of distance put between me and my quirky family. After all, I’m all grown up and have a family of my own now. But I miss my West Coast friends and family. We have a heart-connection that is strong in spite of the miles between us. My dad is close to my son and I often wish they could spend more time together. Nearly every week, I wish we could have my mom visit for dinner. My brother and I don’t talk nearly often enough – if only, if only …

It is unlikely that I will ever again live in the same hometown as my extended family and West Coast friends. It is unlikely that we will even live in the same state, or on the same side of the Mississippi. Maine is my home now and I love it so. But I can dream… and in the meantime, I can visit them vicariously through the heartfelt work of some of my good friends who have brought to life some of my favorite areas of the West in their writings.

Leanne Phillips is my California buddy who makes the Golden State shine in her special sites entitled:

All Info About California and The Beach Place Blog

Donna Gunnels is my friend who lives up near my brother. She is fortunate to live and write in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she brings it to life in her site entitled:

Oregon/Washington Coast Vacations

Join me as I visit family and friends the new-fangled way. It may not be quite the same as an in-person visit, but it's the next best thing to being there.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes

27 April 2005

Welcome to The Way Life Should Be!

It seems redundant and boring to call Maine a beautiful state. Those who have been here already know its beauty. Those who have only heard about Maine are well aware of the legendary scenery. But it is more than just the rugged beauty of the coastline, the ancient forested mountains and the lighthouses, blueberries, moose and lobster. Maine is all that.

Yet more importantly, Maine is a lifestyle. It is relaxed, yet hard-working. Friendly, yet guarded. Gorgeous, yet unforgiving. Simple, yet complex.

The people of Maine are what makes it tick. Mainers are a tough breed who live with the ebb and flow of the seasons and have a strong work ethic. Each season has its work and its recreation, and they take advantage of all it has to offer. Mainers do not take their heritage lightly, nor do they extend it to outsiders. A Mainer is not a true native Mainer unless he is 3rd generation born in Maine. Outsiders are welcome and even loved and trusted; but they never become family.

Mainers love their small towns and do not wish them to grow. They have all the modern conveniences without the traffic and pollution that accompanies them. They might have less malls and a few less sports cars than the big cities and well-populated states, but they know the value of a reliable old pick-up truck and the comfort of having everyone at the local convenience store know you by your first name.

I love Maine. I will never be a Mainer, nor will my children, nor my grandchildren... but there is hope for my great-grandchildren. But I have claimed Maine as my own. I may not belong to it, but it belongs to me and for me, it is the way life should be.

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes