31 December 2006

Happy Maine New Year ~ 2007

The countdown has begun and Maine is getting ready to usher in another new year. Although the world is an imperfect place and 2006 has had its share of ups and downs, most of us agree that even during the hard times, life in Maine is the way life should be.

Happy New Year, friends.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

24 December 2006

White Christmas?

I blame Bing Crosby for our fixation on a White Christmas. Especially in places like here in Maine, we not only hope for a White Christmas, we expect one; and many of us are quite disappointed if it doesn't happen.

Yesterday I was doing some last minute baking for Christmas, and it was nearly 50 degrees outside and raining hard. My husband and I had been grumbling about the weather, the warmth, and the lack of snow, when the radio began to play the song, "Let it Snow." It begins with the words, "Oh, the weather outside is frightful..." and I began to laugh.

The weather outside WAS frightful, even though it felt tropical by Maine standards at this time of year. But it made me stop and think about how silly it is to get caught up in unknowns at this time of the year. Here I was surrounded by family in a cozy home with plenty to eat, and I was griping about the lack of snow.

I sat down to read and I pondered the real meaning of Christmas. I encourage the rest of you to do just that. Whether your Christmas is white, green, or tropical, put aside the desires and expectations given to us by the media and Hollywood, and remember why we celebrate.

Merry Christmas from the beautiful coast of Maine...

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

21 December 2006

Blue Christmas

We're just days away from Christmas now, and all over Maine, one will find twinkling lights, greenery draped decoratively over doorways and fence posts, and Christmas decorations galore. Yet not everyone is in a celebratory mood.

Many Mainers, and people all around the country find that the Christmas season can be a painful time, if they have experienced grief or loss. For those who have lost loved ones, gone through a divorce, experienced a job loss, had health problems, or had some other type of pain, Christmas might conjure up feelings that are nowhere near the Norman Rockwell type holiday that the media and advertisers pummel us with from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.

For those who are feeling blue this Christmas and have little desire to sing the carols or attend the parties, Blue Christmas services can be found all around the state of Maine.

And with this being the shortest day of the year, many of us find that we suffer from Winter Blues. While the days will begin to get progressively longer after today, the darkness will still be with us for some time, in addition to the weather becoming colder and colder. If you or your loved ones suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, discover the book, Winter Blues which will teach you how best to deal with it.

During this time of sometimes-difficult holidays, darkness and cold, Maine can feel like a depressing place to many of our neighbors. As you celebrate the holidays with your family and friends, remember to reach out to those who are hurting and show them with the Christmas spirit is all about.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

18 December 2006

Reprieve from the Cold

I always find that not long after Halloween and the switch back from Daylight Savings Time, I sort of go into hibernation mode. Even with the onset of the holidays, I find that with the shortened days, sudden cold and darkness, my creativity juices seem to flow much more slowly. Although I still have to work, all I really want to do from November to about the end of March is curl up with a stack of good books and a cup of hot cocoa, and have someone notify me when winter is over.

But this year is different. While the darkness has been unavoidable, the cold has been minimal. We have only used our wood stove a couple of times so far this year, which is much less than normal. Just this past week, we've had temperatures in the 50s and we've turned off our heat altogether.

It might not feel much like the Christmas season, but it is much easier to hang Christmas lights on the house while wearing a sweater and no gloves, rather than being bundled up like an arctic explorer. And it does still get down close to freezing at night, so hot cocoa is still a very viable option. :)

The cold will be here soon enough. Until then, I think I'll go out for a walk!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

02 November 2006

Halloween Night

We had a wonderful Halloween here in Maine, with temperatures in the lower 50s that evening, and very little wind.

We always enjoy Halloween in our town because there is a parade for the children to show off their costumes, and in the evening, when the sun goes down, it is a time when we get out and see all our neighbors for sort of a last hurrah before winter sets in. Halloween is also a pick-me-up after the time change from daylight savings time has put our sunset at just about 4:30 p.m.

Thankfully, Halloween was quite safe in Maine this year. It seems that for the most part, gone are the days of tricks and we are left with mostly just treats. It seems that pranks are passe and community camaraderie is the order of the day.

In our household, Halloween is sort of the unofficial beginning of the countdown to the Christmas holiday season. While Thanksgiving is the official start of the shopping season, we begin looking ahead now. After all, the leaves have fallen and it's suddenly dark for much of the day. This is the time to cozy up the house, get ready for winter and start thinking about cooking comfort foods!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

16 October 2006

Bar Harbor - A bit of Heaven

Yesterday we took a bit of a road trip to Bar Harbor. Correction, that’s Bah Hahbah to anyone who has been there and knows…

We went to cheer on a friend who was running in the Mount Desert Island Marathon. After watching him cross the finish line in Southwest Harbor, we drove through Acadia National Park. Although the fall foliage is now past peak, many of the maples still had colorful leaves that were hanging on for a last hurrah. The sky was clear, the ocean water sparkling, and sometimes the scenery was so pretty, it made my eyes hurt.

We couldn't resist driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain where the views simply took our breath away. I don't care how long one lives in Maine, looking back at Bar Harbor and the porcupine islands on a clear, fall afternoon from the top of Cadillac is something to behold. We made the obligatory stop at the summit gift shop and enjoyed the steaming coffee and touristy items.

Back in Bar Harbor, we stopped at the Island Chowder House for a mid-afternoon lunch of clam chowder and caesar salads, and then we browsed the shops a bit. On a whim, we stopped at the Jordan Pond Ice Cream & Fudge Shop for an ice cream cone. We weren't looking for anything special, just something sweet, but this turned out to be the BEST ice cream any of us had ever tasted... this from a family who knows. It was insanely creamy, sweet, totally decadent. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Now, to figure out an excuse to do it all over again next weekend...

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

07 October 2006

Fall Foliage at its Peak

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. As Maine's fall foliage hits its peak, here are a few photos that will describe the beauty much better than any colorful phrases I might compose...






Some amazing foliage in our back yard...












The soccer fields early this morning - with frost still on the grass...







Looking up at the sky and seeing a canopy of scarlet...





A scenic pond near our home...






...the way life should be...

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

04 October 2006

Shake, Rattle and Roll...

If you were anywhere near the Bar Harbor on Monday evening, you probably felt the earthquake that surprised everyone there. In fact, there have been a series of small earthquakes in the area over the past couple of weeks.

Many years ago, when we moved to Maine from Southern California, we were certain we had left the earthquakes behind us; but we awakened to shaking and rattling in our beds on a Saturday morning about 5 or 6 years ago. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief and simultaneously said, "Earthquake!" There was no damage and it stopped at about the time we realized what was happening.

But in Bar Harbor this week, things have been shaking a little harder than usual.

According to seismologists, Maine typically has one to three earthquakes each year, and those are rarely anything more than a magnitude 3. The quake on Monday was a 3.9, and it involved more than just a little shaking and rattling. Walls shook, items fell off walls and shelves, and glass broke. Rock slides resulted in the closing of several roads and hiking trails in Acadia.

While Maine's solid rock foundation usually means fewer quakes, it also makes a 3.9 magnitude earthquake here feel more impressive than it would feel in California, where the fractured ground eases the vibrations. Here, the shaking carries straight through the hard bedrock.

According to scientists and the history books, the biggest earthquake on record in Maine occurred in 1904 near Eastport. With a magnitude of about 5.8, it damaged chimneys and walls and could be felt as far away as Massachusetts and New Hampshire. While rare, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake would be expected to occur in Maine approximately every 138 years.

Since earthquakes give no warning and cannot be predicted, when one hits, we have very little reaction time. If you feel an earthquake, no matter how slight, keep in mind the following suggestions:

1. If you are indoors, run to a doorway or get under a sturdy table, to protect yourself from falling debris.
2. If you are outside, do not go into a building; stay out in the open.
3. If you are driving, pull over and stay in the car; try to avoid bridges or tunnels.
4. If you are in the mountains, move away from cliffs or rock outcroppings.
5. If you are at the beach, move to higher ground as soon as possible. 6.Most importantly, remain calm and encourage others around you to do the same.

While earthquakes in Maine are rare, we should always be prepared.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

03 October 2006

Maine History

My middle-school-aged daughters are studying Maine state history this semester. They have a work book in which they are required to write reports, collect photos, make sketches, and gather information all about the state of Maine.

I have enjoyed helping them with this project as together, we all continue to learn more about our state. We studied the historical timeline of Maine and we've learned all about the industries that keep Mainers employed.

Whether you're a native Mainer, a transplant, or a visitor to our fair state, consider taking the time to learn about the first Mainers who paved the way for us to be here today. Find out how Maine entered the Union as a state and read about the heroic people who have come from Maine.

Below is a list of links to sites all about the history of Maine. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

30 September 2006

Marching the Portland, Maine Marathon

The 15th annual Eastern Region Marathon Championship will take place tomorrow, October 1, 2006, in Portland, Maine. This is a marathon that has taken place every year for the past 15 and runners from all over the area have been training for the 26.2 mile run.

However, this year the marathon will have more than 120 participants who are not running to win the race or to beat their own time. This year, a group of soldiers from the Maine National Guard will march the 26.2 miles in full uniform - combat boots and fatigues - each with a 30-pound pack on his back. They are marching to honor their comrades who lost their lives in the line of duty. Many of the soldiers have spent their own time in Iraq or Afghanistan, but others have yet to be deployed.

Many of the soldiers will march the marathon in relay stages, but 23 plan to march the entire course. Some have trained by alternatively running and marching, while others are going into the march completely cold. Read more about the soldiers at Portland Press Herald - Marathoners.

If you would like to run or walk alongside these brave, honorable soldiers, the race is still accepting participants. Entry fees are $50.00 for the marathon and $35.00 for the half marathon. The starting line is at Baxter Boulevard, between Forest Avenue and Preble Street in Portland. Registration goes until 6 p.m. today and starts at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, at the University of Southern Maine Gym on 96 Falmouth Street. For a course map of either the marathon or half marathon, CLICK HERE.

The spectator-friendly course starts and finishes along the Back Cove. The first and last four miles are mostly flat. All three races are together for the first six miles before the half marathon heads back to Portland. In between, runners enjoy Mackworth Point in Falmouth (just north of Mackworth Island), a short detour off Route 1. The course then returns to Route 1 and turns onto Route 88, where runners pass many stately homes.

The half marathon course includes rolling hills between Miles 4 and 8. After that it is mostly flat on its return to Portland, again crossing the very scenic Martin's Point Bridge area. The marathon and relay continue along Route 88 to Yarmouth for a 2.5-mile loop around a rural neighborhood before rejoining Route 88 for the return trip to Portland. The marathon course features a mixture of rolling hills and flat sections between Miles 4 and 17, and is mostly flat or downhill for the final nine miles. There is a limit of 2,500 runners for the marathon and half marathon combined.

If you aren't up for the run, consider coming out to cheer on the members of our military who are honoring their own. Isn't it the least we can do?

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

28 September 2006

Maine Elections are Coming

Buy at Art.comWith Election Day now only weeks away, now is the time to register to vote and if you haven't already done so, to familiarize yourself with the candidates.

This year, Maine will vote in regard to its Governor, one of its Senators, and both of its Congressional Representatives. In addition, there are numerous state and local offices up for grabs, and many more than are being challenged. It is not only our right, as citizens of Maine, to vote in the elections, it is our duty.

Visit the Directory of Maine Candidates so you can get to know the candidates better and make an informed decision, come November.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

21 September 2006

Moose at Pemaquid Lighthouse

If you were one of the lucky people to be having breakfast at the little cafe next to the Pemaquid lighthouse on Monday morning, you might have caught a glimpse of a beautiful bull moose that was acting like one of the tourists.

It was early in the morning, just before the park was set to open, and suddenly, there was a moose with a full set of antlers, just wandering around the lighthouse, apparently enjoying the view. Although park authorities attempted to chase him away, he showed no signs of being ready to leave. You can read the rest of the story HERE.

Male moose can be very aggressive at any time of the year, but especially now, during mating season. If you encounter a moose, stay out of its way, and it will usually leave on its own. If the moose seems to be causing trouble or becomes a potential danger to itself or others, call the local authorities and they will drive it away safely.

To read more about moose and moose encounters visit The Elusive Moose.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

19 September 2006

Pine Trees on the Coast

When I was growing up in Colorado, the mountains were full of pine trees of all shapes and sizes. Whenever we visited our relatives in Texas, we went to the beach in Galveston and there wasn't a pine tree in site - only a few palm trees. Consequently, I always associated pine trees with the mountains only - never the ocean. They seemed like they always belonged worlds apart.

When I moved to Maine, I was shocked to drive through a thick pine forest and watch it open up to a stunning view of the Atlantic ocean. In many places, the pines grow right on the edge of the ocean inlets, providing a rich contrast of crystal clear water and dark green woodlands.

Over the weekend, we spent some time at the Sherwood Forest Campsites which was the perfect example of this whole pine tree/ocean paradox. Sherwood Forest is set in a serene forest of pines that makes visitors feel as though they are deep in the mountains; yet Pemaquid Beach is just a short walk away. A gentle trail through the woods takes walkers to the shores of the rocky Maine coast and the white sands of the beach without leaving the pines far behind.

The waters off the Maine coast are frigid, even in the summer, and as we're bordering on autumn, our feet became numb very quickly as we waded in the surf. Yet the sun and sand were warm, and the fall breezes hadn't yet taken hold.

Although part of me will always associate pine trees with mountains that are thousands of miles from the ocean shore, I've come to love the thick pine forests on the shores of Maine's coast. I guess you could say it's the best of both worlds.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

14 September 2006

Maine's Upcoming Foliage Show

My good friend Leanne lives in California, and like me, runs a website for her home state called All Info About California. We often enjoy comparing notes about our very different homes; sometimes it feels as though we live in different countries rather than states, what with the differences in weather, climate, lifestyle, pace, and even time on the clock.

This morning Leanne sent me an article on the upcoming fall foliage for which New England is famous. You can view the article HERE. The good news is that it seems our upcoming fall foliage show is going to be a doozy here in Maine.

According to Maine's official Fall Foliage Website, color is just officially beginning in the northern parts of the state, while along the coast, it is still only sporadic at best. I live only a few miles from the coast and I've seen a few leaves changing here and there; especially the maples right in town.

Now is definitely the time to visit Maine, or to enjoy an outdoor excursion if you're a local. Visit All Info About Maine Foliage for a bunch of ideas about fun things to do, places to go, and things to see.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

11 September 2006

Remembering September 11

On September 11, 2001, when we turned on our televisions and watched in horror as the World Trade Center Fell, as the Pentagon burned from a gaping hole in its side, and as a plane went down in Pennsylvania, we in Maine did not know the extent of what was going on. In our tiny, quiet towns, we wondered if the planes were going to come our way, if our water supply was safe, and if there were bombs in the schools.

Like everyone across the country that fateful morning, we in Maine suffered with all our fellow Americans. Most of us either lost someone in the attacks, or knew others who lost someone. Many of us turned to God during our time of fear and pain. We all put small American flags on the bumpers and antennae of our cars, we prayed together, and we were glued to the television, watching all the horror, the speculation, the updates, and the horror again... and again.

Today, five years later, in many ways, the country has moved on. The seasons still come and go, tourists visit Maine each year, traffic gets snarled, houses are built, new babies are born, and school starts on schedule every fall. Some of us still go to church, but many of us no longer feel the need. Yet, we all lost loved ones in the attacks, whether or not we knew them. We all lost fellow Americans - fellow mothers and fathers, fellow school children, fellow workers, and fellow heroes.

Today my prayer is that Americans, and the world, take pause to remember the lives lost that fateful day, and the God who gave us comfort in our time of need. September 11, 2001 brought us together as a nation, it changed our world forever, and we must not forget.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

07 September 2006

It's Fair Season in Maine

Recently at the Windsor Fair, Bill Clark, a Mainer from Bristol, took home the winning prize for pumpkin growing thanks to a 613 pounder he'd been painstakingly growing all summer.

Fans will be interested to know, however, that Bill Clark's pumpkin growing season isn't over yet. On September 24, the Cumberland County Fair will host the state pumpkin weigh-off and Mr. Clark has another pumpkin growing that could very well break the state record of 1114 pounds.

Stop by the Cumberland County Fair on the 24th to see who takes home the prize, and to see if the state record falls to Mr. Clark!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

01 September 2006

Stephen King would be Proud

Perhaps many of you have been keeping tabs on the story about the "mystery beast" found dead near Turner, Maine, just north of Lewiston.

Apparently, for more than a decade, Androscoggin County residents have reported seeing and hearing a mysterious animal that screams in the night, frightens people with its glowing eyes, and attacks and kills pets. This mystery beast has been blamed for the death of a Doberman and a Rottweiler in recent years.

Many theories, both rational and outlandish, have been formed to try to explain the beast. From the possibility of a mixed-breed dog, a hyena, or a Tasmanian devil, to it being half cat and half dog, or even half rodent and half dog. Whatever it was, Mainers were freaked out, to say the least.

Then, in mid August, an unusual animal was found dead near some power lines along Route 4, apparently having been hit by a car. The beast that was found had a bushy tail, short ears and a short snout, blue eyes, fangs that hung out over its lips, and it weighed about 50 pounds. Residents and town officials were quite certain that this might be the mystery beast.

Now, DNA tests have proven that the animal found in Turner was, indeed, a canine. Feel free to read all about it at MaineToday.com.

Still, I have to say, I'm disappointed. I sort of like the idea of a mystery beast. Maine is known for being the setting for so many of Stephen King’s chilling tales, and this critter that was found on the roadside might not be what’s been wreaking havoc all these years.

Maybe the real beast is still out there… somewhere… Don't we owe it to Stephen King to at least keep it open as a possibility?

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

30 August 2006

Misty Mornings

Well, today was one of those days. I left for a morning walk at about 6:30 a.m. and while the sun was shining through the bases of the tall pines, there was a misty fog hanging across the tops of the trees. In fact, when I left, I could see sunshine, but then the sun rose, and by the time I got back, the sun had disappeared behind the fog.

Yet, by about 10:00 a.m., the fog had completely burned off and gave way to a perfect, 70 degree Maine day. I checked the national weather map. Tropical Storm Ernesto was slugging its way through Florida. Much of the south and central part of the country was experiencing temps in the 80s and 90s. Alaska is already getting snow. But here in Maine, it was a perfect day.

I’m savoring this and I feel so thankful. Early mornings in Maine are such a treat – so fresh, clean, and perfect, even when it’s raining. But especially when it isn’t.

How about taking an early morning walk in your neighborhood this week – as the summer temperatures let up a bit, but before the autumn winds begin to blow. Wherever you live, it can be a pleasure. And if you live in Maine, well, it’s simply the way life should be.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

29 August 2006

Remembering PFC Andrew Small

I’ve been following the story about PFC Andrew Small , the 19-year-old soldier from Wiscasset who died nearly three weeks ago in Afghanistan. This story, like all the others about our young service men and women who have lost their lives serving their country, is tragic and sad. Here in Maine, when one of our own is lost, it is like losing a family member.

My own son is 19-years-old, and ironically, also named Andrew. He’s thought seriously about the military, but decided instead to go to college first. His heart is with the young soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and I know he imagines that he could be one of them – one of the brave, one of the proud… and one of the fallen.

When driving up Coastal Route One last week, we noticed a sign at a local diner, giving homage to PFC Small. It’s the least we can do. He was a brave young man, yet only a boy. And he was one of ours. We will miss him terribly.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

27 August 2006

Hints of Autumn

I drove out into the countryside today; a phrase that is a bit paradoxical, considering that when one lives in Maine, just about anywhere can classify as “in the countryside.” What I mean is, I left our small town, where we have a main street, concrete sidewalks, and stoplights, and went out into the rolling hills and farmlands; the back roads that are off the beaten path, where the houses are old, the trees are older, and the cows are often more populous than the humans.

It was a bit of a rainy day with a chill in the air. The thermometer on my car checked in at 59 degrees Fahrenheit at 2:00 this afternoon. I wore a sweatshirt and I confess, I even turned the heat on low. I switched the radio dial to my favorite classical station. Cool, cozy Sundays always turn my heart toward the soothing music of strings and pianos.

As the car wound around the hills, I passed an old stone wall, a country store, now boarded up and closed, and an apple orchard humming with activity, and signs promising cider, pumpkins, and other autumn treats. Momentarily, I thought it was all a bit premature, what with it still being August, and the fact that many of the schools don’t start until later this week or even the next.

Then I came around a bend and saw a tall, lone maple that had its branches partially scooped out to allow power lines to pass by. While all the trees for miles around were still a bright hue of green, the top of this lone maple was a bright scarlet. It was the first – the first sign of autumn.

We still have a few weeks of warmth, but the dye has been cast, so to speak. Autumn is on its way and there will be no stopping it.

I can’t wait. :)

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

12 August 2006

Perseid Meteor Showers

Tonight my daughters and I donned sweatshirts and crept into our backyard after dark to look for the Perseid Meteor Showers. It was a crisp 50 degrees that felt more like mid September than mid August, and we reveled in it.

After craning our necks for a few moments, looking at the clear, starlit sky, we decided to lie on the trampoline, for an easier, more relaxing view.

We chatted as we lay there, trying to name constellations, lamenting the few wispy clouds that were floating by, and we wondered about the various digging and scratching sounds we could hear in the woods around us. My oldest daughter spotted one meteor as my other daughter and I were getting settled, and then we waited for more.

As we waited, suddenly we saw great flashes of light, followed by a thundering boom. After our initial surprise, we realized it was the fireworks show at a local festival, just a few miles from our home. We peered through the trees to see if we could view the fireworks, but all we were able to enjoy was the light reflecting on those few wispy clouds.

In the end, my younger daughter got bored and went back inside. I finally joined her, not because I couldn’t have remained on that trampoline and looked at the stars all night, but because it was getting late. My older daughter saw two more meteors before the bright August moon rose and brightened up the sky.

Scientists tell us that although tonight was the peak, we may still see more of the Perseid Showers for at least another week. The best time is just after dark, before the moon rises. Try to find a dark spot away from city lights; perhaps a beach or an open field. A trampoline in a backyard works quite nicely. And even if you don’t see any shooting stars, the stars that stay in place coupled with the fresh, crisp Maine nighttime makes it well worth the effort.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

08 August 2006

Sunset

Two days ago I was privileged to take one of my favorite drives down Coastal Route One between Newcastle and Bath. It was about 7:00 p.m. and after an off and on hazy day, the sun was beginning to sink into the cloudy horizon.

As I coasted along the winding road, drinking in the always-spectacular scenery, the small towns along the way seemed more inviting than ever. The sun and the surrounding pink clouds were slightly to the right of the roadway, and each time I passed a body of water (which is often along that route), the entire reflection was pink, as well.

Driving across the long, flat bridge into Wiscasset was what postcards are made of, what with the small town skyline in the background and the shimmering pink/gold water in the foreground. The stretch between Wiscasset and Woolwich - always a treat - was cozy and quaint.

And as always, ascending and then reaching the summit of the Bath bridge took my breath away. The sky was completely pink by this time, with the sun virtually hiding in the background; the river water was pink, the church steeples were pink... the entire town was pink. I found myself, alone in the car, exclaiming outloud.

I marveled, as I drove, wondering as I so often do, if my fellow drivers were noticing what I was seeing. Were they, in their rush to get home or to arrive at their destination glancing up off the road to see the beauty of our fair state? I certainly hope so.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

04 August 2006

East vs. West

Earlier this summer, my family traveled to New Mexico and Colorado to visit family and friends. Having grown up out west, I like to go back every few years to once again see the wide open spaces, feel the dry air, and enjoy the abundant sunshine.

When we first moved to Maine, many years ago, I wasn't sure I'd like it. I felt a bit claustrophobic by all the trees and the change in seasons was more drastic than anything I was used to. Yet as the years have passed, Maine hasn't just grown on me; it has gotten into my blood. I used to make my husband promise that when we retire in 20 years or so, we will move back to the west; yet now I find myself questioning that idea more and more.

This last time I went west, it was as wonderful as ever. Every day in the mountains was 75 degrees and dry, and the sky was eternally blue. There were no black flies, hardly any mosquitoes, and few trees to block the views. But when I came back to Maine, I knew I was coming home. No longer do I say I'm going to visit out west because it's home - it's simply where I grew up.

The west is always beautiful, but it is always changing. People are moving there in droves because of all the aforementioned reasons. People visit Maine, but few move here because the winters frighten them - and we like it that way!

I would still like to visit the west every year, because part of my heart will always be there; but only part. The rest of my heart is now in Maine, in our cozy little house in the woods, surrounded by trees that block the view, blue skies only about half the time, and humid air in summer and frigid temps in winter. I love our small town, our clean environment, and our practical people. I love that we can personally know those running for state government, because they are our neighbors and they go to our church.

Yes, I think I'd like to stay in Maine forever - just don't tell my husband, because he'll only say, "I told you so."

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

02 August 2006

Catching up... and staying cool...

Well, there have been no entries here since the early Spring - - but let's face it, this is a great time of year to be outside in Maine, so I'll use that excuse. And now, with the painfully hot weather we're having, and temperatures today expected to come frighteningly close to the 100 degree mark, I'm finding that time indoors at the computer is a bit more appealing.

My mom came for a visit from the southwestern part of the United States. She keeps telling me that whoever said that Maine is cool in the summertime was a liar. But those of us who live here know she's wrong. Sure, it's hot right now, but look at the temps across the rest of the country (well over 100 degrees in Chicago, Washington, New York, and we won't even talk about Florida) and we can all see that Maine is, indeed, cooler. Plus, lest we forget, three days ago we woke up to temps in the low 50s.

Even on these hot and humid summer days when the only places to be are in air conditioned buildings or in water, we know that tomorrow, when it's still in the upper 90s in many places, Maine will be back down in the 70s... because, as we all know, this is the way life should be.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

28 March 2006

Spring Tease!

When we first moved to Maine, our friendly real estate agent told us that sometime in March each year, there would be a bout of fine, warm, sunny weather; but she told us not to be fooled. She said that we shouldn't believe it's spring until the forsythias bloom.

Is this week one of those weeks? Yesterday and today have been simply heavenly. With temperatures in the mid 50s, abundant sunshine, and blue skies, I'd like to think spring is here. No, there is no evidence of activity on our resident forsythia bush, but it looks as though it's thinking about it.

We took advantage of the sunshine today and began our annual spring clean up of the yard. We bagged leaves and yard debris that we missed in the fall, or that found its way into our yard over the winter. With countless oak trees on the lawn, and woodlands surrounding our home, we have our fair share of debris.

Although we found ourselves a bit winded by the raking, the fresh air and sunshine was therapeutic, as was the talk about what to plant, where to set up the trampoline, and all the outdoor barbecues we'll soon be having.

So maybe this is just a tease. Warm temps are in the forecast for the remainder of the week. Maybe we'll have more snow, and we're sure to have more cold weather - after all, the almanac warns us not to plant anything until Memorial Day, because of the frost danger. Still, we Mainers have learned to take advantage of the sunshine. We'll get out there while we can, and when the cold returns, as it surely will, we'll hunker down and wait for the real thing.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

24 February 2006

Seth Wescott - Mainer - Olympic Champion

Seth Wescott is a guy from Farmington, Maine, who spends much of his time on the slopes and at the base of Sugarloaf USA - one of Maine's top ski areas. Seth and some friends opened a restaurant on the Sugarloaf access road and at age 29, Seth is simply a local Maine resident who gets along well with the community and enjoys the snowy Maine winters.

Yet, in case you haven't been paying attention, Seth Wescott is much more. Last week, Seth received the gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics for Snowboard Cross.

Making its Olympic debut in Torino this year, snowboard cross is a pack-style race that has been likened to BMX biking. Snowboarders carve their way down a course at high speed, making jumps and turns all along the way, avoiding collisions with each other in the process. While some traditionalist skiers still scoff at snowboarding as a main stream sport, snowboarders have shown that they are more than the "stereotypical punks of the slopes." Snowboarders are dedicated athletes and Seth Wescott is now their king.

If you'll be in Maine tomorrow, take a drive up to Sugarloaf to meet the snowboard cross king. Seth Wescott will be given a much deserved hero's welcome as he comes home to Sugarloaf, Maine. There you can hear from Seth, watch a snowboard cross presentation, and even try it for yourself. For more information, visit All Info About Maine.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

14 February 2006

Never Enough

If you're from anywhere in the Northeast, or if you're not, but you were paying attention, you know that quite a major snowstorm roared up the East Coast and through New England this last weekend. New York broke all sorts of snow records, and people were digging out from Washington, D.C. to north of Boston.

That's how Maine is referred to on the National News - "north of Boston," or "Boston and points north." We don't mind.

However, my husband says that we got jipped during this last storm. He is a snow-lover, having spent his college years in Rochester, New York, complete with weeks and weeks of lake-effect snow each winter. Here in Maine, if we get less than 10 inches of snow in one storm, he says it's not enough.

What's worse, according to my snow-connoisseur, is that areas SOUTH of us got more snow. There simply has to be something geographically and meteorologically wrong with that.

In this last storm, the Maine coast was forecasted to get 8-14 inches. Then it was downgraded to 6-10 inches. In the end, we did have about 6 inches accumulate, and as my husband said, "we got jipped."

Still, according to the groundhog, we still have a few weeks of winter left, so there's time.

As for me, don't tell my husband this, but I thought 6-inches of snow was just enough. It made everything pretty, but didn't cause too many headaches. Besides, it's the middle of February. At this time of the year, most Mainers are a little winter-weary and we're beginning to have fantansies about an early Spring. Like I said, only a few more weeks...

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

24 January 2006

Wintertime

Well, last week we were all given a little reprieve from our usual frigid winter weather. The temperatures were in the 50s in many places around Maine, and most of the snow melted from the coast to the mountains. Ice fishing shacks were taken off the rivers and lakes, snowmobiles were stopped cold, and ice skaters left their skates hanging on hooks in the cellar.

Mainers took to the streets during this unusual weather. Joggers could be seen wearing shorts and townspeople strolled around their yards, raking leaves that were covered by December snows, and talking to neighbors they usually wouldn't see outside until April. Children flocked to playgrounds and windows were even opened to freshen up homes and businesses from the stagnant indoor winter air.

All over the state, Mainers have felt the crunch of higher heating oil prices, so the warm weather was welcome in the financial regard as well. Woodstoves were allowed to smolder down to embers and heaters were turned off during the day, and sometimes even at night. People all over the area had a spring in their step and didn't even mind the heavy rains. At least it wasn't cold and snowy.

We in Maine love our snow and many of us find a certain cozy mystique in the blowing of the winter winds. But we also crave sunshine and warmth at this time of year. It is an interesting dichotomy: the snow is cold, messy and tiresome, but it provides a brightness to cover the dull, dead, winter landscape. Many Mainers have a love/hate relationship with the snow.

As of today, we've been given a gift of both - pretty snow, and abundant sunshine. The snow fell all day yesterday, but today we awakened to blue skies and trees that look like they'd been covered with cake frosting. It is days such as these that remind us why we say that Maine is the way life should be!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

01 January 2006

Happy New Year

The clock has turned midnight and it is 2006 in the Pine Tree State.

Blessings in the new year to everyone!

Copyright © 2005 - Paulla Estes