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