In Praise of Maine

In Praise of Maine

In Praise of Maine

Words by Heather Caulfield Mills
Photos by Jenn Bakos

We were standing where there was a fine view of the harbor and its long stretches of shore all covered by the great army of the pointed firs, darkly cloaked and standing as if they waited to embark. As we looked far seaward among the outer islands, the trees seemed to march seaward still, going steadily over the heights and down to the water’s edge.
— Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs, 1896

Maine is a state that seems to have it all: seashores and forests, historic villages and remote wilderness. It’s a place where you can find solitude, or run into your neighbor from back home. Like many who grew up in land– locked Vermont, my family has made an annual pilgrimage to Maine since the 1950’s. I feel a deep nostalgia for my favorite haunts, as one can only feel for a childhood place. We still return year after year, set on visiting the same places and finding new and unimagined treasures.

In Maine, there is a rugged beauty of endless texture and color to be discovered — from rocky coastlines and weathered grey clapboards, to smooth sea glass and the cool pearlescence of creatureless shells. Maine is a great place for outdoor adventures such as camping along the Appalachian Trail, skiing in the mountains, or sea kayaking. You can walk wave–smacked cliffs and clamber over rocks with the gulls, or visit historic houses–turned–museums where eminent Maine–folk like Sarah Orne Jewett once lived. Check the life- guard station for the water temperature before wading briefly into the icy sea, then dash back to the comfort of a good book, a sun-warmed beach towel, and hot cocoa from a nearby surf shop. Bask in the calm of tidal pools and dark stands of fir trees.

Maine offers homemade ice cream and saltwater taffy, blueberries, incredible seafood, and farm-stand vegetables. A variety of smells waft on the breeze: fishing wharves, wet seaweed, and the leaves carpeting forest floors. Breathe in the sun block amidst armies of beach umbrellas and water–logged children. Bend to smell the lush scent of wild roses that grow in impossible places.

I love the sounds of seabirds, rustling grasses, and foghorns. I like spotting surfers — just tiny dots on a faraway wave. I like noting the tides as the ocean creeps up the beach toward snoozing sunbathers. I love to watch families spend hours fortifying an intricate sandcastle, and then wait for it to crumble, then fall, then be swept away.

I love to stand at the outer edges of waves and feel the wet earth shift under my weight.

I love to say goodbye to Maine each summer so I can go back again next year.