I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I need people to complain (at least once) about a place before I believe it’s rad, but it’s why I’ve always been skeptical of Maine. The state can do no wrong. Plus, it puts weird spells on type-A people. When I was growing up, a friend went to Maine and came back brainwashed, talking about a beach where she wore boat shoes, went clam digging, and ate lobsters. (All things she could have done in Torrance, California, mind you. But in Maine she wanted to.) And in New York, nobody thinks Maine is just OK. They luuuuve Maine and want to drop everything, move there, and become a new person. Which no one ever says about, say, Massachusetts, although it’s also a lovely coastal state. And Presidents, who can vacation anywhere, always pick Maine.
The workplace of the lobsterman.
But now I totally get it! Last weekend I went to the fishing village of Sorrento, Maine (population year-round: 290). It has a library, a dentist’s office, a lobster pound, and my dear friend Rachel. And now I’m going to be one of those cult-y people whenever Maine comes up in conversation. Beware. Below are a few reasons why.
1. Meeting Bud the lobsterman. Lucky for me, Rachel predicted we’d love going out on a boat with a lobsterman. An astute prognosis because, left to my own devices, the closest I ever get to nature is when a cab driver takes the FDR. Yet it was an amazing time. The lobsterman, Bud, was nice enough to let us hang out on his boat while he hauled traps, stuffed bait bags, tossed back lobsters (you know, did real work)—even though we peppered him with sincere-but-inane questions about his life, like do you like to eat lobster? (Only if it’s fried with “buttah” and condensed milk and served on toast.) Like a professional athlete, Bud made it all look easy.
2. Dear President Obama: Maine’s not paradise all the time. The First Family was vacationing in Maine the same time we were. Neat. I hope the President saw the local paper, The Ellsworth American, because there was a good op-ed to him. The gist was “don’t be fooled by the beauty of this place on a sunny weekend in July when tourism is booming… It’s hard to live here. The weather’s rough, most of the jobs are seasonal, and we scrape by many months of the year.” Noted. Not that they were addressing me. But noted.
3. Who knew I love non-fiction books about lobsters? Not me. If you’d told me a month ago that I’d be really into non-fiction books about crustaceans, I’d have thought it was a weirdly specific joke. But Maine does curious things to a gal. I devoured The Lobster Chronicles (a memoir about a lady lobsterman named Linda Greenlaw). And I now I can’t put down The Secret Life of Lobsters. And this is after reading The Lobster Coast.
4. I was like, a real locavore. When it comes to “eating with a low carbon footprint,” I am heavy on the guilt, light on the local. (Mangoes, anyone?) Not so in Maine! Rachel (who I am now convinced can do anything—did I mention she’s a physician?) went into her backyard (aka “the sea”) and got mussels. IN A PAIL! So cute. And then she showed me how to clean them. And then she made dinner!
5. I am off to scratch myself. All that hiking, being-on-a-boating and blueberry picking means I’m covered in mosquito bites. But they are mosquito bites from Maine!
Eric took this. He now luuuuuves Maine.
Linda Greenlaw. Lady lobsterman. Great writer.