I was born and raised in Massachusetts and spent a few weeks several summers in a row at a friend’s grandparents house on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine. Then I spent the next decade slowly working my way down the east coast - first to Rhode Island to college - then to Manhattan for my first job on Wall Street. I eventually met – and married – my Navy husband and spent a few years in Pensacola, Florida, then we moved to Virginia where he retired from the Navy base in Norfolk.
And then it was time to head back north. I didn’t realize just how much I had missed New England until we got back here a year and a half ago. Unless you have had six generations of family living in Maine, you'll always be referred to as being "from away", but we really feel like we've come home, so I thought I would share some observations about the state of Maine – from a new transplant.
1. Fresh, live lobsters will only set you back about $6.99 a pound at the grocery store. That alone is good enough reason to consider moving to Maine! But you can order lobster pretty much anywhere. Even if you don’t see it on the menu, likely the chef will have a stash tucked out back and can still steam or boil one for you. Nearly every restaurant has some variation (or several) of a lobster dish on their menu, and you can order lobster rolls at McDonald's, the subway shop, supermarkets, any number of roadside shacks - even the local ice cream stand.
Speaking of ice cream, if you’re in Bar Harbor, you can even try a lobster ice cream cone from Ben & Bill’s (which, by the way, is really quite good)! I’ve had lobster prepared every which way these last few months – I’ve even had lobster sushi rolls.
2. Any parking lot you drive into will look like a Subaru used car lot. I don’t know the statistics as to what percentage of Mainers drive Subaru’s, but it’s got to be pretty high. I don’t think we’ve ever gone anywhere without passing at least one Subaru on the road. They’re everywhere. And with good reason. Our Subaru Outback is awesome in the rain and snow, it gets great gas mileage, and has plenty of room for us, our dogs, and any number of other things we need to stash for a trip across town or across the state.
3. Whenever you’re hanging out with a group of Mainers, you’ll think you’re filming an L.L.Bean commercial. On any given day, I think most people from here wake up, roll out of bed, shower, and then open their closet – which looks like a mini L.L.Bean outlet – and pick out some combination of wool socks, plaid shirt, sweatshirt, barn jacket and ball cap adorned with the famous logo, before pulling on a pair of quintessential Bean boots. There’s a reason why L.L.Bean is located in Maine and a reason why Mainers wear their stuff. It’s warm, well-made, classic, and accepted attire everywhere in the state from a 5-star restaurant to the gas station. (And anyone not wearing L.L.Bean is probably decked out in Carhartt.)
4. Just because the calendar says “spring” doesn’t mean that it won’t snow – several more times, probably – before spring actually arrives to the state.
5. Just because the calendar says "spring" doesn't mean you should start seedlings in the house (trust me on this one!). And you really do need to wait until Memorial Day to plant anything outside. When I was gardening in New York, Mother’s Day was the rule of thumb date to start planting outside. Here in Maine, that’s been pushed back to Memorial Day. But on the upside, the summer days are longer here in the more northern Maine latitude and stuff grows really, really fast in the summer. Like you can practically sit in your garden and watch vegetables ripen.
6. Mud really is a season. Enough said.
7. There’s also black fly season when apparently no on will want to come visit you, but last year wasn't bad. I’ll keep you posted on that.
8. Everybody raises chickens. From our UPS driver, to our mail carrier, from our realtor to the state policeman we met recently, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a flock of chickens. We can’t even GIVE our eggs away! And anytime we go anywhere, I’m always craning my neck to peek into backyards to see if there are chickens. And I always manage to spot a few flocks. I’m sure I drive my husband nuts…”Oh, look chickens!”…”Chickens! Back there – see them?”…”Look they have chickens!”…”Oh, cute coop, and CHICKENS!”…”They have chickens!”….”Oh, oh chickens!”….”More chickens! Look!”
9. Adding Allen’s Coffee Brandy to your morning coffee is not only acceptable, but I believe it’s encouraged. For those who aren’t familiar with it, its a coffee-flavored liqueur popular throughout New England, but especially in Maine.They actually sell the stuff at the grocery store! And it’s been the top-selling alcoholic beverage in the state for over 20 years. In fact in 2008, 1.1 million bottles were sold in Maine – a state with a population of just 1.3 million people – which means that Mainers consumed nearly one bottle of Allen’s Coffee Brandy for every man, woman, and child in the state (Wikipedia.com).
10. Mainers are some of the most generous, down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. They love their state and are proud to share their knowledge, advice or venison steaks from the deer they shot last hunting season (to free up space in their freezer for this year’s meat!)
I’m sure there are tons more reasons to enjoy living in Maine that we just haven’t learned yet. If you have any suggestions as to places we should visit, food we should eat, or things we should do, please let me know! As you can imagine, we’ve really enjoyed our first year and a half here in Maine and look forward to enjoying many more years to come! Moving to Maine is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Even though we have yet to see a single moose!