Monday, March 2, 2009

Guest Blog: Maine In February

I'm excited to introduce you to my second ever guest blogger, my mother! If you're a frequent reader of Seven Presidents, her reputation precedes her. So you know when she says she feels intimidated, she's one of those kids you went to school with who always said they were going to fail the test and then got the best grade in the class. But I will say this: many guest blogger invitations have been given, only 2 have been accepted. Mom really anted up with her multi-media post -- be sure not to miss the link to the fabulous video at the very end. Hopefully this will be the first of many "Dispatches from the corner of Roosevelt" to come!

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The blog master thought it might be fun to hear first-hand about the wonders of Maine in February. I thought it would be fun to fill in for my daughter and healthy to get over feeling too intimidated to sub for such a keen observer and good writer. 

But to the subject at hand: Maine in February. I was in Orono last week visiting my brother and sister-in-law. Orono is near Bangor, about 3 hours mostly due north of the New Hampshire border. It’s home to UMaine’s flagship campus. It’s where the North Woods begin. When we arrived, 30 inches or more of snow covered the ground. While we were there, 20 more fell. The icicles hanging from the roof were a yard long, and the ice piled on the roof above them was a foot high. 

We were there by choice. And we don’t ski, snow-mobile, ice-fish, or moose hunt. 

So what’s the appeal? Maine’s PR slogan used to be “The way life should be.” (They have changed to something like “Worth a vacation. Worth a lifetime.” Unfortunate move.) The old one sums it up for me. To those heading south in February, I guess the way life should be is “warm and sunny.”  I’m a sucker for “brisk, beautiful, and real.”

Someone told me (I think it was on a visit to Maine during black-fly season) that he loved Maine because the severity of the conditions was a self-sorting filter that kept the faint-hearted away. 

There’s something authentic about the place. Something noble about the stoicism and practicality with which people take on the conditions. Something reassuring about the value Mainers put on--not what they own--but where they’re from. Look around. That forest primeval--the murmuring pines laden in snow. Silent beyond a Jersey girl’s imaging. Night skies better than the planetarium. Majestic. Real. I can’t help it. I love it.

On this trip, there was the ice sculpting contest along the banks of the Penobscot . The chowder cook-off at the Muddy Rudder. The lobster rolls at the biker bar. And best of all, the ride through the pristine snow, over the covered bridge. along the old mill stream, on the horse-drawn sleigh. 

I love antiquing in Maine. Sifting through the old toys, kitchen stuff, and furniture is a stroll down memory lane. (Did I mention I grew up in New England?) This sleigh ride touched memories of things heard of but never experienced: “Dashing through the snow...Bells on bob-tail ring.”  These massive horses (picture the Budweiser SuperBowl commercials) were work animals. Not Clydesdales, but Belgians. For a few Sundays a year, they pull visitors through the woods, but the rest of the time, they work in the woods, pulling felled trees out of the forest. Our sleigh driver was their owner. A true Mainer who spent the 3 or 4 miles we rode telling loving tales of the personalities of his horses--including those pulling us through the snow. He described one mare, who had had enough of showing off for the visitors during a summer stint at this same old village park and just made her way back to the barn and stayed put. “Horse of a habit,” he called her with admiration and acceptance.

Admiration and acceptance. That about sums it up.  

Click Here for a wonderful short video of the sleigh ride. 

1 comment:

sevprez said...

love the photos. those snowy trees, that blue sky, that big horse. the perfect post to get us ready for our trip on wednesday.

we should really go to work for the maine department of tourism. : )