Two plus months in Maine and there are some definite trends in differences we are noticing as we navigate around the state we now call home.
- Cash or CHECK?? – Yes, really. Square is for squares, apparently. It is more common for eateries and just about anyone else to happily take a check if you don’t have cash. But a card? Fuggedaboutit. Go ahead. Leave home without it. But where the hell is that checkbook anyway?
- You CAN get there from here (any number of ways) – Between our house and Waterville (our nearest “big” town), my parents’ house in Waldo, Unity (our closest place for quick grocery runs, hardware, postal needs, etc), Belfast (bigger town that is like a mini north end Boise, but a seaside New England version), there are several possible numbered routes, a few dirt road “shortcuts”, lots of zigging, zagging, and meandering, road name changes, and not a few hairpin turns, railroad track crossings, and frost heaves…
- …And speaking of frost heaves: A “good road” is (sometimes) hard to find – All these spidery, interconnected routes are subjected to both the ravages of the infamous Maine winter and a lot of heavy trucks that don’t otherwise have a way to get from place to place. Then, of course, there is the added tourist traffic for leaf-peeping season and all the other Maine marvels that make this place Vacationland. Summer road crews scramble to patch things up where the damage is worst and repaint the striping in spite of impatient motorists who will pass five cars in a no-passing zone, ruining the freshly painted lines in the process. Driving in Maine is always an adventure, and Google Maps (which can be notoriously misleading in “normal” places) simply cannot keep up with this maelstrom of motorway mishaps and will often direct you where you are going via roads that are dirt or (worse) start out paved and then just inexplicably become dirt and potholes for a mile or so before the same road changes names for the 18th time and makes you do the driving equivalent of a Triple Axel to stay on it. Needless to say, when you suddenly find yourself cruising down a smooth stretch of blacktop, the reverent words “Good road” invariably fall from your mouth and those of anyone else occupying the vehicle. Ayuh, they do.
- Leave a message (AKA Call the landline?????) – In a less populace, more rural state such as this, people tend to serve multiple functions in a community. Our realtor, for instance, aside from being the most amazing, detail-oriented, can-do, hardworking realtor we’ve ever encountered, also functions as a firefighter and town selectman, as well as having many hobbies, a home to maintain, and an active family and social life. So when you call, for example, B&D Well Service, that B&D isn’t some carryover from whomever started a business that was bought and is now run impersonally by people who don’t even know what the original name stood for. Nope. B&D are often a husband and wife named something like Barbara and Dan and one of them functions as the secretary while the other is out performing service calls. Or else, the business is a one-person operation and you’ll need to leave a message for the sole proprietor, who will likely call you back within the hour IF their number is a cell and it receives a signal wherever they happen to be working. But what has been especially surreal for us, neither of whom has had a landline since probably the late nineties/early 2000s, has been the prevalence (owing largely to the aforementioned unpredictable cell service) of phones connected TO THE WALL in people’s homes. We saw them at every farm we visited last year, but are still trying to weasel our way out of plugging a phone into a jack by any means necessary. Tinny, delayed Google Hangouts calls, for the win!
- Bugs – Newsflash Former Desert Dwellers! Where water and vegetation occur naturally and abundantly, so too will the crawly, buzzy, pesky ilk of the insect world be natural and abundant. Did you know that there is some manner of fly that is obsessed with nothing but circling your head incessantly. No biting. Just buzz, buzzzzzz, buuuuzzzzz, buu-AAAARRRGGHH!!! And my karma for an entire lifetime of being basically impervious to any mosquito I ever met and stating with absolute confidence on many occasions that mosquitoes don’t like me? Maine mosquitoes think I am delicious. Carpenter ants in the floor joists? Check. Every manner of invasive beetle you can imagine? Got ’em! Ah, well, at least there are no mol… What the hell kind of chubby-cat-marmot-thing-with-no-legs dug up my freshly planted garden??? Not technically a “bug”, I know, but that varmint galls the shit out of me.
Just a few observations from our first several weeks here. And you know what? Even I, the kid who hated dirt and had an irrational fear of all things insect until I was well into adulthood, find all of the above charming, endearing, and so wonderfully Maine.