I am not from here. I've only lived in Maine a short while, but there are more than a few things I've come to learn and love during my brief tenure as a citizen of this great state. I'd like to think my arrival happened organically, because it was supposed to. It started a long time ago, like there was a little bird present at my birth whose flight I followed from Florida to Connecticut, eventually leading me to this northernmost and easternmost coast. I feel content but not complacent here; I suspect I am finally home.
When you've been elsewhere for a while and return to Maine you can expect to be received as a prodigal son or daughter. Once you are loved here you will always be welcomed back with joyful resignation, a collective character trait that turns out to be the most sincere form of family. The Mainers I know are plain spoken and sober, with a dry wit and deep connection to this place they don't call Vacationland.
On my first Fourth of July back in the U.S., after half a decade living abroad, I was invited to a lobster feed in a backyard near Damariscotta - a sleepy, pretty village of the Mid-Coast. In the tall grass under apple trees, a makeshift table was constructed from card tables and covered with brown butcher paper. For each guest a yellow bait bag was stuffed with steamed clams that undulate from their springy black necks as you let them linger in liquid butter. There were sweet mussels with light sienna morsels inside shells, tumbled smooth by icy waters. These unadorned offerings are truly the fruits of the sea.
Then our friends presented the group with a host of bright red lobsters, without fanfare or plastic bibs. You weren't expected to be precious about cracking into your personal crustacean with two hands, though there is etiquette and order. We were each encouraged to have three, at least. "They're small" our hosts proffered, "keep eating," they said. And they meant it.
As a guest you will be treated to the best. The Maine thing, I guess, is getting what's good, and knowing when you're onto something real. Amazing seafood all year round, strawberries for a few fleeting weeks in June, and potatoes all winter, dug up from the earth. What is here is freely shared, and generosity is always abundant.