By Peggy DePersia, Guest Blogger
Forgive the play on words but there is just something so rock solid about Maine and her people. My husband and I have made this pilgrimage to Maine, specifically The Wooden Boat School, in Brooklin, Maine five times in the last ten years. The people we encounter, whether shop keepers, boat builders, tourist traders, or ‘locals’ running the town post office or library are friendly and accommodating and generally give the impression that they are prepared to tackle anything you might consider throwing their way. You might even get a story thrown in to boot.
Beautiful Coastline and Ship Building Capital of the World
In addition to the allure of these independent people, often referred to as ‘Mainers’, is the beauty of the stunning coastal land and sea scape that sometimes snakes around and other times buffers such historic towns as Bristol, Bath, Camden, Belfast or Searsport. The history of each town, whether renowned for its wily sea captains from a bygone era, its legendary ship building enterprises, or its protected bays and coves, is embedded in the bones of those who live there and is palpable to those of us who visit. It qualifies as a kind of aura and accommodates not only the ‘so called’ ship building capital of the world (Brooklin, Maine) but also the local general store. Go figure!
Not to be overlooked is Maine’s love of libraries. Who doesn’t love a gem of a library, large or small? When a town of 750 people can boast a prized library of noteworthy volumes, pleasing architectural details and proportions, to say nothing of a mosquito netted gazebo for visitors such as myself to take advantage of its internet service on days it is closed, I’m impressed! I could not have passed a more delightful afternoon than the one spent reading, writing and musing on the lawn of the ‘Friend Memorial Public Library’ in Brooklin, Maine. I planned a stop of thirty minutes and stayed for three hours.
Betsy Sunflower Shop
As if that weren’t enough, there is a wonderful surprise or ‘find’ around virtually every corner one meanders when traveling through the coastal towns of Maine. Take ‘Betsy’s’ for example, a small gift shop in Brooklin that aims for the “functional, fun and affordable” and truly delivers. In addition to the lovely and funky gifts that she avails her customers is the personalized rapport of a small homey shop that would remind one of a cottage, a cottage that boasts a robust herb garden out a series of side windows. The juxtaposition is charming. This and a web site too: betsysunflower.com.
Magical Maine Experience
Another thing I find impressive about, what I will call, the ‘Mainer’ sensibility, is the loyalty of fellow Mainers. They seem to love it that individually and collectively they appreciate one another and their shared Maine-ness. They are proud of their plethora of small town libraries, their abundance of fine artisans and craftsmen, their many renowned shipyards and hearty ship builders and their perceived independence and steely resilience. All of the above can add up to a magical Maine experience.
Peggy recently retired as a high school art teacher and now devotes her time to teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design and living creatively.
They both enjoy travel on or near water and time with their darling grand son Oliver.