Up until now, when asked where I’m from, I respond with the candor of a politician, “The last place I had an address is Alameda, Ca.”
I’ve been looking forward to newer, bluer highways. For three years my lust for snaky wanderings have called me ever eastward. But it is time to admit two California decades is sufficient.
Although not ready to commit to a new place to call home, I have been on the lookout for a place to call home base. And Maine has emerged as a finalist.
The Jolly Swag has a new set of license plates and I have a new voter registration card.
Maine has much to recommend it, especially in July and August and most of June and September. Mild days and cool nights, unrivalled scenery, sprawling forests, and a coastline as inviting as it is treacherous.
The people’s politics are still a mystery to me. But what I know is that there are more registered Independents than either Democrats or Republicans. Senator Angus King was elected as an Independent. Yet this is the state that garnered the most votes for Ron Paul and elected a Tea Party governor.
Maine is the only state people retire northward to.
And it has Mainers. There are fewer Mainers than the population of Alameda County (Oakland and Berkeley). Mainers are a hardy sort. I saw people wearing shorts and tee-shirts on many days that I sported thermal underwear.
When Mainers give out phone numbers, they never mention the area code because there is only one—207.
Aroostook, Maine’s northernmost county, is known simply as The County. It is the largest county in the East, and is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Because of its remoteness and a perceived lack of connection with Maine government, as well as a strong connection with neighboring Canada, county politicians have proposed making Aroostook part of New Brunswick or spinning off the county as its own state.
Near my Maine home base in South Freeport is a small herd of belted cows, a rare breed in the US with fewer than 200 registered.
Finally, southing on I-95 on Tuesday past, I stopped at the last toll booth. As he collected my fare, the toll taker asked me if I had a four-legged friend on board. Not sure I heard him correctly over the traffic noise I asked him to repeat.
He held up a dog biscuit.
It was as friendly a good-bye to Maine as any hello could be.