One day last week I threw my camera in the front seat and took a drive. It felt like a Colorado day – blue-sky-sunshine – except a lot colder. Driving alongside the Penobscot River, where ice chunks clattered against each other as they raced towards the Atlantic, I came upon the little town of Bucksport.
The drive through Bucksport’s downtown, four blocks long, took about twenty seconds during which time I caught sight of a Chinese buffet, antique shop, a coffee joint, and a scaled-down version of the local Maine grocery store, Hannaford. Also in attendance – and this is definitely a “Maine thing” – Dunkin’ Donuts (their spelling, not mine). Now, I know that Dunkin’ Donuts has chains in other states, but people talk about Dunkin’ Donuts here like it’s the-place-to-be/thing-to-do: “Let’s go get a Dunkin'”, they say. I have yet to “get a Dunkin'” – will disclose a full report upon doing so, though.
So, these small, quaint (some more so than others) towns like Bucksport are scattered across Maine from the banks of the Penobscot River, further west into the Maine mountains, and northward into “The County” (the giant county of northern Maine, Aroostook) towards Canada. They are dots on a map which sometimes translate to a single ramshackle town hall, the bees-knees back in ’62 (1862). Others are more vibrant, filled with little novelty stores – coin shops, rock shops, knick-knacks for tourists, etc.
Right now, Maine feels like its asleep – it’s quiet, there’s not many people out and about, and it’s really cold. I have heard several people say, “just wait ’til summer” – when the tourists and Fair-Weather-Residents return to enjoy. So for now, the antique and rock shops sit quietly on the side of the road, closed up tight against the onslaught of winter.
Although the craggy mountains and wide open spaces that we love so much are absent from its landscape, Maine has its own brand of wildness: trees galore, rocky seaside cliffs, soft, undulating hills, and, when you can get it, a pretty fabulous view. We’ve been finding ourselves driving around trying to get the lay of the land and looking for a vista. Whenever we think we’re heading north, we’re actually going east; sure we’re heading west towards bangor and we’re somehow magically on our way south – it’s really easy to get turned around with no Grand Mesa or Mt. Sneffels to point out the way.
In all of our day trips, we managed to find a great set of trails close to our house in Dedham!