Mainers are a self-sufficient bunch. I suppose that’s what happens when you live in a state that offers just about everything that most Americans travel around the country for — mountains, beaches, backwoods, vibrant cities, you name it. We’ve developed a set of skills, let’s call them superpowers, that allow us to live and thrive up here. Here are ten superpowers people from Maine have over everyone else.
1. How to navigate backroads
I recently traveled to Costa Rica with my best friend. As we went further and further down the Nicoya Peninsula, passing through towns that grew smaller with every turn, we just kept repeating out loud — thank God we grew up where we did! People from Maine know all about back roads, after years of chasing that little-known peak or finding that secret swimming hole. Get the four-wheel drive. And try to avoid mud season.
2. How to unplug
Whether heading to camp, or out in the boat, or just to your friend’s house in the next town over where the population is just over 500 — signal is spotty at best. Most of those destinations — camp or boat or the deep North Woods — are better experienced without cell service anyway. Even visiting your friend can be more enriching without a device. We’d just as soon leave the cell phone at home, or back in the car across the lake, or lost at the bottom of your backpack — Maine is better without cell service.
3. How to own a snowstorm
If a big Nor’easter is on its way, you can bet that the office will be closed and your boss will be preparing for the storm just like you are — by stocking up on the Allen’s, making a big batch of homemade mac ‘n’ cheese and hunkering down. At some point, after sleeping in late, downing some blueberry pancakes with the end of last year’s syrup stash, and flipping through an Uncle Henry’s for a while — you will inevitably bundle up and head out for snowshoeing, or skiing, or just to shovel the driveway. If there’s any less than a foot of snow to clear off the deck, business will happen as usual.
4. Same goes for summer
When the aforementioned nor’easters have subsided and the last layer of mud is washed from our vehicles, we are fully ready to just focus on soaking up as much sun as possible before the leaves start dropping in September. To really understand an appreciation for the warmth of summer, just come live in Maine for a couple years. With boating, hiking and swimming, or just propping open a lawn chair in the sun-bathed dooryard — we know how to own the summer. Why do you think we got the title of Vacationland?
5. How to pick a lobster
Even those of us who live inland know how to eat a lobster. No soft shell needed — just grab a kitchen towel and a bowl of melted butter and call it dinnah. We’re not just talking about the tail meat either. If you really want to nail some Mainer skills, order a whole one and go to town.
6. How to return something at L.L. Bean
Our famous outdoor gear supplier had a lifetime guarantee return policy (until a few weeks ago) and we know how to use it. Not that we would ever take advantage, but if that down jacket is starting to molt, we beeline it to Freeport. When you’re up against the sometimes brutal elements of the north, you need the layers that will stand the test, and no one makes them better than L.L. Bean.
7. How to rock a bonfire
Bonfires are a regular part of family gatherings. If three or more aunts happen to be visiting in one weekend, there’s nearly a 100% guarantee that my dad will be gathering brush, logs, and an old picnic table for a late night, 20-foot-high fire in the field. And while s’mores and snappers are synonymous with summer campfires, these weekend bonfires serve a different purpose. The focal point of any party, they are for gathering around, for gazing at and for throwing more chunks of wood on from a good distance away — not snuggling in front of on a blanket.
8. And the polar bear plunge
Call us crazy, but we’d prefer our “refreshing” water temperatures to the bathwater of the south any day. Polar bear dips are a common fundraiser around the state, mostly because as soon as you set the date at least 30 people will sign up to participate. Our oceans don’t get much above 50 degrees in the summertime, but that doesn’t stop us from spending our days lounging in the Atlantic waves. While the lakes get to slightly warmer temperatures, it usually doesn’t last long before dropping again with a nighttime chill.
9. How to discuss the weather
Yesterday we were in t-shirts, keeping an eye out for fiddleheads, today we are getting 20 inches of snow. It’s not surprising that we can stand in the produce aisle of Hannafords discussing the weather with whichever former high school teacher we happen to run in to for a solid twenty minutes. Though we can find a lot to disagree on, one thing we all have in common is whatever is going on outside — and you can bet we have something to say about it.
10. How to find a flannel
It’s true that L.L. Bean sells wicked nice ones, and you can find them in most thrift stores, but the best place to find a really good flannel is the back of your grandpa’s closet. They are the ones that will have an old fading label hand stitched at the neckline, a couple of mismatched buttons where your grandma had to replace them, and a softness that can’t be store bought. Regardless of the season, or the temperature, it is always a good time to snuggle into your grandpa’s old flannel. You might want to toss the hankie in the breast pocket though.