adidas original joggers A Southerner Bids Adieu to Maine
As a native Virginian, I have endured three years of self imposed exile in the Yankee wilds of coastal Maine.
I’ve lived (barely) through three ghastly Maine winters including the now infamous Dark Months of 2013/2014 during which the snows began in October and didn’t end until May. The vestiges of ice heaves and pot holes in the roadways are still life threatening hazards in these early days of July. It was so bad that the Mainiacs are still hollerin’ about their need to “un thaw” from its ferocity.
I still have ringing in my ears such confusing Mainah argots as “ah yuh” for yes, “frappe” for a milkshake, “greasey” for icy or slick, and “Summah” for those one or two days in August when the locals flock to Wal Mart like a herd of “swampdonkeys” (aka moose) to cool off.
As a native Virginian, mostly I’ve missed fried chicken. If you ever travel through the North Country, and someone declares a particular establishment as a place to secure authentic Southern Fried Chicken, run like Hell. It ain’t. It won’t be. It won’t ever be. Genuine (as in “Gin you wine”) fried chicken can only be had south of the Mason Dixon Line, and we Southerners don’t call it “Southern Fried Chicken.” It’s just fried chicken. Period. Anything else from anywhere else is some other kind of chicken recipe, and no doubt a poor substitute at best. And can you really be sure it’s chicken?
So I’ve had enough of Maine for a good long while. Good Lord, I’ve endured a hurricane, a handful of “Nor’Easters,” and even an earthquake. The rocks along the Maine coastline are still scored by the tracks of long ago glaciers. What does that tell you about the average temperature up North over the past 10,000 years?
I’m heading home. To Virginia.
I’m going back to the Great Commonwealth where we Southerners put our principles on the state flag. What other ensign in the Republic (I dare not say “Union”) shows Virtus, a deity of bravery and military strength, standing in a triumphant pose over a personified tyranny with his fallen crown in a battle already won? “Sic semper tyrannis,” or “Thus always to tyrants.”
What does Maine have on its flag? A moose under a pine tree. I like moose (good venison), and I like White Pines; but fuzzy and piney don’t compare to a defeated tyrant. territorial, and Canadian provincial flags surveyed. By the way, vexillology is the scientific study of flags. Gosh, there’s a name for everything, eh?
Why not about a lighthouse instead? Or why not a lobster, blueberries, sugar maples, and clam chowder on Maine’s flag? Now that would make a lip smacking point for eager tourists!
Please don’t misunderstand me. During my three years in exile, I met some wonderful folks. Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus. Farmers, bankers, entrepreneurs, conservationists, professors, doctors, housewives. Great people from great ethnic backgrounds. But I hardly ever viewed them, singularly or collectively, as Mainers and most were transplants anyway. Few ever self identified as native born.
In the South, on the other hand, you KNOW when you’ve met a native born Southerner. You just know. That identity oozes from our pores, and it’s thick in the accent and attitude.
Another thing I don’t understand. So far as I could tell, Mainers hardly ever associate their handshake with their word of honor. Until a contract is signed, sealed, and delivered by the Lord God Almighty Come Down from Sinai (or one of His major prophets), then one can promise, postpone, equivocate, divert, cancel, delay, quibble, fudge, excuse, evade, prevaricate, hedge, dither, and beat around the bush until the cows come home. (Pardon my mixing metaphors.) In other words, it’s not a crime to take back your word, even without consultation, until the ink’s dried on the paper. And even then, Yankee wisdom can bend the law like a prism curves white light into all sorts of pretty colors.
In the South, your handshake is your God given guarantee. Violating that trust will get you into a heap of trouble, especially with your Daddy out behind the wood shed. Retribution in the South can be swift, merciful, and on par with the rank of the sin in question. Then it’s over and done with.
Yes, sir. Carry me back to ole’ Virginny.
After three years mind you, a time also filled with wonder, grace, and loveliness it’s time for this good ole’ boy, a 10th generation Virginian, to end his exile and walk back like a prodigal son to the Mother of All States. The home of the first English settlement in North America, no matter how snippy that OTHER Commonwealth, also known as Massachusetts, gets about their late comer Plymouth Colony.
In sum, then, it’s been expensive, cold, and remote living in Maine with many residents hard wired for aloofness and near clinical brevity. In Maine, you could live in a place for 3 years or 30 years without knowing the first name of your next door neighbor. It’s time to return to the front porch culture of the South where folks sit with each other, share a pleasurable repast, and chat about the weather.
As a friend told me, “I’m an American by birth, a Southerner by God’s grace.”
Ah, Virginia. Roots. Rich, loamy soils. Blue ridges, skyline drives, green piedmont, and valleys as wide as God’s smile. And hotter than hinges in August. Adieu, Maine. By the grace of God, adieu and forward.