The seed was planted in 2007 when I visited Maine with my mother, sister and niece from the prairie lands of Kansas. Maine, tucked way up there in the hinterlands, just seemed like an exotic location.

Despite only one day of sunshine and an abundance of drizzle on our vacation, I tucked away happy memories that stuck like Super Glue, and I vowed to return.

In fact, I did more than that. In 2014, I actually moved to South Portland with my willing partner, Andy, who actually found employment! At the age of 60 I no longer wanted to dabble in dreams; I wanted to dive headlong into them.

Maine, after all, has something – charm, charisma, mystery, magic … something for which the perfect word hasn’t been invented. That “thing” just seems to grab hold and flow into your soul. All of a sudden you’re a goner – in a good way. And I know I’m not the only one to succumb.

I still need to pinch myself as I cross the Casco Bay Bridge or visit my waterfront grocery store. Hiking trails abound – trailheads are often unexpectedly discovered or divulged by savvy locals who seem to know the best secrets (like where to get the perfect lobster roll at the cheapest price, or where to find a great parking spot in downtown Portland).

There are little jewels of beaches, clear lakes big and small and people who will gladly loan you their kayak or canoe for a couple of hours. And we no longer have to drive nine hours to see the mountains! Colorado, of course, has some lovely Papa Bear-sized peaks, but Maine’s Mama Bear-sized mountains are not nearly as intimidating – though I have yet to visit Katahdin. And I do mean visit – not climb. I feel the pride of climbing up lovely and somewhat challenging Tumbledown, and that will do just fine.

But it’s more than this beautiful piece of earth. It’s the people and that magical network that create such an inviting community. Literally! Near strangers have invited Andy and me to dinners, events, book clubs, tango classes and community fairs. I’m even part of a Spanish conversation group that meets Wednesday mornings at a coffee shop. Someone from yoga invited me to that.

It seems here that if you make one friend, you end up with five. People take time to chat, give advice (like where I would most likely spot a moose or a loon), and they spontaneously invite you to coffee after an aerobics class at the community center. Crazy!

That tiny seed planted nearly 10 years ago has grown to a lovely white pine, and I’m basking in its shade, with my DeLorme atlas, ready for my next Maine adventure. Thank you, Maine, for welcoming me home!

 


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