Janine Talbot

Janine Talbot

Now that we’re approaching the first summer-ish holiday, New Englanders know the real thing is just around the corner. You can almost taste it — or maybe you already have, since local ice cream shops have been popping up at the same frequency as potholes. You can smell it in freshly cut grass that mercifully replaces the sound of freshly plowed snow.

There are some things we can count on year after year as Mainers.

Visitors will think we eat lobster several times a week, all year round.

The price of gasoline will rise along with the temperatures.

Cruise ships will carry on with carrying passengers to Maine shores, where they will enjoy lobster and clam chowder and return home with anything from key chains to cutting boards shaped to look like our great state.

Our favorite local diners will always stay open only until early afternoon and won’t waste their time on the dinner crowd.

I’ve noticed a few things have changed since we moved here 20 years ago (yes, I am from away, don’t judge).

Remember when the exit numbers didn’t match the mile markers on the highway? I remember thinking that we already passed Exit 4 and wondering why we were experiencing a deja exit vu. Directions are a lot easier now, though you can no longer convince anyone that Exit 227 isn’t all that far.

What about when you could easily find a Governor’s Restaurant? Now there’s not a one south of Lewiston. My heart breaks a little to think that a restaurant with the theme “Eat Dessert First” is not within easy reach to everyone.

The mall is the most obvious place for change. I swear every time I go in that big, scary place the stores I’ve just become familiar with have transitioned into some other type of retailer that has nothing to do with my style. If I had a style, that is.

Paper bags have changed… well, they’ve changed back, technically. When we first moved to Maine your choice was paper or plastic, and then suddenly they weren’t asking you anymore. It was assumed plastic was the chosen option. After several years of assuming (come on, like they never heard the line about what happens when you “assume”), retailers and — you know, mankind in general — have concluded that plastic is a bad choice. Somebody finally watched the movie Wall-E.

When we moved to our Maine home we were awed by the small town feel of even the largest cities. We stumbled into things that didn’t exist anywhere near our old home — Halloween parades, winter festivals (who knew a “snowdeo” was a thing?), balloon fests, and concerts everywhere you looked (if a town has any kind of a park, there will be a musician). But the fun doesn’t get old because Mainers are always thinking up new ways to let loose. This past January, during a lull in foot-high flakes, we joined other rubberneckers to witness the very first t-rex gathering in Portland. Not the real thing – that would have been messy (and hard to explain).

The chance to do something different was and still is everywhere in Maine. That won’t change, even if the format or location does. Let’s consider ourselves lucky that way.

Janine Talbot recently published a story about her first kiss in “Laugh Out Loud: 40 Women Humorists Celebrate Then and Now… Before We Forget,” available through Amazon. She lives in southern Maine. Email Janine at [email protected]

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