For lifelong New Yorkers, moving to Maine was not as easy for my husband and me as we had expected. The cold weather and icy roads were a bit challenging, and the fact that stores shut their doors by 9 o’clock made evening shopping impossible. I could only imagine that anywhere farther north than Portland would mean total isolation in the winters.

Later in the fall, after reading “Eleanor and Hick” in my book group, I suggested that my husband and I venture a bit farther to Campobello Island, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s home near Lubec. As we drove to our destination, we passed several discount stores, lonely houses and fast food chains.

As we entered the front door of our B&B in Lubec, we asked for a recommendation for a place to eat. “You better hurry, they stop serving dinner soon,” we were told. Looking at my watch, I saw it wasn’t even 8 p.m. yet. “I am sure they will at least have hamburgers and beers,” I reassured my husband.

The menu was surprisingly extensive, with warm stews and fresh seafood platters, but the wine list was even more remarkable. One of the bottles of wine on the menu was quite expensive. The owner shared that he bought it for a special guest, someone “well-to-do” who has been very generous to the area. He purchased the wine in New York with the businessman in mind. The owner told us that when the man arrived, he showed off the prized wine. The guest looked at the bottle, smiled and said, “Ah, an old friend; I have several of these already at home,” and proceeded to drink two bottles with pleasure.

The customers were locals who stopped to talk to neighbors at every table before departing.

I asked our young waitress, “So what do you do during the winter, so far away from everything?”

“Well, the restaurant closes, so I pretty much just take classes. It’s pretty quiet here.”

“Where do the locals eat in the winter if this restaurant closes?” I asked, concluding that the townspeople would all be housebound.

“Every Saturday night, the owner opens the restaurant for the town. He doesn’t serve food, but everyone brings something to share. It is like a big potluck dinner. It is the way that people can get together. If Mrs. Baxter doesn’t show up, someone will go check on her Sunday morning. Or if someone knows someone is sick or lonely, we take turns visiting and bringing them something to eat. There are also our church socials, bean dinners, ‘chow down’ chowders, Lions Club breakfasts.”

I could not imagine a New York City restaurant just closing its doors in the winter even on the worst snow days. Come to think of it, I never went to a bean supper, a Lions Club breakfast or had a restaurant hand-pick wine for me. Maybe as new Mainers, we won’t be as isolated after all.

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