Recently, I found myself making a rare tourist season crossing of the Kennebec and running the gauntlet of Route 1  heading toward the Union Fair and Maine Wild Blueberry Festival. Halfway to Wiscasset there was what first appeared to be a classic bumper-to-bumper slog to get past Red’s Eats. But soon all was again clear sailing straight into Maine’s Prettiest Village’s newly reconfigured downtown.  

Still a work in progress, storefront parking had indeed been eliminated and passage was easy as pie. At least, in the direction I was going. The opposite lane was a stop-start line of frustrated drivers extending across the river and all the way to Boothbay’s turnoff. Try as one might, some things defy all solution. The prospect of returning through Wiscasset remained a long familiar DOT nightmare to be avoided at all costs.  

Escaping northward to Waldoboro and a sharp left onto state road 235 would lead to the fairground’s entrance. Moving inland immediately revealed a completely different and more isolated landscape dominated by agriculture. Maine’s distinct Downeast persona quickly assumed a more rural character. Here, nature was something long domesticated and controlled for maximum yield, a lifestyle where man’s dominion remains as right as rain. Each passing expanse of forestry cleared for farming reinforced that takeaway. Urban life’s distant obsession with change has little value to a traditional, generational, and sometimes environmentally disharmonious oneness with nature.  

That dichotomy was displayed throughout the fair. This was no Common Ground politically correct celebration of The Way Life Should Be. There was a complete absence of any hint of environmental politics. One could relax in making America great again and be comfortably unjudged in honoring a Blueberry Queen. Pro-cannabis and pro-Trump T-shirts shared kiosks purveying red, white, and blue clearly leaning red. Food court offerings were unashamedly unhealthy comfort food as American as the apple pie that dared not show its face.  

The greenest thing the fair had to offer was John Deere strutting his stuff along with animal teams of almost equal size and capability. Log homes made their pitch absent any renewable energy concerns. Bee keeping made no mention of neonicatinoid endangerment.  

The animals were amazingly beautiful specimens wondrously beheld at close proximity. The number of species, and varieties within species, was an impressive recommendation of the merits of small scale farming’s diversity as a safeguard against agribusiness’s monoculture threat.  

The animals were all unnaturally caged or short-roped in open stalls. Observing them making the best of their confinement I pondered the difference between husbandry and abuse, and how many supposedly beloved pets really have it only slightly better.  

On the way home we twice passed horse-drawn vehicles seemingly traveling across time as well as distance. Their occupants weren’t part of some special historical reenactment but what still exists every day on a road less traveled. Following that road down through Jefferson, Whitefield and Alna we eventually circumvented Wiscasset’s ongoing bottleneck. Along that meandering route a startled deer luckily proved domesticated enough to avoid jumping in front of me. Elsewhere, fenced-in livestock appeared completely content.  

At one bend in the road human discontent took the form of a permanently parked car painted like an American flag. Firearms welded to its hood and roof. The side facing the road boldly proclaimed: “2nd Amendment Rights.”  

The day’s excursion had indeed been a major departure from the predominately Blue urbanity of Bath and Brunswick. Just an hour away existed a vastly different cultural choice and economic model. The most remarkable part of that awareness was recognizing that though having come full circle I’d never actually left the 1st Congressional District.  

Gary Anderson lives in Bath. 

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