In bringing you tales of the tough women of southern Maine, it would be a serious mistake to skip over my mother’s example. She believed in three things; the importance of one’s identity and place in the history of our kind, the importance of taking action to demonstrate the weight of one’s dedication to that principle. In the third place, she saw herself not as the owner of the house and lands she had inherited, but as the custodian, as someone charged with the maintenance and upkeep of the place she was given.

Russ Dillingham photo/Sun Journal

And so, when the snows came and the snowmobiles were out on the golf course behind the house, roaring and swooping up and down over the rolling hills, the greens, the bunkers and sand traps, or the meadow on the other side of North Street, she’d don her winter coat, granny hat with earmuffs, mittens and put on her snow shoes to chase down the miscreants, wave her fist and shout out “You’re killing the baby pine trees!”

Well, you and I know that a 90-year-old woman can’t outpace a snowmobile even if you have the best brand of snowshoes that LL Bean carries, but standing up for what you believe in is important, even if the protest may prove to be futile.

Most of the streets in Kennebunkport have no curb, although the town has been installing rough hewn granite curbs along the edge of several of the major streets, you know, the kind with sharp edges that will tear the heck out of your tires if you get too close. But that’s new stuff just for the summer folk and tourists who don’t know how to drive an automobile with some sense of care and composure.

Locke Street, where it joins North Street, right in front of mother’s house, has never had any curb, or other indication as to where the street ends and where her land begins, and so, after years of town snowplows swooping around the corner from North Street, snowplow blades flashing in the snow and gouging up strips of earth and newly planted grasslings, mother took up the cause.

When she heard the snowplows coming to rip up her front lawn, she’d don her winter coat, granny hat with earmuffs, mittens and boots, step outside, plant her leg right on the edge of her lawn, face the oncoming snowplow, stare the driver in the eye, and say, “Take this poor old leg if you must, but spare my lawn!”

Even now, after years have gone by since she passed, the edge of her lawn at the corner of North and Locke streets shows no gouge or ugly scar from rampant snowplow blades. Perhaps she was right in the importance of one’s identity and place in the history of our kind, and the importance of taking action to demonstrate the weight of one’s dedication to that principle.

And I’ve heard it said elsewhere, perhaps it’s best for all, if we think of ourselves not as owners, but as custodians, charged with the maintenance and upkeep of what we are given.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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