50 States of Generosity: Maine
We’re continuing a series at Tweetspeak — 50 States of Generosity, in which we highlight the 50 states of America and give people beautiful ways to understand and be generous with one another by noticing the unique and poetic things each state brings to the country. A more generous people in the States can become a more generous people in the world. We continue with Maine.
Capital: Augusta. Animal: Moose. Bird: Chickadee. Flower: White Pine Cone and Tassel. Treat: Whoopie Pie.
As my husband, two-year-old son, and I crossed over the bridge from New Hampshire to Maine, we could see a red shack beckoning in the distance. We moved along Route 1, and a sign appeared: Young’s Lobster Pound. My son was bouncing in his car seat. “Ready for lunch, buddy?” my husband asked. A sweet little voice answered, “Yeah! I want a clam!” A feast of not only many clams, but also lobster, corn, and potatoes on a sunny dock welcomed us to “Vacationland.”
In the confusing and frightening beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were itching to escape our tiny Queens, NY apartment and go anywhere. Literally, anywhere. We hadn’t eaten a meal outside of our home in months and we had forgotten what sunshine felt like. We had to choose a place that would allow us to be outside most of the time, but still isolate from other people. Old Orchard Beach fit the bill for the perfect pandemic getaway.
As you continue up Maine’s rugged coastline, which at 3,478 miles is longer than California’s coastline, the cliffs become rockier and the forests become thicker. Composed of over 90% forests, a large pine tree on Maine’s state seal is fitting for the “Pine Tree State.” Those lush branches provide an almost magical juxtaposition to the wild sea as you hike up on cooler days. You can find more magic on the Cliff Trail in Harpswell, which leads to a fairy-house-building zone where you can spend hours perfecting a woodland cottage for your fairy friends.
While you may or may not glimpse a fairy in the wild, you will be able to see all kinds of wildlife that thrives in Maine’s unique setting. Perhaps none are more adorable than the Atlantic puffin, which you can find along with humpback whales and seals as they travel the coast. My son and I even happened to stumble upon a moose, Maine’s state animal, on one of our hikes! I was equal parts awed and terrified by the creature—they are HUGE!—and we ducked behind some tall grasses until the moose found something more interesting than us and ran away.
On a different hike, we had yet another quintessential Maine experience—picking tiny wild Maine blueberries from the side of the trail. I couldn’t stop thinking about Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, as my tired son would not continue walking until he had had his fair share of berries. He looked just like Little Sal as he plopped down and ate until his lips were purple from blueberry juice. Perhaps McCloskey recalled this same experience with his children as he wrote: “Her mother went back to her picking, but Little Sal, because her feet were tired of standing and walking, sat down in the middle of a large clump of bushes and ate blueberries.” Unlike Sal’s mother, we were not able to save any of our delicious berries for later, but there was no shortage of blueberry pancakes when we got back to town.
It’s winter in New York now, but I am dreaming of the sweet, short summer in Maine.
Do you remember
Running along the beach
Your happy caw matching the gull’s?
Those electrifying sunsets
Pink, orange, lemon?
An eager explorer
You did not need mama’s hand.
Looking out from the cliffs
You could climb on your own.
Poetry Prompt: Maine Generosities
Use any of the things you learned about Maine (research more, if you want!) and put one or more of them into a poem. If you like, weave in a little generosity. Share in the comments.
More About Maine: Poets & Writers + Landmarks
Stephen King was born in Bangor, Maine, and the state is featured prominently in his spooky books!
E.B. White is perhaps one of Maine’s most famous residents. He based many of his beloved stories such as Charlotte’s Web on a farm similar to the one he owned with his wife, Katherine, in Allen Cove.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland Maine in 1807 and waxed eloquently about his home state’s lovely nature.
Chris Van Dusen is the author/illustrator of many wildly popular children’s books. You can really see Maine’s influence on his art in books like Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee.
Ryan T. Higgins is the author/illustrator of some of our family’s favorite readalouds, including Mother Bruce.
Acadia National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States and the only national park in New England.
Mount Katahdin is Maine’s tallest mountain and offers spectacular views from the summit and is the Northern-most end of the Appalachian trail.
The Nubble Lighthouse is a classic American lighthouse. Fun fact! NASA’s Voyager I carried a picture of the Nubble Lighthouse to show extra-terrestrials one of humankind’s great achievements.
Featured photo by Shadman Sakid, Creative Commons, via Unsplash.