Sunday, March 30, 2008

lighthouses... strawberry fields... and cold summer nights

Airborne at 35,000 miles above sea level, the view from top was scary yet breath-taking. It was a Tuesday, the 29th day of May 2007 in the eastern time zone and Continental Airlines Boeing 747 was cruising steadily (with a few turbulence, though) above what seemed to be an endless ocean of ice-capped mountain peaks and snow-powdered Alaska Range moving on across the Canadian Shield heading down to the impressive gentle hills and peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in east coast mainland USA. It was a sight to behold but the 12-hour flight from Tokyo, Japan to Newark, New Jersey was too exhausting for me to appreciate the majestic landscape below. I have never traveled more than eight thousand miles until now. The long queues of tourists and immigrants alike from all over the world (I was guessing) at the US Port of Entry in Newark waiting to be interrogated by the US Immigration Officers made my day longer if not more taxing. But the ordeal ended instantaneously when I was airborne again after 3 hours of rigid inspection at the Custom and was sitting-pretty at the belly of yet another smaller aircraft northeast-bound of the northern hemisphere. My destination... the 23rd state of the United States of America and the biggest state in the New England Region... Maine.

It was 11:30pm and the plane touched down on the dot. I was lucky that all my flights were on time or else I might be rotting pretty good. Shortly, I saw that familiar face again. That same face that used to cheer me up every time I go online. Those hazel eyes that drove me to jot down some of my inspired thoughts again on blog and other online literary postings (like this one). My soon-to-be-hubby was an hour early waiting for me at the lobby of Portland International Jetport anticipating my grand arrival, so to speak. It didn't take long before we were able to locate my three red luggage and soon afterwards they were dumped at the back of his GMC Sierra and I was comfortably strapped at the passenger's seat going to Ogunquit, York County.

Maine is one of the best places I have been to so far. Definitely different from the four other places I've been and specifically more significant too. Maine is considered as the "easternmost town of the United States of America" maybe because it is at the border of Canada and at the upper eastern tip of the North American continent [geographically speaking]. It is composed of 16 counties. It has a total land area of 33,215 sq. miles with a total of only over a million populations and a ratio that sums up to 41 persons per square mile. Maine has 6,000 lakes and ponds [with over 3 thousand miles and 200 miles of shoreline and coastline, respectively] where its people go ice-fishing on wintertime and where water sports Yankees cool down on summertime. It is where its people get their most famous livelihood and produce... lobsters. It has lots of rivers to explore too. It also has 17 million acres of forest where many Mainers go for moose (the state's animal), deer, bear and turkey hunting - their number one past-time. Yes, hunting is big-time here. It's a sport and a hobby that most Mainers have grown up to. But you can't just go hunting here, one need to get a license to be able to do so for there are rules to follow and there are specific seasons and places to do it. So much for the animal rights crusaders around, for you can't be heard here, you are definitely out-numbered by the hunters.

Maine's mountains are rich in minerals and gemstones... tourmaline being the state's gemstone is a real beauty and precious. Mining is not just one of the biggest industries here... it's a past-time and a hobby as well for many adventure-seekers. Maine's forest is rich in pine trees (white pine the state's tree), that is why it is called the Pine State. Many tourists from out-of-state and neighboring Canada come here to enjoy summertime for Maine is called Vacationland too. Being so, it never fails to live up to that expectation for summer in Maine is cool and light. Cool summer nights are good for camping and there are lots of campsites around the state. Campers and RVs trekking the main roads are a common sight because summertime in Maine means fun time. I came to Maine when it was almost at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, and that... was something. I was awed by the experience. The landscape changes dramatically as we drove from one county to another. Miles and miles of mono-chromatic green rolling hills covered in thick pine and maple trees surrounding pristine blue lakes and rivers and countless watershed are always awesome and picture-perfect. Acres and acres of valleys covered with hay or grass peppered with tiny yellow and white daisies seemed to look like a huge live painting. And from that day on, I knew, I will never get tired of looking at those scenic places here for each time we visit or drive by the same place over and over again, it feels like I been there the first time... always. Maine is always changing, always enticing, and always captivating.

Augusta is the capital of the state but Portland is the biggest city. Cities here are not like any other cities in the world. It could get really busy at rush hour and traffic jam is not totally a new thing in the main streets but it is still a little bit laid back and more relaxed. You can't see high towering buildings here or skyscrapers like in other industrialized and modern cities of the world. Here, simplicity is not an issue; it's the way of life. Colonial style buildings and architecture give the state a rustic feel to the city. While white or gray pointed church steeples seen from afar sticking out from the bushy, shaggy and leafy branches of pines and maple trees from a cozy neighborhood give a hint of a distinct New England appeal. The cities are indeed enchanting yet down-to-earth... surreal yet natural... seductive yet evasive.

Maine has a certain charm about it, a distinct beauty and character that captivated my heart from day one. The crisp cool breeze certainly sent shiver to my spine but the sunshine gave my cold cheeks a gentle warm caress. Maine is where I will be for the next five years or so. And that is not an understatement. Having said so, I know I have to be ready for what it takes. There are lots of things I need to learn here [like driving a mile or two just to go to the store to get a Power Ball (lottery) ticket or an ice cream, perhaps]... a lot of things I need to adjust to [like the weather, for it really is freezing up here even in summertime (the time frame of this post for wintertime is indeed another story to tell or write)]... a lot of things I need to get used to [like waking up to the chirping sound of the chickadee (the state's bird), seeing a herd of deer munching on my hubby's vegetable garden, or a couple of squirrels and chipmunks in our driveway chewing on maple seeds, or having a rafter of wild turkeys looking for a place to spend a night in our backyard, or simply meeting papa bear (sometimes with mama bear and baby bear tagging along) crossing the street]... a lot of things I look forward to [like strawberry and blueberry picking, shopping for flowers and vegetables seeds, boating, fishing, camping, hiking, gold panning and tourmaline mining]... and a lot of things I will never get tired of [like visiting the light houses (there are more than 20 of it all over the state and they are gorgeous for I was married in one of them, the historical Portland Head Light which was built in 1786 way before George Washington became the first president of the United States)]. Maine is unpredictable and full of surprises. It is cold and yet with a calming warmth. It is here where my life takes a whole new world... a whole new experience... a whole new existence.

Maine is definitely a new place for me... a new life... a new beginning. Maine is where my home now. And Maine is where my heart will be... for now.

(NOTED: This was first published at naggingTHOUGHTS on September 23, 2007)


Gusher said...

hi there, you've got a nice blog here, hi there ,care for xlink? i've already added your link, please add me too, thanks.

Vincent Bautista said...

hi ruthi! Thanks for the visit again. Hey there's something wrong with your shoutbox. It doesn't seem to accept messages. No wonder it's still empty.

Anyway, have a great weekend!

Vincent Bautista said...

Elow! How are you?

South of Quebec huh (had to pull up a Canadian Map to orient myself hehehe)? We're like at opposite sides of the world. Isn't it amazing that we live in the same country but we still have to ride a long plane ride to get to each other hehehe. ^_^

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