To the Editor:

An Arcadian, one who lives in total harmony with the land, a country dweller in a ‘rustic paradise’, as defined, chooses a simple, quiet life. These types of people are often considered the ‘salt of the earth’.

Imagine, if you will, my mother in her early 30s in the late 1970s. She had already seen many beautiful places in the United States; she had slept among the evergreens in the great Colorado Rockies.

This is where she falls in love with a place at first sight. Her baby girl bouncing in the back seat, her truest love at the wheel, they round the corner into Mount Vernon, Maine.

It’s a quaint village sharing the land with a small, sparkling lake called ‘Minnehonk’, an Algonquin-Abenaki word meaning “berries stream”. There are trees as far as the eye can see and everyone outside is smiling and waving like a literal Norman Rockwell Painting.

She thinks to herself, “I’m home.” My dad proud of the moment, after all it was he who brought us to this New England paradise.

In the beginning, it was a lot like people who have never been there somehow imagine it. They hear I grew up in Maine and ask things like, “Do you know Stephen King?”, “Are the roads paved there?”, “Do people have plumbing and electricity?”, “Is it just like Little House on the Prairie?”

I get these questions and crazier, and of course my answers are always the same: some of the roads are dirt and for the most part we don’t care. I didn’t have plumbing until 1987, some people still don’t, but the vast majority of Mainers enjoy plumbing and electricity indoors – thanks for asking.

Stephen King is a friend to us all, whether we know him or not. Finally, yes, Little House on the Prairie is a relatable comparison. Here is why: growing up in rural Maine is a very wholesome, somewhat sheltered, experience.

People are generally very kind, neighborly, and morally sound. The land is both beautiful and fruitful. People ride horses and carry fish over their shoulders as they walk home from the swimming holes. There are small farms, dairies, hard workers, and there is even a Nelly here and there–isn’t that right?

I had the privilege of growing up with parents who had friends who were artists, creatives, intellectuals, world travelers, photographers, teachers, musicians, craftsmen, tradesmen, doctors, dentists, woodsmen, business owners, and people who were from all different backgrounds. Everyone I personally knew to any real depth were teaching or were taught tolerance, love, spirituality, kindness, and the importance of an open mind.

The culture in Maine is an interesting mix of French Canadian, the Penobscot, Maliseet, and Abenaki Natives. There is a large Scottish, Irish, Italian, and English population reaching back to the 1600s. The French history is rich and shows throughout the majority of the state.

Maine is lucky number 23 and gained its current border in 1842. Maine was THE FIRST state to support the Union on their bid for an anti-slavery nation. It was never a state that supported slavery and the elders never took that lightly.

Remember Hannibal Hamlin? He was Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President, a Paris, Mainer and voice of reason in the mid-1800s.

Industrially, Maine represents with timber–paper mills, world renowned boat and ship building, fishing and textiles. Seeing the television program ‘Made in Maine’ is by far one of my favorite things. I’m proud of it and I’m proud of the work that is done there.

Growing up in Maine had its negative qualities too. We always felt behind the rest of the country with everything from fashion to music. I couldn’t relate to John Hughes’ films to save my life with all its mauve carpeting, sidewalks, and hanging out at the mall.

But my parents took me out of state a lot. After all, Maine is in a prime location. Boston, two hours; Cape Cod, three; New York, Jersey, & Philadelphia, seven. It takes me seven hours just to leave Arizona.

Speaking of Arizona, Maine fits per square miles in Arizona 3.2 times. So, when ‘Drew Magary’ from ‘Deadspin’ said it took 64 hours to get to Bar Harbor from Waterville I guess he must have been hallucinating, while driving 3 mph.

Maine is a feeling. It’s an old friend with a couch you can sleep on. Maine lives in the hearts of its inhabitants. It’s where the mailman still delivers incorrectly addressed mail. It’s a place where everyone “has a guy” for everything.

Maine maintains its 1-4 spot as lowest homicide rate in the country. Maine is where you can still ride a horse drawn carriage through the bank drive-up, isn’t it? Maine is a Robert Frost poem and a hot cup of cocoa with miniature marshmallows on a cold winter day. Maine gives real meaning to the saying “It’s a small world.”

Maine is pure driven snow, warm summers, 3,000 lakes of soft warm water, lobster, 3,400 miles of gorgeous rocky coast, blueberries, pine trees, lush green forests, potatoes, incredible sunsets, 3,100 islands, 32,000 miles of rivers & streams, lighthouses, coon cats, moose, topaz, amethyst, granite, tourmaline, three beautiful reservations, 540,000 acres of state & national parks, breweries, wineries, and honeybees!

Maine does love a tourist and the bread that gets buttered, so by all means, pay it a visit. Drop some cash. See some sights. Just don’t litter, please and thank you.

Sarah Jane Thompson Aguirre

Phoenix, Ariz.

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