I’m not sure I’d ever be considered a Maine man. When I moved here with my four kids back in 2005, I received a crash course in everything Mainer. It was our first deer hunting season here when I learned that there was a lottery for hunting bucks, not winning them. I remember one night when I was driving by a neighbor’s opened garage and hanging in the middle of it was a 10-point buck bleeding out. The proud hunter who bagged it was regaling his friends for the umpteenth time with an improved version of how he had scored the kill. Their rapt attention was underscored by the way they toasted him with their cold beers. My youngest caught a glimpse and asked what those men were doing. I told her, “They’re feeding their families.”

I don’t fish. I don’t hunt. I don’t ski anymore. I don’t snowshoe or snowmobile. I haven’t camped in years. I don’t boat on the lake, and only swim in it once or twice a summer. But I imagine my friends and family from New Jersey picturing me doing all of these things. Tim stalking, killing, and then harvesting an 8-point buck, eating the raw heart still beating in his bloody paws. There’s Tim doing a triple-axle while snowboarding the highest peaks Maine has to offer. And Tim is camped by a raging river living off the trout he catches and the wild vegetation he identifies with his keen outdoorsman instincts. Of course he can do all of these things, they will figure. Why else would he live in Maine if he didn’t?

Damn good question. Why does this man born and raised in the suburbs of New Jersey call Maine home? I do kayak on Haley Pond, and walk at least two miles in the woods with my trusty canine every single day regardless of the temperature. I play golf. I enjoy working with our local theater. I had been giving 85% of myself to the school until recently. I was dedicated to the kids. I have become enmeshed in this community. Rangeley has a way of doing this to people. There’s a place here for everyone if you can withstand the winters and the insects. It seems what I enjoy doing here can be done almost anywhere. But the setting, the grand scale of nature’s abundance, being in the middle of it all, living where tourists pay to visit and I get to call home, is just wow.

But, then, I don’t eat fiddleheads, drive a pickup truck, or particularly care for country music. I’m not a veteran of the armed services and I’ve never been smelting. I’m from the school of He who smelt it, dealt it. I have never changed my own oil. I’m proud when I even remember to have someone else do it. I do have a beard but it isn’t able to produce the long, thick bushy variety so many Maine men can grow; so thick and long that woodland creatures could take up residence in them. I don’t drink Busch Light or Bud. I like a nice lager or a polluted Bloody Mary.

I’m not a handyman around the house. I have a toolbox but it’s mostly a home for dust and spiders. I feel like an absolute fraud wearing Carhartts. Dickies suit me better. I am a fine cook and I keep the digs mostly clean. I like to sing when doing either. I pay the bills, and I know how to call the landlord when there’s a problem. No problem’s too big that someone else can’t fix.

I’m sounding pretty pathetic by now. I know I could go on YouTube and educate myself in the ways of carpentry and plumbing, but I figure my continued ignorance helps keep tradesmen employed. And I’m not totally without any talent. I can whistle.

It’s easy to stereotype, and, in this case, is being done in good fun. I have a deep, abiding respect for the Maine men I consider friends and those I’m acquainted with. We are all products of our environments. We do what we do because that’s what others did before us. We are good dads and we have good friends and we know how to have a good time. I guess I am a Maine man, after all.

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