For many Mainers, the words Down East refer to a region along the coast, though those outside the state can be forgiven for referring to the entire state with the quaint term … and referring to all of us Mainers as “Down Easters.”
For others — tourists, readers, writers and Mainers alike — Down East is a magazine that celebrates all things Maine, albeit in a decidedly non-Maineish glossy style.
That’s the Down East I want to talk about today.
More specifically, I’d like to tell you a few things about Down East that you don’t know.
First, forget the magazine with the pretty photos and the advertisements for $5 million estates on the Maine coast.
Instead, think books. Lots of books. Lots of interesting, well-written, wish-I’d-written-’em books.
Lots of books that would make perfect Christmas gifts for your friends and family members, whether they’re Mainers or not.
Down East Books, which is based in Rockport, publishes a wide variety of books.
For our purposes today, I’ll merely focus on the outdoor-related titles — one in particular — but rest assured, I’ve learned that Down East has a book (or four) for everyone.
Want to learn about fly tying? There are several options. Want to hear about the skiing history of Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain? No problem.
Or maybe you want to read the essays of my colleague, Tom Hennessey, in his book, “Handy to Home.” Down East is the place to find it.
I was recently re-introduced to Down East’s offerings, and was immediately impressed.
And while I might have bypassed the sample book I’ve most recently been reading if I’d merely seen it among thousands in a store, Michael McIntosh’s “Shotguns and Shooting Three,” has opened my eyes to all the (nearly) local books that I’ve been overlooking.
McIntosh is from Iowa. He knows how to shoot, and teaches others the finer points of shotgun shooting.
Most importantly, from my point of view, he can write.
McIntosh’s book, which was published under Down East’s Shooting Sportsman arm, has been a delight, even for someone like me.
I miss more birds than I hit, and I don’t own a top-end Parker or Fox shotgun.
I’m probably a lot like some of you in that regard.
And while McIntosh’s certainly appreciates the fine shotguns that are available, and can talk at length about the intricacies of those guns, he doesn’t talk down to those of us who head into the woods carrying a well-worn relic (or gun shop bargain) and a desire to shoot birds on the wing.
To McIntosh, shooting, and shooting well, is a way of life. Appreciating the workmanship that goes into a high-end gun plays a role in the book; so, too, does realizing that no matter what gun you’re carrying, you share a bond with all others who have gone before you, and enjoyed the same pastimes.
If you’re looking for a history book that covers major innovations in the craft, “Shotguns and Shooting Three” has it. If you’re looking for easy-to-digest lessons that will help you shoot better, you can find that, too.
If you’re looking for a bit of humor, you’re sure to find that as well.
You can get McIntosh’s book for $25 through the Down East Books Web site (Hennessey’s “Handy to Home is on sale for just $12.45 — a 50 percent savings) at www.downeast.com.
And while you’re there, take the time to browse some of the other titles.
I’ll bet you’ll be surprised.
And I’ll bet you learn that your Christmas shopping just got a lot more simple.
Sugarloaf wall-to-wall white
While many of us found ourselves dealing with wind-blown rain during the day and evening hours Tuesday, some folks got a good head start on winter.
At Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, for instance, skiers received the kind of early storm that should jumpstart the season.
Press dispatches from Sugarloaf began arriving Tuesday afternoon, as excited public relations staffers scrambled to let news outlets know about their storm.
According to the Sugarloaf Web site, the snow just kept coming and coming and coming.
And while just six trails and a single lift are open today, the resort announced that it received 24 inches of new snow at the summit.
Even the bottom of the mountain received 14 inches of snow.
And the good news continues: Sugarloaf is expecting flurries today and Friday.
The resort opened for business last week, and many serious skiers typically view Thanksgiving as the time to start making the pilgrimage to the western mountains.
Here’s hoping the snow holds up … and that we don’t get any more rain until April.