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Summer in Maine is a special time of year. We’ve endured snow, ice, mud season and, increasingly, browntail moths, to bask in several months — we hope — of sun and warmth.
The allure of a Maine summer is no surprise. Consider the line of cars headed north at the York toll booths on a Friday afternoon in the summer. Think of the crowded sidewalks in Bar Harbor, Ogunquit and other long-time tourist destinations in July and August. Try to reserve a campsite at Baxter State Park or many other state parks for a summer weekend.
It is also no surprise that many Maine visitors and residents — some from the Pine Tree State, others who discovered it later in life — put their love of the state into words. Here are some that especially resonated with us.
“What happens to me when I cross the Piscataqua and plunge rapidly into Maine at a cost of seventy-five cents in tolls? I cannot describe it,” fabled writer E.B. White penned in “Home-Coming,” which is essentially a love letter to Maine. “I do not ordinarily spy a partridge in a pear tree, or three French hens, but I do have the sensation of having received a gift from a true love. And when, five hours later, I dip down across the Narramissic and look back at the tiny town of Orland, the white spire of its church against the pale-red sky stirs me in a way that Chartres could never do.”
Like White, we — and many other Mainers, as witnessed by posts on social media — feel a sense of homecoming when crossing the bridge over the Piscataqua River, which delineates part of the border between New Hampshire and Maine. He, of course, articulates that feeling better than we can.
“If I had children today or something, I’d move them to Maine so fast that their heads would spin,” painter Jamie Wyeth told NBC in 2006. “I mean there’s a quality of life in Maine which is singular and unique. I think. It’s absolutely a world unto itself.”
Wyeth is the third generation of his family to spend at least part of the year here. His grandfather, N.C. Wyeth, and father, Andrew Wyeth, captured the landscapes, people and animals of Maine in paintings, many of them famous, that hang in the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland and galleries around the country.
While there is a common lament that too many young people are leaving the state, writer Alexander Chee, who spent part of his childhood here, reminds us that sometimes you have to leave a place and return later to truly appreciate it.
“The beauty of Maine is such that you can’t really see it clearly while you live there,” he wrote in a 2016 essay about Acadia National Park. “But now that I’ve moved away, with each return it all becomes almost hallucinatory: the dark blue water, the rocky coast with occasional flashes of white sand, the jasper stone beaches along the coast, the pine and fir forests somehow vivid in their stillness. The sun, more intense through the clear air, makes all of this even sharper.
“A boyfriend once said: ‘I always thought you were exaggerating about how beautiful this place was.’”
Whether you are a native, a newcomer or a visitor, you’ve likely discovered that exclamations about the beauty of Maine are no exaggerations.