I've been reading john Hodgman's Vacationland
, which contains an essay on vacationing in Maine. I immediately thought of you and your connection to the land (as well as the many Massholes here). A few passages:
Maine used to be part of Massachusetts, by some arrangement that made zero sense. They have never shared a border, and for most of the early life of the Union, Massachusetts ignored Maine, which was named either for a French province or a British town or for the fact that the dirt and rock portions of the state are not oceans, but the mainland. No one knows for sure. Large parts of the region north of the Penobscot River were barely mapped, and essentially ceded to British Canada. It only became a state in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise. Missouri wanted to enter the Union as a slave state, so the US government needed to find a new territory to enter as a free state, because it was believed this would make the practice of owning other humans less brutally and eternally criminal somehow. It didn’t. But in any case, the government was calling around to the states (and commonwealths) asking if anyone had any garbage land they didn’t want, and Massachusetts said, “Oh yes! We absolutely do. We have this whole, massive hump of half-Canada up there that we never use. Take it.” And that was how Maine was born: a new state, created in part to sustain a horrible evil, but only serving to delay its inevitable collapse by forty-three years
The idea of having several days, never mind weeks or months, to relocate to a climate that was better for your lungs or gout, or to have an extra home in which to practice bridge strategies and indolence, was unimaginable to all but the most wealthy Bostonians, who were inbred and warped. Their idea of vacation was to go north, to a cold dark place, where they would not speak to their families but instead sit in silence, drinking martinis, looking out over bodies of water that you would never, EVER go into. Because the waters of Maine are made of hate and want to kill you.
The ocean in Maine is traumatically cold. If you make the mistake of going into it, every cell in your body will begin shouting the first half of the word “hypothermia” into your brain; the second half will simply be frozen tears. And the beaches of Maine offer no relief as you launch yourself back onto shore, because the beaches of Maine are made out of jagged stones shaped like knives.
The archetypal examples of Maine Humor are the “Bert and I” stories, recounting the non-adventures of a lobsterman (“I”) and his sternman, Bert. A typical “Bert and I” story (and the first) involves Bert and I starting their boat, the Bluebird. Then they go out to sea. Then they get stuck in fog. Then they get hit by a larger boat. The end. All of this is punctuated by dry asides and incomprehensible local terminology and vocal imitations of lobster boat engines made from breath and spittle that my wife finds disgusting and scary. There are many books and albums of these stories, and I have eventually come to enjoy them. Sometimes they actually are funny in a way that is very quiet and very occasional. But they are always hypnotic, the storyteller’s twisty, alien accent devolving into white noise.