Originally published on April 10, 2021
View the original post here.
In Maine, growing things have to fight to survive, and even harder to thrive. Old Mainers say that the only thing that grows here is rocks. My dad tells me sometimes about pulling rocks out of the hayfield every year when he and his brothers were kids. And me and my brothers grew up playing at my best friend’s house, perched on top of a glacial skree pile from when the last of the glaciers melted off from Canada, dragging rocks and gravel and sand in their wake.
But the rocks grow, and other things grow too in the gaps and spaces left behind. The trees climb up the mountains until the water runs out, and wild blueberries keep going past that up towards the summit. Way up there the moss grows, softened by rains and the snowmelt.
In roadside ditches as soon as the snow is gone, little yellow flowers turn their faces to the sunshine. The maple sap runs and flows and then leaf buds forms and spread into full-foliage.
In the hidden spaces in the woods, Jack stands in his pulpit, preaching to a congregation of ferns and blood root and trillium.
These are the soft spaces and the quiet places where old souls wander undisturbed.
Animals live here too, and most don’t want to see you or harm you. They are content to pass by like shadows in the night. The jays and crows are exceptions; they like to scream loudly and frequently, just because they can. Scaring the living daylights out of passersby is a fun hobby and I swear, they laugh at you if you jump.
Sometimes if you wander the woods you’ll find long stone walls running straight as an arrow through the trees. Covered in old leaves and half consumed by the forest, the stone walls remind you that sometimes, despite the hardship, people grow here in Maine.
The people here are rough around the edges, and it seems like even the babies come out looking a little weathered, and there’s a few bad apples in the bunch, but the people that grow in the rocky coastline and the equally rocky mountain ranges are most often, simply, “good people”.
They are my people.
There’s an ice breaker question I have seen many times that asks “Who would you want on your team if the world was ending?”
Often the answers are various fictional superheroes or celebrity figures. For a while that was my answer, too. “Captain America, obviously.”
My answer has changed.
I choose my brother, who comes to rescue me every single time I call him, and doesn’t ever complain.
I choose my neighbor, who plowed my driveway all winter and refused to be paid or even to take cookies, because he was “right there” and “it ain’t no trouble”.
I choose the two strangers in Phillips who came across my truck in a ditch one winter and, working together and with language as colorful as the sunset, pulled me out and set me back on my way.
I choose the people who don’t let me slip away unnoticed, who say my name when they greet me in passing. I choose the people who don’t know me but still nod acknowledgement and greeting. We are together in the same space and time for just a second, and it is good.
I choose my people.
This is my Maine. These are my people. They’re not perfect and they make me angry and hurt and sad sometimes, and lately I’ve been seeing things that I don’t recognize, traits that don’t seem to fit in very well. But under all the technology and civilization, this is still the woods. This is still Maine, and some things never will change.
Here, in the places where so much struggles to grow, kindness thrives. There are still good and kind people and I am blessed to be surrounded by so many of them.