I was struck this morning by the fragrance of the pine trees and salty air. It was a foggy Maine morning – not atypical for this time of year when warm weather in the day competes with cool, dark nights. I had stepped outside to pick raspberries with my daughters. (Our yard is filled with wild berry bushes that produce a yield worthy of a small farm.)
We grew quiet in what felt like a subconscious agreement as we crossed the gravel drive to the patch on the north side of our house. We breathed deeply, almost in unison. There was a headiness to that pine and salt fragrance and sweetness to the berries. We carried our berry bowls, tamped down a path and began to pick. We ate as many raspberries as we collected; remarking on the jewel-like nature of the tiny sweet fruits.
Every time I smell that sweet, briny aroma I am reminded of why I moved to Maine.
The first time I smelled it was as as child, around the age of 4. My parents, after completing the ten-hour drive from Baltimore to Kennebunkport, would open the car windows as we crossed the marsh bridge over the Mousam River on Route 9 In Wells, Maine.
It is there that the river opens up to the sea. For tourists (as we were back in those days) who visit this part of the coast, the stretch of road affords the first views of the Atlantic Ocean: the accompanying smell of salt air is unforgettable. This was always a crowning moment of our long road-trip. The backseat battles over “who-struck-who” or “Are we there yet?” quickly faded. We knew we had arrived when we smelled the sweet sea and saw the fog rise over the marsh.
Fast-forward 3 decades: My husband and I decided to make our home on the seacoast of Maine. We decided that it was the kind of place where we wanted to build a life and raise our children.
Maine has pushed and pulled me. My love for it ebbs and flows, dare I say, much like the coastal tides. I love where I am from: the lure of the culture, food, and springtime blossoms of Baltimore always makes me sentimental. The disdain for Baltimore traffic, crime and crowds tempers that sentimentality – I joke that now I spend as much time outdoors in Maine as I did commuting in my car around Maryland.
Maine’s environment is nothing short of spectacular. We relish the 3-mile bike ride to the unspoiled beach at Goose Rocks and the small tidal islands where we camp out, collect shells, and skinny dip. We adore knowing our neighbors and splitting shares of livestock and produce. We love the quiet and safety this landscape affords us.
Maine’s economy is a challenge however: most people work 2-3 jobs to make a comparable, 1-job- out-of-state salary. Amidst our revelry in natural beauty of Maine, we find ourselves juggling jobs to stay afloat – or choosing to do without the trappings of an urban lifestyle.
This morning, I found myself choosing to do with: with nature, with peace, with time well spent with my children and with a sense of calm that Maine gives to me. The hustle of work faded with the smell of the air and the promise of a bowl filled with fresh fruit.
Kristin Fuhrmann-Simmons #livelovefood
Author’s note: This subject i.e. “Why Maine” is worth exploring in depth and I promise that I will write more. I would love to hear your ideas on your sense of place and why you chose to live where you do.