Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living at the Edge

We live at the easternmost edge of the United States in a teeny little town called Lubec. Living here is an experience like no other. How we got here was an unusual, unplanned bit of fate.

I am a native Mainer - but central Maine is a completely different lifestyle than "downeast." My husband is from Los Angeles. We were both living in Knoxville, Tennessee when the opportunity came up for us to move to Lubec. Chris' grandfather had a house here that was vacant and he felt it would be a perfect place for an artist and writer. So, we packed up the Uhaul and in three weeks time had a new home and life in a region of Maine that we had never visited before. Of course, we had a glamorous image in our mind...coastal cottage on a sea cliff.

As we continued our drive (a good 20+ hours) up route 1 in Maine..the road became increasingly more deteriorated, the treescape changed (spruce instead of lush maple and oak), and businesses were nearly non-existent. Now, being a town without a Wal Mart or McDonalds is fine, but this gave the word remote a new meaning for us! Here, there are no traffic lights for 50 miles. The eagles soar overhead and bear ramble through town. In winter, there is one, sometimes two, diners that are open for business, and the local market closes by 6:00. Gas and heating oil prices are higher, food costs more, and wages (if you can find a job) are pitiful. Sea smoke pours off the bay signaling another extremely cold day. If you lose power in a storm, Lubec is not the first town Bangor Hydro rushes to repair service to. If you need anything - say a new pair of underwear or a prescription filled - it is either a 70 mile or 100 mile roundtrip to Machias or Calais. And, our little coastal cottage on a sea cliff.....? We arrived to a house, no running water, trees overgrowing the barn entrance, kitchen ceiling being supported by a birch tree branch, no stove, and a 1920's era Westinghouse refrigerator that did a superb job of melting ice-cream and freezing vegetables. And, we have to barricade the cellar entrance every night lest the raccoons break in and tear things apart.

Yet, here were are, eight years later still living here. The first few years were challenging, to say the least. But sometime around our third or fourth year here we began to meet some of the most interesting and incredible friends. They are poets, authors, healers, musicians, artists, storytellers, dancers, peace activists, Buddhists, Quakers, Shamans, naturalists, world travelers, teachers, weavers, and organic farmers. These incredible people, coupled with the raw beauty of this area has us now understanding why people come here and call it their paradise. It is a hideaway from the mainstream where nature is still in charge.

We can walk out our front door and choose from a dozen or more hikes. We can launch our kayaks in South Bay behind our house or in Johnson Bay if we want to tool around the salmon pens. We once saw at least fifty eagles circling over Carrying Place Cove. There are ancient shells hidden in the clay beds at Mowry Beach. Here, you hear the real "downast accent" that the Stephen King movies never seem to get quite right. In summer, painters line the streets to capture the glow of sun's first light on buildings. On Wednesday evenings, Summer Keys classical and jazz music pours out of the Congregational Church. Crow Town Gallery has the tastiest food spreads at their art openings that feature "local" but accomplished artists. On Fridays we pick up the best tasting wood-fired bread from Ed and Diane's place, and we have the sweetest little natural foods market at Sun Porch Industries. Martha is always stocked with fresh breads, coconut milk, spices, rice and pastas which seem to be our main staples. And, if you feel like doing some international travel, just hop in the car and drive across the bridge to Campobello Island, Canada.

So, we have to live miserly to get by here and we are sometimes cold with all the drafts in this old house, and traveling to visit family is a huge production and expense...but the treasures of this little village are worth the extra effort.

To visit some sites about this area check out:

http://lubecme.govoffice2.com/index.asp?Type=NONE&SEC={216C09B5-1156-4827-833E-B285802A912B}
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubec,_Maine
http://www.culturepass.net/
http://www.summerkeys.com/
http://www.cohillsinn.com/
http://www.thecclc.org/
http://www.qrlt.org/

(In the painting above: The view from Klondike Mountain - overlooking South Bay, behind our house. The posts from an old pier are still visible at low tide. The pier once was attached to a business that was part of the Klondike Gold Rush - yep, right here in Lubec! It turned out to be a scam.)

2 comments:

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

I love reading about your story! My goal is to live in a small town someday in Northern Michigan. I have lived in cities and huge metropolis's my whole life. I am not a city person but I am here right now.

I feel that it is kind of nice to be far away from places. Although when we are used to "modern conveniences, (despite being consumerist)" it can be quite a change! It is even nicer to be in a place where nature is in charge and not bulldozed underneath suburban parking lots and Walmarts. It is quite a thing you have there and I imagine that it is quite peaceful!

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

peaceful...yes. i grew up in a rural area - thought i was a city girl at heart, but ended up here. there are pros and cons to either lifestyle. my friends visit and want to give up their jobs and move here - but it is a tough lifestyle in many respects.

we do have modern conveniences still - even in the most remote of areas. internet, cable tv, cell phones, electricity. it isn't like in "grandma's day". though, some folks who live here are completely off the grid.