On our first visit to Maine, when Scott was still young enough to earnestly fill up his Junior Ranger booklet and to be happy about getting his "badge" from a ranger, and Katie just really liked playing with stuff in the water, we took a tour in a lobster boat. The water sparkled, the sun and breeze were perfect, the fishing village we went to was on a quaint island, and still active.
Our guide demonstrated catching lobster, and asked us if we could see how nice it would be to be out on a boat like that all day long. We agreed that it would be a wonderful way to spend the day. Then he asked us how we would feel out on that boat in January, hauling traps as ice formed on our gear. It was my first introduction to how dangerous fishing is, and how much work it takes to set dinner from the sea onto my plate. We lose fishermen and women every year to storms and accidents, yet they continue to work long and hard at the vital job of bringing food to us from the deep waters off the coast of Maine.
The wharves have attracted tourists to a state that struggles to find enough industry to thrive economically. I always direct visitors to one of the piers that looks like it could be from 100 years ago. The dock's rugged and timeless beauty is something most of us don't see outside of a few places in the country. Ironically, those who use the wharves to fish are now constantly fighting for continued use of the only space they have to do their work, as condos and restaurants, hotels and other businesses crowd them out. It's a little like chopping down the forest so everyone can move to the wilderness, but then find the wilderness is now missing. (Which is also something happening in northern Maine.)
As our population grows and our wild spaces shrink, we are loving these fragile places to death. There is no more to discover. What is here will be gone once it is gone.
My husband and I met through an organization that did work in the national parks. We have made sure our children visited, camped in, hiked through and learned to appreciate the rare beauty that is their heritage as citizens of our amazing country. I'm grateful to those who came before, who made sure we could all share these wild spaces, instead of just turning them over to whoever had the ready cash at any given moment. And I appreciate those who work hard now to continue this legacy. In some places that means protecting vital businesses, like fishing and family farms and orchards, so that they continue on and provide us with generations of needed work (and food) in the future.
In the meantime, I'm painting as fast as I can to capture the beauty I see all around me in this amazing place called Maine. It really is worth the visit!