As we headed north in our packed car, for our final drive together from our former home in the suburbs of Boston to our summer cabin in Maine, we played a game. We called it, “What I will and won’t miss”. Our final couple of months before leaving had been so intense that mostly we felt only relief. Playing this game was our way of acknowledging things about our life in the ‘burbs that we enjoyed and appreciated as well as what we were happy to be leaving behind us.
Things we would not miss:
- The sound of lawn care—leaf blowers, lawn mowers, edge trimmers, etc.
- Traffic through and around town
- The attitudes and expressions of privilege
Things we thought we would miss:
- Conveniences and variety of shopping districts
- Being able to easily find things we need—an oil change, a haircut, our favorite craft beer, etc.
- Knowing some of our neighbors
There were more, of course, but you get the idea.
Our new (summer) home is in a town with a year-round population of around 600. It has no local school, police department, supermarket, or cellular service. It also has no stop signs, no sense of urgency, and no ambient light obscuring the night sky.
As expected, we don’t miss the traffic. It takes us the same amount of time to drive to the nearest grocery store nearly 15 miles away as it did to get to the market three miles from our former home, and the view is of verdant, rolling hills. There isn’t a single traffic light along the route, although we are warned to keep a look-out for moose. We don’t miss the clanging sirens from our former local fire station. We never hear the teeth-rattling pitch of a leaf-blower, although people do use the short summer season to do home improvement projects sometimes requiring chain saws.
In terms of convenience, we have been pleasantly surprised to discover that in this small cluster of towns most items are available. The local General Store carries baked goods and produce from people in the community, locally sourced meats and cheeses, a great selection of beers, and they make delicious sandwiches to boot. If you are wondering when raspberries might be available, the cheerful owner, Wendy, will call the raspberry farmer, Elvira, who lives just down the road and ask her. Or better yet, you can drive down and get them directly from the farmer.
Our local bottle redemption center is run out of a friendly woman’s barn just around the corner. Just past it lies the town “transfer station” that charges a couple of bucks per bag of trash and has a free “burn pile” for wood. A little further out is a combination goat farm and brewery that sells incredible cheeses and a delicious red ale (but it is such a small enterprise that, sadly, they don’t brew enough to sell take-home growlers in the busy summer months). They also run a “goat school” for people who want to raise goats! There are people who bake fresh breads and pies out of their home kitchen, sell fresh eggs from their backyard chickens and ducks, and vegetables from their gardens.
It has been so much fun exploring what resources exist here and meeting new people. We feel really good about engaging in the community by buying locally, attending local events, and supporting the local services.
And in a pinch, the “big city” of Bangor is only an hour away.