Monday, January 24, 2011

My Take: Being Vegan in Maine

Mom picking blueberries with Band-aid (the kitty) by her side.

When you grow up in a state that borders Canada, feels like the North Pole for a rough 6 months, and has the L.L. Bean Flagship store with an enormous hiking boot and whose doors never lock (seriously, never), you get use to odd light-hearted questions from people who live “away”:

“Do you have electricity up there?”
“Aren’t you part of Canada?”
“Oh you’re from Southern Maine, isn’t that New Hampshire?”
“How do you eat this?” (As they stare a bright red lobster in the face.)
“Is flannel always in style?”
“How many people graduated in your high school class, 12?”
“Do you know what traffic is?”
and my favorite…
“Is everyone this nice?”

The questions people ask are funny.  And whether they’re putting in the extra effort to get that humorous smile on your face or they really don’t know the answer, all could agree that Maine has so much to offer.

As a full-time resident, you start to live with the ebb and flow of the state –its tourism and four seasons and homegrown crops.

You get use to the spring and summer crowds, with their accents and brash driving skills, whose presence adds excitement to the beaches and a buzz at the outlet stores. Who relish our sweet summer corn and strawberry fields. These are the people who wish for Maine summers all year-round. But sadly pack their SUVs for home, only to return when the weather is warm and the kids are out of school.

You get the people who trek to the mountains for leaf-peeping season. Who like the taste of hearty Maine beer and the feel of crisp fall air. Whose inch-thick sweaters take on the aroma of freshly baked apple pie. The time of the year that instantly makes me want to go to a football game and create oddly amusing Jack O’Lanterns. 

Then there’s the winter crowd: The ski and snowboarding families who monopolize the mountains, the hockey families who monopolize the rinks, and the holiday shoppers who monopolize the parking spaces. Hot chocolate and baked goods in hand, trudging through a true Maine winter wonderland. A time where I love Saco Main Street, that changes yet, always remains the same.

My point is this: Maine may be deceiving, especially to a vegan. It may seem limiting with its excessive quantity of pine tree and seafood tradition. It may seem limiting because of the lack of an urban population and numerous vegan restaurants. But if you look a little closer it has so much to offer. From the restaurants that offer single vegan dishes to the farmer’s market to the tiny coffee shops that serve with a smile. It may take a little extra effort to be a vegan in Maine, but everything is worthwhile.

To answer the questions above:
Q. “Do you have electricity up there?”
A. Yes. Laptops don’t run on magic. Although I’m sure Steve Jobs and his staff are sitting in a dark room somewhere trying to figure out how to make that possible for the next release of an iPhone, iPod, iEverything contraption.

Q. “Aren’t you part of Canada?”
A. Not yet, however if it increases our chance of winning a gold medal in hockey at the next winter Olympics I suggest we look into to it.

Q. “Oh you’re from Southern Maine, isn’t that New Hampshire?”
A. No. That’s it, just no.

Q. “How do you eat this?” (As they stare a bright red lobster in the face.)
A. Not that I’m promoting this -- but when you live in Maine, you definitely get asked this question. Google it.

Q. “Is flannel always in style?”
A. I would have to defer to my overly stylish friends, but I’m going to say paired with the right boots and jean options, flannel could be a versatile all-year-round possibility.

Q. “How many people graduated in your high school class, 12?”
A. I think 250+.

A. “Do you know what traffic is?”
Yes, and that’s why we live in Maine.

Q. “Is everyone this nice?”
A. Yes. Most people in Maine come from nice families that help their neighbors and their friends.

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