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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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Stuff people write
- I’m a scientist and a Mainer. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration | The Washington Post via Bangor Daily News
- Lipstick on a Health Bill | The New York Times
- As Feds Move Away From Climate Change, Maine and New England Consider Stronger CO2 Caps | Maine Public
- Maine doctors prescribing far fewer opioids, analysis at county level shows | Portland Press Herald
- Here to There and Back: The AT | Maine Public
Tag Archives: DownEast.com
Tides of promise: Tidal power could help restore economic sustainability to eastern Maine | DownEast.com
Tides of promise: Tidal power could help restore economic sustainability to eastern Maine | DownEast.com
Frankly, I hadn’t heard this story, but the locals seemed to understand the concept of fighting another day. Here’s some Maine trivia from DownEast.com
What gained Fort Sullivan fame in 1814?
Built in 1810 as a battery and blockhouse in Eastport, the fort gained fame in 1814 when a dozen British warships loaded with two hundred guns came into sight. Against such overwhelming odds, the fort’s six officers, eighty men, and nine guns surrendered upon demand.
[I haven’t had a time to read or analyze this poll, so I won’t comment about the candidates and issues, but I thought I’d offer it up for those of you in Maine who might be voting in the coming election. The link below is to Mike Tipping’s blog on DownEast.com and there is a copy of the poll results attached to the blog entry. I recommend reading Tipping’s comments – and reservations – on the poll before diving into the poll itself. – KM]
OK, I didn’t know this trivia question on DownEast.com. It’s kind of interesting. I wish the answer had included when the monument was placed there. And it wouldn’t hurt if a photo had been included. Ah, well …
Where is the monument honoring Maine Indians who fought in the Revolutionary War?
At the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation. It was placed there by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
OK, I sort of guessed this DownEast.com trivia question, but I got it correct.
James G. Blaine. From the mid-1860s to the end of the century, Blaine held the posts of speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. senator, and U.S. secretary of state. He was defeated in his quest for the presidency in 1884 by Grover Cleveland.
And, of course, The Blaine House, is the Maine governor’s residence.
I was a wildland firefighter for three summers while attending college and we were always told to watch out for rattlesnakes.
And paying for green fees in California, Nevada and other western states might come with a warning to avoid certain areas on the golf course infested with snakes. (“Sooo, is that a 7-iron, then?” – a reply to a warning about snakes at a golf course in Carson City, Nevada.)
The answer to the DownEast.com trivia question should calm any concerns for parents in Maine about letting their children play in the outdoors.
Is it true that Maine has no venomous snakes?
Yes. Though a small number of timber rattlesnakes, considered transient, have been spotted in southernmost Maine, the state is considered the only one of the Lower 48 to have no native venomous snakes.
OK, here’s a family-lore story. The story goes that my father, sister and very probably my mother and I were outside. My father and mother very likely were doing yard work; my sister and I were too young.
At one point my sister wandered to the edge of the property and brought back with her a run-of-the-mill garter snake and tried to show it to my father. Apparently, my father was particularly frightened of snakes – and the little garter snake was no exception. He apparently backed away from my sister, yelling at her to drop the snake.
No one was harmed, not even the snake.
There may be a problem with the trivia question answer, however, and it might require a mild clarification. I just noticed in a Wikipedia entry on garter snakes that
“Garters were long thought to be nonvenomous, but recent discoveries have revealed that they do in fact produce a mild neurotoxic venom. Garter snakes are nevertheless harmless to humans due to the very low amounts of venom they produce, which is comparatively mild, and the fact that they lack an effective means of delivering it.”
So there you have the skinny of snakes.
I think I might have shared this DownEast.com trivia question another time, but it still bring a smirk to my face.
Where was the last hand-cranked phone taken out of service?
It was in Bryant Pond (Maine) in 1983.
There are several ways to have Maine-style lobster. The postcard version, of course, is to boil up some water over an open fire on a beach and serve with steamed clams, fresh corn, and lots and lots of butter.
Another Maine style is to set up a newly purchased Coleman camp stove on the driveway of your sister’s Fryeburg home, boil some water, and light up a cigar.
That’s right, light up a cigar.
The last time I visited family in Maine, that’s what happened.
My mother and I had traveled from her home in Aroostook County where I was visiting and we stopped along the way at the Bangor Walmart to pick up the stove. I cannot recall exactly the occasion for the purchase. It might have been a wedding anniversary gift for The Sis and Brother-in-Law Mark.
Lobsters were purchased and the water was set to boil on the camp stove set up in my sister’s driveway. (My sister did not want the smell of lobster to linger for days and days in her fairly new home.)
My sister’s home is set back in the woods outside of Fryeburg with plenty of nooks and crannies and ponds and leaves and blades of grass for mosquitoes to flourish. I describe Maine mosquitoes and blackflies this way to my friends “from away” – the mosquitoes and blackflies are so large in Maine that the Federal Aviation Administration issues tail numbers. And requires flight plans.
I do not use “swarm” often, but we were attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes shortly after starting the lobster bath.
At one point I flashed to a memory of my father and mother lighting “smudge fires” in metal barrels and buckets to ward off mosquitoes and blackflies in order to continue outdoor activities. Despite thinking that my sister or mother might object, I offered to retrieve an Arturo Fuente cigar from a stash I had with me on the trip and light it up to be a “human smudge fire.”
“Yes, go! Go get a cigar!” I seem to recall my sister saying.
“Yes, Keith, go!” my mother added. (At least, that’s what I recall now them saying then. I could be wrong.”
So, there I was, standing in my sister’s driveway overseeing the cooking of the crustaceans with a stogy sticking out of the corner of my mouth providing a smudge fire protection for my Mom, The Sis, and her family.
What started all this? The DownEast.com trivia question for the day.
How many species of mosquitoes are native to Maine?
Although sometimes it seems like millions, Maine is home to about twenty species of human-biting mosquitoes.
I am of the belief that scientists have not classified all the species for 20 seems like a very, very low number. Trust me on this.
You gotta love today’s DownEast.com trivia question.
Who was the only United States governor to declare war on a foreign power?
Maine Gov. John Fairfield declared war on Great Britain on March 18, 1840, opening the bloodless Aroostook War over Maine’s northern boundary with Canada.
Given the independent nature of Mainers, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
I’m not sure if it was after this “war” that surveyors went down the Saint John River to establish a boundary when locals invited them to a party, got them drunk, and sent the surveyors down a wrong tributary to the north of where they were supposed to go.
Eventually, the surveyors realized what had happened and the made two surveyor’s lines in order to meet up again with their intended route. The result was that Maine ended up with a bunch more land than it was supposed to have and Canada a bit less.
I had to grin about the DownEast.com trivia question for today, especially since I posted the other day about the Maine craft beers I am able to find here in California. Here’s the question.
What was the “Maine Law”?
Maine pioneered the prohibition of alcohol, adopting a ban on the sale of liquor on June 2, 1851. The law became the model for prohibition laws in other states.
The most popular actor to come from Maine in some time is Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka Dr. McDreamy, on “Grey’s Anatomy.” He was born in Lewiston and grew up in Bucksfield, according to Wikipedia and The Internet Movie Database.
Anyway, a while before Dempsey became Dr. McDreamy, there was another actor from Maine people were talking about. He is the subject of the DownEast.com trivia question for today. I knew the answer, by the way.
What Brat Pack actor was born in Portland and starred in “The Breakfast Club?”
OK, so I was stumped by today’s DownEast.com trivia question.
And I’m a tiny bit embarrassed by that since I grew up in the Maine North Woods and I should have known better. Here it is:
What’s a Bangor Tiger?
It’s a traditional name for a skillful competitor in the sport of log-rolling (birling). The name was given to Penobscot river-drivers in the nineteenth century.
I’ll remember it now, you can be sure of that.
So, what do Sangerville (Piscataquis County), the mousetrap, and the machine gun have in common?
Well, answer today’s DownEast.com trivia question and find out. … OK, enough of that, here’s the question and the answer.
Who invented the common mousetrap?
Sangerville native Hiram Maxim, who also invented the machine gun.
News stories and blogs on Maine’s major media websites not long ago reminded me just how every important fish and fishing are to me and Maine.
I’m not talking about commercial fishing. Commercial fishing in Maine is huge. In Maine, fishing is a way of life and enormous to the economy of the entire state. Fish is king in Maine.
What I’m talking about instead is the kind of fishing I learned as a kid – sports fishing and fishing for sustenance on inland waterways. The fishing I learned was a rite of passage and an outdoors activity to feed the body and soul.
And the mosquitoes and black flies, but that’s a different blog entry.
Stories on the websites of the Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald and Down East magazine were big in reminding me about the importance of fishing to socialization, culture, and heritage in Maine.
By rough estimates, I started fishing 40 years ago. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to wet a line in recent years, it remains central to the person I was, the person I am, and, I suspect, the person I will become.
No, this is not a story to match “A River Runs Through It,” the novel and subsequent movie that told of lives and deaths and the lessons learned by fishing a river.
Frighteningly, invasive species are crowding native species from Maine’s streams, ponds, and lakes.
The story of inland fishing is a bit murky. There is some hope and more than a bit of concern.
A Portland Press Herald story told of an effort to restore an ancient fish, the Arctic char, in Big Reed Pond. It is “ancient” because biologists believe the fish has been here since the last ice age. That’s not just your my-bones-hurt-and-feel-ancient sort of ancient. That is seriously ancient.
The problem for the orange-colored char started when a well-meaning sports fisherman introduced rainbow smelt in the water as way to provide more food for the char. But that backfired when the smelt ate small char and the char’s food.
But a state wildlife biologists, a private fishery, local lodge owners, and grants from Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund are slowly making the future brighter for the Arctic char.
George Smith’s DownEast.com blog some time ago focused on fishing. One titled “The battle between natives and those ‘from away’” especially caught my attention, of course, for its use of “from away.” After all, this blog is titled “Letters From Away.”
But I became far more interested in what he had to write about native fish and those that have been illegally or inadvertently introduced into Maine waters than I was with his use of the Mainer phrase for anything not of or from Maine.
Wildlife officials from Maine to California and many other areas in between are facing similar problems – non-native fish and other aquatic life being introduced into waterways and those species forcing out native fish and other aquatic life. Some are introduced by accident when carried on a boat or other gear that was not properly washed down or intentionally introduced by so-called sportsmen believing it would be good to have, say, bass or walleye in a trout habitat. I even found a story about a koi being pulled from a Maine pond. Koi?!
Either way, native species should be given a chance to survive and thrive in their natural habitat.
Here’s something from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website on invasive species:
Invasive species are organisms that are introduced into a non-native ecosystem and which cause, or are likely to cause, harm to the economy, environment or human health. It is important to note that when we talk about a species being invasive, we are talking about environmental boundaries, not political ones. In addition to the many invasive species from outside the U.S., there are many species from within the U.S. that are invasive in other parts of the country.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the only agency of the U.S. Government whose primary responsibility is the conservation of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plants. Because of our responsibilities, the Service is very concerned about the impacts that invasive species are having across the Nation. Invasive plants and animals have many impacts on fish and wildlife resources. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats and compete with our native wildlife and are thus harmful to our fish, wildlife and plant resources.
The website also provides FAQs, resources, laws, and other information.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife also has quite a bit of information. Follow this link and click on “Illegal Fish Stocking” for specific information. There is also information about invasive aquatic plants.
Here are links to some of those stories and blog entries.
It’s always nice to be considered the “friendliest” person on the block. It may be even more compelling to be from the friendliest town in a state.
Well, I’m not from that town, but I was born there. I was born in a hospital that was on a hill overlooking the river that served as the U.S.-Canada border as it flowed through Fort Kent, Maine, one of two cities in the Pine Tree State to claim the title of “The Friendliest Town in Maine.” The other is Wells, on the coast.
At least, that’s according to the DownEast.com trivia question today.
What two towns both lay claim to the title “The Friendliest Town in Maine?”
Fort Kent and Wells
Fort Kent is the city in which my parents went to high school, as I recall, and pretty much was the center of my early years. I recall driving from Portage to Fort Kent to visit relatives and friends and for family functions, to shop, and for medical care – dentist, doctor, and optometrist.
And while our family visited Wells when I was a child and we had a very lovely stay, I do have relatives living in Fort Kent to this day and I most certainly have to give Fort Kent the edge when it comes to friendliness.
Well, perhaps not the agents at the border crossing. They’re not always that friendly.