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All the newspapers in Maine are running articles this spring about things like “stacations” – which means staying home during your vacation week instead of going off to some far-off, exotic place like Branson, Missouri and spending all kinds of money you don’t have. “Travel experts” are also going on about how you should make your backyard a “destination.” Maybe not a destination as exciting and exotic as Branson but as exciting as you can afford to make it, which probably isn’t too exciting now that I mention it.
True Mainers know that there’s not a lot that’s new about such ideas. A lot of Maine people have been staying home for years and they didn’t need some expert to tell them about it. And another thing, we don’t have backyards in Maine we have dooryards and they’re quite different.
The way a lot of Mainers feel, after putting up with almost six months of winter why leave Maine just when things start getting decent? It’s no secret that anyone to our south who can afford it will be heading to Maine this summer – like they’ve done for over 100 years - because they know Maine’s one of the best places on the planet to spend the warm days between May and October. Why should us natives leave our beloved state to a mob of summer-complaints?
Another reason real Mainers think long and hard about leaving in summer is economic – as most human activities usually are. Most Mainers know that May marks the beginning of lawn sale season and many families make a good chunk of their annual income running well-stocked, endless yard sales from now right through leaf season.
And speaking of destinations, there are dooryards here in Maine that would rival some of the wonders of the ancient or modern world. There are dooryards in this state that I’d drive a few hours just to see and would even pay a modest fee for a tour.
These so-called experts are telling people save a lot of money and, in some cases, avoid the frustration of traveling and just stay home and renovate your home so that you can be comfortable and get the maximum enjoyment out of your investment.
What are these so-called experts thinking? I’d be willing to bet that a week at a campground is a whole lot cheaper than renovating your house, even if you get your unemployed nephew and his friends to do it for you.
The author of one article suggested creating a resort-style backyard (or dooryard).
He suggests having a pool in your yard as a focal point. I guess he doesn’t feel that an engine block from an old Chevy – the kind that many Mainers have as focal points in their yard - is good enough. If you have a covered patio – this author says - just add some drapes between the posts for a dramatic look. Somehow I can’t see people Down East rushing out to do something like that.
A gazebo is suggested as another option. They’re said to be available almost everywhere in many styles and price ranges. If you’re a fisherman, I suppose you could use something like a gazebo in the off season to stow your gear.
Despite the experts and their advise, Mother and I are planning to have a traditional Maine summer. Have a big yard sale in August, go to some bean suppers on weekends and get up to camp as often as we can.
It might not be the kind of summer the travel experts would approve of but I’m sure we’ll enjoy it, even wihout a gazebo.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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