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The other day I got a call from a producer at a radio talk-show in St. Louis, MO. He said that every week for a year the station was doing a feature on one of the 50 states and this particular week it was Maine’s turn. He said he read online that I had written a Maine Dictionary and book of Maine Trivia and wanted to know if I would provide him with information about our state.
I proceeded to tell the producer things his listeners might want to know about Maine.
We call our state Maine, I told him, but no one knows exactly how we ended up with that name, so I told him not to ask. I added that we will listen to any plausible explanations his listeners might have.
I said our state has about 1,274,923 people but let him know that didn’t count what we call “summer complaints.’
He was glad to hear our population numbers but like most people, he wanted to know about our moose. I let him know that Maine had about 30,000 mostly healthy moose. Then, of course, he asked about lobsters. I said we have more than enough for anyone who wants one, and I gave him an 800 number his listeners could call to have lobsters overnighted to St. Louis.
“How large is Maine?” he asked.
Maine has 33,275 square miles of land. Fortunately, most of it is above sea level at high water. I said, “we’re proud of the fact that a few of those 33,275 square miles of land are actually owned by Maine people.” Highest point is Mount Katahdin at 5,268 feet. Maine’s lowest point is sea level and – for some – the first day of tourist season.
When he asked where to go for further information I said his listeners should get here first, then turn off their GPS gizmos and ask a colorful native for information and/or directions. I let him know they might not arrive at their destination, but it’ll be an authentic Down East experience.
Well, then he wanted to know what someone should pack before coming to Maine.
“As little as possible,” I said. We prefer that folks bring NOTHING with them and plan to buy everything they need while her, I told him. Just bring money and credit cards. Lots of both. If you insist on luggage you might want a suitcase with wheels. If you’re planning to visit one of our wilderness areas, you might want luggage with four-wheel drive and a power take-off. A hook and cable might also come in handy.
What should people wear? I said the only thing certain about Maine weather is that there’s nothing certain about it. Even people who are paid good money to predict our weather have no idea what it’s going to do from one minute to the next. So what chance do the rest of us have?
In coastal towns fishing boots and foul weather gear are acceptable in restaurants and shops, just as logging outfits are considered proper in Maine’s western hill country.
Even in summer you’ll be some glad you have a few sweaters, sweat shirts and heavy jackets with you. Bringing all kinds of rain gear will almost guarantee you one dry sunny day after another. Conversely, if you don’t have a stitch of waterproof clothing you’re begging for non-stop rain and banks of fog that will be– as Kendall Morse would say – “thicker than three in a bed.”
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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