How we survive in a small town

This Week In Lincolnville: Getting By

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 10:00am

    Growing up in this little town in the 1970s and 1980s, I was surrounded by hard working people. Raising my own children here in the 2020s is no different. We are all just trying to get by.

    But far from the cities, we sometimes have to get a bit creative.

    I am the child of a schoolteacher and principal., who spent his summers working at the State Park, mowing lawns, milking his own dairy cow, raising pigs and chickens, doing whatever it took to pay the bills and feed three hungry boys.

    He was at least given a year round guaranteed salary, unlike many. And of course there was my mother, “a housewife”, who wrote, wove, sold milk and eggs, and kept everything running. Fishing, harvesting timber, carpentry, caretaking the homes of the summer people. These are traditional industries for the people of small town, coastal Maine.

    Yes, in 2023, there are a few more options, but I think that we continue a tradition of getting by. We may have a primary source of income, but we often take a little “side hustle” — caring for our neighbor’s children, snowplowing, growing Christmas Trees, writing a weekly column for the local news site…. 

    A post on social media by a local business this week hit close to home. In it, the business made it clear that it needed to crack down on people not showing for their appointments.

    So many small businesses are providing services, be they dog groomer or dentist, and when the client doesn’t show, they are left with a period of time which they will not be paid for.

    Most small businesses in this town are actually small — sole proprietorships, or with only a handful of employees. I hope to spotlight some of these businesses in future columns.

    In the meantime, please be respectful of those providing services.

    Maine is ranked #5 in the number of entrepreneurs by population, according to I take this to mean that a heck of a lot of us have decided to work for ourselves. We don’t have a lot of large employers, so we make ends meet on our own terms. As someone who took the plunge into self-employment eight years ago, this is both liberating and terrifying.

    The upheaval of the last few years led to a new kind of work – remote. I used to look forward to snow days, when neither I nor my clients could get to my office. Not any more. Most of my clients meet with me on Zoom anyway. My wife can choose everyday whether she goes into the office or does her work from home, surrounded by dogs…. And so much empathy for those who do so surrounded by children. Especially on those snow days. 

    Of course this is not an option for many, whose work requires them to be there in person, regardless of weather or spiking infections. Be kind. The horror stories I have heard from retail and restaurant and healthcare workers over the last few years are incredibly disturbing. We are all just trying to get by.

    Don’t take your frustrations out on the person behind the counter.

    I saw a social media post from a new-ish neighbor this week that I just loved. A former Wall Street finance dude, now working at Windward Gardens, following his move to Lincolnville. He writes: “YOU TOO CAN QUIT YOUR BORING A** FINANCE JOB AND BECOME A DIETARY TECHNICIAN AIDE AND FEEL LIKE YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONE’S LIFE.”

    So great. I think he’ll fit in nicely here.


    Walking outside Tuesday morning and finding a good four inches of ice pellets was annoying to my adult brain, who needed to figure out how I was going to get at least one of the vehicles out so I could get to the office. But, honestly, my first thought, courtesy of eight year old Eddie, was “man, this is perfect sledding snow!” 

    We are not blessed with big sledding hills here at Sleepy Hollow. But my brothers and I made due with the gentle inclines the back pasture provided, and the more ice the better. But if a ride could be negotiated to get me to my buddies up on High Street. That’s where the prime sledding was. Memories of making massive jumps, risking life and limb. That time a wayward trip down the hill landed one of us into a stream not yet frozen over….

    And sledding adventures did not end with the elementary years.

    “Combat Sledding” was the term my early 1990s punk friends labeled our after school expeditions to a now off-limits hill, where we would proceed to beat on each other with the idea that the last to still be on their sled by the bottom of the hill would be declared winner.

    There may have been a few (several) minor injuries. And I cannot confirm or deny a trip after dark with my older brother and his friends to the biggest snow hill in Camden, where I may or may not have experienced the two most epic sled runs of my life before, allegedly, the Camden Police may have moved us along.

    Fortunately, there remain a few amazing hills that are welcoming to sledders today. I am curious about your favorites. As always, I can be reached at

    Thunder Valley Mower Racing

    Continuing the theme of winter activities, Thunder Valley Mower Racing remain hopeful that the ice will finally get thick enough for the return of ice racing, a weekend staple on Norton’s Pond in Lincolnville Center the last couple years. Check them out on Facebook . A bunch of local folk racing souped up lawnmowers — what’s not to love? I am not ashamed to admit that I am OK with some cold temperatures for a bit, to firm up that ice. Also, I really want to spend some time in the ice tent, reading a book, and maybe catching a fish or two….

    Lincolnville Library News

    Shiela Polson writes:

    “The library will host Elizabeth Garber on Thursday, January 26 at 7 p.m. for an illustrated talk on her book Sailing at the Edge of Disaster: A Memoir of a Young Woman’s Daring Year!

    “Elizabeth will tell the story of how her domineering father sent his “problem children”—17-year-old Elizabeth and her 14-year-old brother Woodie—to a school on a sailing ship in 1971 so they could “shape up and learn to work.”

    “As they scoured the decks, learned to splice ratlines, and climbed the rigging, they also survived an act of piracy, a near-sinking, and being held hostage by armed gun boats.  The book chronicles a transformative year in the throes of late adolescence that leads to courage, grace and a reclamation of selfhood. 

    “Elizabeth is also the author of Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter. She has published three books of poetry and her poems have been included in several journals and anthologies. She has given other programs at the library and this promises to be another excellent one! 

    “Those attending are asked to please wear face masks. For more information, call 706-3896 or email ”

    OK, Lincolnville. Take care of each other, take care of yourselves