This Week in Lincolnville: Living in Vacationland

Diane O’Brien Strikes Again
Sun, 09/17/2023 - 7:30pm

    Every once in a while, This Week in Lincolnville writer emerita, Diane O’Brien, AKA Ma, finds herself with an article in her head. Here are her musings at the end of summer 2023:

    Living in Vacationland, by Diane O’Brien

    I’m hearing it every day – from customers in my shop, visitors to the Historical Society museum, folks sitting on the Beach benches – “we don’t want to leave!” Vacation time is up, summer is ending, school has started. It’s back to reality for our visitors. And reality for most of them is nothing like our reality here.

    It's seemed like an especially busy season this year, though later on we’ll get the actual numbers from the Maine Office of Tourism. Since I live near the Beach the way to either Belfast or Camden is via Atlantic Highway (Route 1) that stretches from Key West to Fort Kent. On many days the line of traffic going south backs up somewhere near Norembega, and heading north into Camden, practically to Hannaford’s.

    If you live almost anywhere else in Lincolnville you probably travel Route 52 in and out of town and miss out on what passes for gridlock in our world.

    So, judging by traffic alone let’s just say there were an awful lot of people here this summer. Creeping through Camden on a bright summer day (yes, there were a couple of those), most folks seemed to be either herding a flock of children across the street and/or carrying shopping bags. Or lined up outside Mariner’s or the Deli, Camden Cone or Riverducks, waiting for something to eat.

    Now we all know the reason for the season – the summer season – is to make enough money to take us through the other three. Or at any rate, the shop and restaurant owners make the money and pass some of it on to the rest of us. But shopping? You come all this way to the coast of Maine to shop??

    I thought the point of coming to Vacationland was to hike up a mountain or walk in a forest, to peer into a tide pool, to look for a moose, or listen to a loon.

    I speak as someone who grew up “down there” or, more specifically, out there in the middle of the Midwest. In a town with curbed streets and stoplights, neatly-mown lawns and leaves raked up into piles. As someone who rode a crowded bus to a job in a tall building, where every single person I encountered was a stranger. And strangers avoided eye contact, even as we sat side by side on that crowded bus.

    I think life looks simpler here to the urban dweller. Our “gridlock” is nothing to the commuting hours they spend sitting in their cars. 

    Leaving Chicago forever and moving to Maine when I was 23 was an intentional decision to go live in Vacationland and never have to leave. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. It’s not all about forests and tidepools, is it?

    Despite my tendency to draw big conclusions based on skimpy facts, I realize that most of our summer visitors do get us, do get this place. One woman, carrying an infant around the Museum the other day said she’d love to move here. When I cautiously asked what it was she wanted, she said “to become part of a community.” Others just plain say they want to stay.

     One group of summer visitors – foreign guest workers – are mostly invisible unless you work in a restaurant. One young woman from Thailand, a college student in Bangkok, stepped off the Concord bus in June to find herself here. Think about it. From a city of 10.7 million people, a hot, tropical country to tiny Lincolnville Beach, a few hundred yards of low, wooden buildings and a sandy beach. Cool and foggy to boot.

    She’d been sent to work in a restaurant through some agency or other for the summer. Imagine the culture shock: language, weather, isolation. Don and I met Tia that very day getting pizza at the Beach store. Over the summer we explored Camden together, she biked up to my house to help me pull weeds, rode up to Don’s to see his barn project, and drove his tractor around the field (she’d never driven). 

    She’s back home now, and not surprisingly, missing Maine. She texted yesterday: “I miss you too Diane !! I miss lobster pound, ocean, the trees- here is crowded of people and sooo busy. I have to study 4 days in a week and do a lot of projects ….”

    So on the other side of the world, another soul dreams of trees and ocean and Maine.

    LCS Sports

    Middle School sports have begun at Lincolnville Central School. LCS has a coed soccer team, led by Coach and Middle School teacher Ben Edes. They played their first two matches last week with a win against Hope and a hard fought loss to Appleton. I have enlisted a soccer parent to hopefully provide me with photos for next week’s column.

    LCS cross-country also had their first meet at home last Thursday. Both the girls and boys teams came in second to Camden Rockport Middle School, with the girls team only 2 points behind CRMS- which is incredibly close if you understand cross-country scoring. With the retirement of LCS Principal Paul Russo, Hope Elementary Principal Danielle Fagonde has stepped up to the coaching position. LCS Cross Country has long welcomed Hope runners. I always love watching sport competition between CRMS, LCS, Hope, and Appleton, knowing that they will all be on the same team upon their advancement to Camden Hills Regional High School.

    Lincolnville Community Library

    This Wednesday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m., photojournalist Tim O’Brien will speak and offer a slideshow of his five year journey to all corners of Maine, as documented in his book The Maine Roadshow: A Roadside Tour of the State's History, Culture, Food, Funk & Oddities. Any of us who have lived here for a bit know just how odd and funky this place can be. Sounds like a talk worth attending.

    Okay Lincolnville, hopefully your power is restored and you have minimal damage to your trees and gardens. Enjoy the week, and maybe I’ll see you at MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair this weekend. I never miss it. Be well and be nice.


    Monday, September 18

    Historical Society Museum open 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road

    Select Board Meeting with Northport Select Board, 6:15 p.m., Northport Town Office, 16 Beech Hill Road, Northport

    Tuesday, September 19

    Library open 3-6 p.m. 208 Main Street

    AA Meeting 12 p.m., Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road

    Wednesday, September 20

    Historical Society Museum open 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road

    Library open 2-5 p.m. 

    Thursday, September 21

    Athletic Infrastructure Committee, 5 p.m., Town Office

    Friday, September 22

    AA Meeting 12 p.m., Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road

    Library open 9-12, 208 Main Street

    Historical Society Museum open 1-4 p.m., 33 Beach Road

    Saturday, September 23

    Lincolnville Center Indoor Flea Market, 8 a.m. to noon in the Community Building. A treasure hunt extraordinaire! Sponsored by the United Christian Church.

    Library open 9-12, 208 Main Street

    Sunday, September 24

    United Christian Church, 9:30 a.m. Worship, 18 Searsmont Road

    Bayshore Baptist Church, 9:30 a.m. Sunday School, 11:00 worship, 2648 Atlantic Highway