I am writing to simply say I greatly enjoyed your column “My happy Maine anniversary” (Rock Bound, September issue). I was enjoying reading your essay—Deer Isle is my ancestral home, both parents born and raised there, and I got a tingle.
But then you went and done it. You decided of all places to buy land, you chose Beautiful Beloved Belfast, the little city that could. The place where my father worked to support his family (at Dutch Chevrolet; our family home was in nearby Prospect). The stamping grounds of my youth and then the location of my wedding reception (Jed’s Restaurant, now a bowling alley).
Belfast. Even in its rougher days, there was a spirit there that was cultural and edgy in the best of ways. I remember when I was a student at Bucksport High School in the mid 1970s, we thespians were lucky to get six rows of attendees at our plays.
And Belfast? Literally the line to get into their plays would be stretching into the parking lot. The Broiler Festival (Waldo Chick, the head honcho with his famed barbecue techniques all over New England; I live just five minutes from his farm here in Wells and am very good friends with the couple who lives there and who were like family to him.) The riverside concerts, the Chorale, the bookstores. It is where we shopped for any goods we needed—farm tools, clothing, groceries.
Even in its rougher days, there was a spirit there that was cultural and edgy in the best of ways.
While I was growing up in Prospect, the population was 406 (and that number might have included a cow or two). I worked locally as a secretary in Searsport for a couple of years, but in typical youthful thinking, yearned for the bright lights and fast pace of a “real” city. So off I went to Portland where I had a fine time.
Six years later, I was flirting with going back “home,” only to go to a dance one night where I met my husband (37 years and counting). He had land in Wells so I’ve been here since.
But I confess this. About a half-dozen years ago, the longing to go back home came roaring fiercely back. And so I asked him if we could move to Belfast. And he said OK. Egads! But for a variety of reasons, after giving the matter serious thought, I believe I was romanticizing such a move. You have heard it said, “You can never go back home again.” Some truth to that, I believe. So here we stay.
Life in Wells is nice enough. And what I have learned over the years (especially since buying a little camper trailer and traversing this state of ours), is that all of Maine is beautiful, magical, and stunning. Despite what you or others may have heard, Southern Maine has many quiet spots rich with Mother Nature’s blessings. You just have do a little digging.
A yearly (and sometimes more frequently) stop in Belfast is a must-do when I am visiting family in the Bucksport/Orland area. Just last weekend my husband and I had yet another glorious bicycle ride on the rail trail.
So count yourself very lucky that Maine charmed you. And your choice of where to settle is—without question—top notch.
Lucy Webb Hardy lives in Wells.