Vacationland

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Maine is tucked up in the northeastern corner of the US -– a bit like an appendix, not mainstream, off the beaten path, and somewhat isolated.  It is a perfect place to take time out from the congestion of cities and suburbs and enjoy the abundance of rivers, lakes, coastlines, and forests.  “Vacationland” is printed on Maine license plates.

The people who live here, affectionately called Mainiacs, embrace Maine’s natural resources, but they must earn a living in this remote area. Tourism is one of Maine’s biggest industries and provides work for many of its residents, especially in the summer when the population triples.

Many teenage Maniacs find life here boring and lacking opportunities. They are Maine’s biggest export –- well-educated, high school graduates, who can’t leave the state fast enough to attend college and see what the world is like. 

Jessica Caldwell, a young Mainiac, in her film called “Lobster,” has placed the drudgery of hard labor against the beautiful, natural backdrop of Maine’s coast. A short project created for a class at Columbia University, the fourteen minute film depicts a high school graduate, bored to tears on the last day of her summer job (picking lobster meat to be sold to restaurants).

The girl in the film has taken a fancy to a nice looking young lobsterman and invites him to attend her going away party that evening.  He declines, but he asks her to a special place where they observe the beautiful side of Maine –- the one that surrounds her, and she has taken for granted. 

Jessica, who left Maine for college in NYC, sees herself in the young character in her beautifully photographed film.  Like other young people, she is energized by city life.  She says she will probably not return to Maine to live and work full time, except to produce another film here some day. “In Maine, there is too little opportunity, and it is isolating.”

Jessica and Charlotte Glynn, the film’s director, talked about the warm reception they received during the filming of “Lobster.” It is well known that celebrities who visit or reside in Maine appreciate the respect of privacy shown to them by the locals. As a result, Mainiacs enjoy the added income from film crews and actors when they do arrive.

A good number of artists reside in this state, and I can’t help wonder whether they are driven here for the natural beauty or if nature provides them with inspiration, time, and space they need to be creative.

Imagine how vibrant our communities would become if the young folks, who leave Maine to experience life outside, returned to create businesses and contribute to the economy. If all those Mainiacs did return, what would happen to our lakes, rivers, coastlines and forests? I think they would be just fine.