What does Portland, Maine compare to…?
It sits like a yard worker, at the water’s edge, looking out over the harbor, with pant legs frayed over the top of its boots, wearing a sweater soiled and pulled out of shape, with holes not large enough to discard it. And it is eating a gourmet lunch from a high-tech lunchbox.
Portland is a mixture of old and new. The wharves and quays are home to numerous fishing boats, tour companies, ferry boat companies, tugboats, container terminals, and shipyards. And restaurants, bars, yacht brokers, condos, and art galleries add to the juxtaposition like fruit in your oatmeal.
The balmy summer months bring swarming schools of tourists. Some arrive by land, others by sea. Whether they came from Canada or the States, the journey was long, even aboard ferries arriving from Nova Scotia.
In Autumn, the cruise ships dominate the east end of town, spewing thousands of leaf peepers out like immense seahorses giving birth.
Moving up the hillside, downtown is perched – like a mythical Osprey in its nest of tangled twigs. Here 18th century federal style buildings reside uncomfortably beside their multi-storied grandchildren – the proud new generation made from; triple pained glass, brushed stainless steel, and polished basalt. They stands brazenly up to their aging ancestors.
A modern city is rising from the clunky streets, which are disappearing into the sinkholes of time.
Restaurants, micro-breweries, and cyber cafes are numerous. You can find an entire spectrum of fares from every ethnicity on the globe, satisfying every taste. Even a vegan will find an adequate pasture to graze in this town.
Some culinary experts say Portland is second to only San Fransisco. A bold proclamation, but if you consider its resources; the abundance of seafood at its reach, as well as an impressive organic farm movement dominating the land, reports like that are not far stretched.
As for Mainer’s, don’t let their modest demeanor fool you. Hard winters have tempered the constitution of their hearts.
The bounty and beauty of this land keeps them cheerful – but cunning characters for sure, and they dwell beneath veil of childish naivety.
Their greeting to visitors is, “Hi, welcome to Maine” – but I’m certain their smiles have underlying contempt.
Am I being harsh? Maybe.
They are happy to be called, Mainer’s. And they live in a state where the rural beauty remains relatively intact. Ranked the 41 least populated in the country, their pride may be rooted in the knowledge that not many can say that.