All Maine Matters

August 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 8      August 2006 FREE

Rural vs. Real
by Michael Pajak

When the editor asked that I write a piece on “any issue you think might of interest to conservatives in rural Maine” I suffered a mild panic attack. At this very moment I am at risk of missing the deadline that I agreed to meet out of fear of insulting the people of Maine who have historically been the backbone of our state.

What the heck do I know enough about to write on that might be of interest to conservatives in rural Maine? I haven’t spent any substantial time north of the “Volvo Line” in years. My family and I have inhabited the People’s Republic of Portland for almost two decades. When we recently decamped from the PRP to find our little piece of the wilderness to raise our youngest boy on we only got as far as Sagadahoc County, just barely across the Kennebec!

The closest I ever get to Washington County is eating blueberries while reading the Calais Advertiser or the DownEast Times. Aroostook County? Please pass the potatoes. I have some cherished photos of my last ascent of Mt. Katahdin and make frequent promises to my boy to take him there if I ever get a vacation. Other than that I haven’t a clue, and cannot even make the claim of being a true Mainer. In fact, by all appearances, I am a member of the group representing the greatest threat to “rural Maine” – a person from away. I’ve even done time in New Jersey! All those excuses aside, I am fortunate to have a great many personal and professional contacts who hail from above the fabled Volvo Line. Most of them tell me that line has been updated from its former demarcation just north of Augusta to somewhere north of Bangor and south of Dover-Foxcroft, perhaps Sangerville or Plymouth. I also hear that the name has been upgraded to reflect today’s more modern standards. The line between the “two Maines” is now called “the Lexus Line.”

During my ruminations for this little excursion north via these pages I had a thought. Perhaps it is time to stop referring to “rural Maine” as such. Down here in the land of subdivisions that are named after either the predominant specie of tree that was removed to make way for cul-de-sacs and three car garages, or the former view that was sacrificed for the three-story McMansion, the term “rural Maine” conjures up images of trailers and inbreeding… a land where the houses are on wheels and cars are up on blocks. In short, the deep south of New England.
It isn’t a pretty image, and I am afraid it taints the way folks down here set policy with regard to how to “deal” with the “problems” up north. As one who toiled away in marketing and sales for too long to admit, I propose an image overhaul.
It is my suggestion that from this point forward whenever referring to the vast majority of the state of Maine, the sparsely populated, economically-challenged region often called “the other Maine,” we call it like it is – The Real Maine.

The increasingly rare areas where rugged individualism has not been usurped by condominium associations; where people still pull logs out of the woods instead of pulling their SUV out of the garage; where men and women haul fish out of the lakes instead of hauling overflowing shopping carts out of Wal-Mart; this is the real Maine.

I would further argue that there is still a significant and growing part of Maine that can be referred to as “rural.” It may surprise you that I consider this last vestige of rurality to be in the southern part of the state. I suggest that in addition to crafting a positive image for the real Maine, a counter-offensive be simultaneously launched on the image of that part of the state that is inhabited by a near-majority of out-of-staters like me. Somewhere just south of the Lexus Line we should begin to refer to the region as “rural Boston.” This new geographic moniker would exemplify the fact that one can practically drive from Camden to Boston and beyond without fear of running out of gas and having to push the car more than a ½ mile for a refill and a can of diet Pepsi.

Adopting this simple semantical change, I feel, will clearly define the debate in the months and years ahead as the people from rural Boston attempt to write legislation, pool financial resources, or take any other myriad measures to set aside large tracts of the real Maine to use as their private wilderness playground, free from human intervention. Or worse, when they simply wish to go to bed at night presuming that they have done their part from their air-conditioned office in rural Boston, to preserve another 202,000 acres of “pristine” forest land, which the state cannot possibly afford to maintain, and which was previously squandered by something as frivolous as supporting the rural lifestyle that was once known throughout the real Maine.

Mike Pajak lives with his family in Days Ferry where they are building a compound in which to weather the future. His e-mail address is

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