On Mother’s Day, my wife Linda came out of our bedroom dressed for church in a beautiful new blouse. I complimented her on it and asked her where she got. “I got it at the dump,” she said.

Yup, we are real Mainers, many of whom do a lot of shopping at the dump. Of course it’s now called the transfer station — but we still call it the dump, even though you can no longer shoot rats there, like I did when I was a kid.

The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel sponsor a monthly storytelling project in which you are invited to write a story based on the month’s topic. Some of the stories are published in the paper and they’re all available online. I can tell you, a lot of the stories are very good. You can read them at centralmaine.com/meetinghouse.

This month’s topic was “Real Mainers,” so I’m going to focus this column on that. Nunzi Graciano explained it well, in her story.

“I spent my childhood doing ‘Maine’ things. I learned the ‘Sixteen Counties Song’ in music class, I went to regular bean suppers in our church basement, I begged my mom to let me wear shorts as soon as it hit 50 degrees, I tried Moxie while floating on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake, and I ate my fair share of red hot dogs.

“A true Mainer is hardworking, kind, quick-witted and caring — someone you can always call for help. My parents taught me these traits, but it was teachers, camp counselors and members of my church family who instilled them in me through their everyday actions. No matter where I go in life, I will always be proud to wear my name tag of Bean boots and flannel, and to tell each person I meet, I’m a Mainer.”

Me too, Nunzi. Me too.

Real Mainers grow a lot of their own food. Linda has all kinds of gardens, including raised beds and a large hoop house. We also drink Moxie, even though it tastes horrible. We try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Linda does a lot of sewing, including making some of our clothes.

Real Mainers also eat a lot of wild game meat, which we hunt. It does make me sad that the number of hunters is in decline because there is nothing better than filling your freezer with wild game meat. As a kid I was taught to shoot every deer you saw because every family needed and wanted one.

I love the story of Linda shoveling the deer blood out of our driveway. Our son Josh shot a deer on Thanksgiving morning last fall and our neighbor Justin Brickett came over to help him clean it out and drag it back to our driveway, where they loaded it in Justin’s truck and took it to the butcher.

They did leave quite a lot of blood in the driveway. The next morning, Linda was out shoveling the blood out of the driveway when she looked up and saw a lady approaching. It was a very cold day, so the lady’s face was mostly covered. Linda thought it was our neighbor who hunts herself, so she said, “Don’t mind me. I’m just shoveling blood.”

Well, it was not our neighbor; it was a lady who just purchased the house in the woods across from our house. She was quite taken aback by Linda’s greeting, although she handled it well. Yup, “Welcome to Mount Vernon, where we shovel blood!”

Real Mainers know how to deal with problem wildlife like woodchucks, porcupines and skunks. We shoot them. Real Mainers eat beans and hot dogs every Saturday night (OK, we don’t do that anymore, but I sure did when I was a kid). We also have a wood stove and cut and split our own wood.

Real Mainers also have their own language. Ayuh. And we love to talk Mainer to non-Mainers.

Well, I guess there aren’t many real Mainers left. And I have to admit, some new Mainers are a lot nicer than some real Mainers. In fact, they really love and appreciate our state.

So let’s reach out to welcome them, and grant them the privilege of being real Mainers. Even if they don’t shop at the dump. Maybe we can be Mainahs, and they can be Mainers.

 

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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