Maine's Secret Places
Editor-in-Chief Paul Doiron reflects on revealing some of Maine's prettiest places.
My wife is only joking (I think). But there's a lot of truth to Yogi Berra's famous dictum - "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" - especially in the magazine business. When you write about a special place, there's always the real possibility that it will soon be overrun with curiosity seekers. In the case of a community like Monhegan that thrives on tourism, the call is an easy one: of course, we're going to publicize the island.
But what about small and fragile places like local land preserves, scenic hilltop lookouts and, ahem, hidden beaches? To a great extent, the value of these places derives from their relative secrecy. They're only popular because nobody goes there.
For the editors of Down East, deciding which places to write about and which to leave alone is always an excruciating test. (There are still people who blame an article we wrote in the 1990s for making reservations at Cobscook Bay State Park so hard to get. We say Outside magazine was the real culprit.) We're in the business of celebrating the best of Maine, and yet we'd hate to be the ones who opened the floodgates on a sweet little fishing hole, ruining it forever.
For our part as journalists, we just try to balance exposure with discretion. It is our firmly held belief that Maine taxpayers have a right to enjoy the natural resources they are helping to fund. So we don't think we're spilling secrets to recommend a little-known public beach to our readers - and all twelve of the beaches in our article are either publicly owned or openly advertise public access. But if a land trust tells us that one of its delicate preserves can't absorb an onslaught of hikers, we respect its wishes and don't mention the trail in our pages. The concept of loving a place to death is very real, after all.
That's why I promised my wife to never, ever write about Monhegan.
- By: Paul Doiron