Down East 2013 ©
"Define the essence of Maine in a sentence? Sorry, Down Easters. Can’t be done. The state of Maine is at least worthy of a thesaurus and half a Webster’s 1828 dictionary. Would you ask Renoir to paint a portrait using only five brushstrokes or Beethoven to compose a symphony with only a handful of chords? Impossible!”
That was the response of Hank Leonard, of Blacksburg, Virginia, when we asked our readers how they would define “the real Maine.” Based upon the volume of words we received, we are forced to concur with Mr. Leonard. Ask thousands of people about Maine, and you will get thousands of different answers. Some will be celebratory, lyrical, and nostalgic; others tend toward the blunt, hardhearted, and crotchety. On the following twenty-four pages you’ll discover a representative sampling of the many letters sent to us, including quotes from well-known Maine personalities ranging from our governor-elect, Paul LePage, to novelist Stephen King, and from singer Don McLean to domestic doyenne Martha Stewart. You might find a definition of the real Maine that rings especially true to you — or you might not. Reality, we’ve learned, is all in the eye of the beholder.
To make exploration of your answers easier online, we've grouped the most insightful into four big categories:
Read each section and enjoy each set of answers, essays, and thoughts about Maine. And for even more responses, check out More Maine in Your Words , which includes dozens of fabulous responses that we couldn't fit into the issue.