Driving to work the other day, I passed a sign outside a restaurant in Woolwich. "The real Maine starts here!" it announced in no uncertain terms. Oh really?
If you want to start an argument among Mainers and those who love Maine, ask them where Down East Maine begins. Not the bridge in Kittery, but the "real Maine" of picturesque coves where lobsterboats outnumber pleasure craft and pulp trucks rule the highway and people really do say "Ayuh." Call it Mythical Maine, if only because it seems to lie just over the next bridge from wherever you are, someplace known but never seen.
I used to work for a man who insisted Maine really started in Cape Porpoise, because that was the next village up from his family's summer home in Kennebunkport. A coworker once tried to convince me it started in Yarmouth, because it was the town farthest from his orbit during his Portland childhood. Besides, it had the Clam Festival. Growing up in Belfast, I always waffled between Rockland and Searsport. These days, I lean toward Bath, although I like to think the real Maine starts at the shipyard in Kittery — doesn't get more Maine than that.
Who knows, maybe the real Maine really does start in Woolwich. Of course, that implies there's an "unreal Maine" as well. There's a comment box at the end of this column. What do you think?