Second Honor Essayist Katie Forrest's Farewell Remarks
I have always had trouble explaining to people where I am from. How do you explain the quirkiness and the beauty of small-town coastal Maine in just a few words? When people ask you where you live, it's often an ice breaker, a question to fill an awkward silence, but if someone really wanted to know, this is what I would tell them.
I am from the land of Bert and I, Blueberries for Sal, and Burt Dow, Deep-water Man. I'm not sure you could find it on a map, but I'll tell you a bit about it.
It's a place where fall means running half a mile up a dirt road from my little house in the woods to catch the school bus, waving frantically so that the bus driver will see me and stop ... and sometimes he doesn't. It's the smell of freshly waxed school hallway floors, but it's also slipping a canoe into still, misty waters to pick blueberries growing on the edges of the lake.
Winter means going to bed to a silent snow, hoping for feet of powder and news of school cancellation upon waking up. And sledding on the unplowed dirt road with neighbors. Of course, the snow also could mean no electricity for days--cooking and eating by candlelight and dipping buckets into the well for water. Winter means a frozen lake, skating for miles between cattails. And winter means the insanity of plunging in the ocean on New Year's, or any wintry day.
With spring come owls hooting, woodcock strutting, the opening of the Fishnet and free ice cream, and the appearance of tidy rows of stacked lobster traps--in side yards, dooryards, and on docks. They disappear slowly as the harbor starts filling with boats.
It's a place where summer means work and people from away. Moose walking through the front yard, the smell of pine needles on a hot day, and a plunge into the ocean that is not QUITE as cold as it was in winter.
When fall comes back around again, it means the return to school, seeing the familiar faces I have known for years. These faces have changed over time, we have all watched each other grow up here together, and now we will grow up apart. We will return occasionally, all coming together again at a basketball game over winter break or bumping into each other at Curtis Cove over summer vacation. There is no doubt that when we return, we will find a familiar face.
This place is where my mom talks to EVERYONE in the grocery store, and then my dad does it, and lately I've discovered I know everyone there, too.
It's where bumper-stickered pickup trucks park in the school lot next to sketchy olf Volvos and Subarus, where Engine Tech is taught side-by-side with AP Calc, artists have meals with mechanics, and scientists and carpenters run together. It's a place where the kids you played soccer against in middle school are now the kids on your team.
People say you can't get there from here, but what we have gotten from here, we can take with us anywhere.