Maine grows on me. To me, Maine is like wine; you don’t understand why your parents love it so much when you are younger, but you taste beyond the bitterness and found the muted sweet aftertaste as you grew older.
To be very, very honest, Maine and I did not fall love at first sight. Yes, the snow was fun for the first month; as the snow turn into sludge that makes me slip and tumble every two steps, and long nights in the library feeling like a popsicle. I came from hot places; I hailed from the lively Pearl of the Orient, Hong Kong, and I spent two of my high school years in India, the Land of Spices. Sitting amongst fairy lights doing henna while applying for college, I never envisioned that I would be surrounded by the snow and black ice.
But the little things, the little pebbles of memories that I collected these two years made me love Maine with my heart. I cannot imagine spending my last two years anywhere else.
I remember the morning when I woke up and the trees are frozen in crystals of ice. I remember the night my friend and I stole golden balloons and ran across the fresh snow like in movies. I love autumn in Maine the best. As we drove to Lubec and Eastport last week, the shades of red and orange flew past the car windows, bathing me in a shower of warm colors. We passed lighthouse after lighthouse, gazing lazily at the changing sceneries and talk about the past and future, a future that seem to be so far down the road.
Our lovely instructor Paty!
On the road.
We stopped at different places along the way, observing the different kinds of tides and waves that were just words on the textbooks. There are certain magic in field trips; you bond over the endless drive and hot coffee outside a motel, you really start to view your professor as a friend and companion, and the lessons you learn are the ones you never forgets.
We picked at the thick seaweed and turned the stones, and we found all kinds of life that we would never have noticed. That is the thing I find so admirable about scientists; they spent hours and hours, looking in places that are deemed insignificant by so many others and discover beauty. “And somewhere in there is the truth,” said Paty, our professor. That is the life of a scientist, they spend days and weeks and years looking at numbers in an Excel spreadsheet, and they tell a story through graphs and charts. They are storytellers who stare into the small things and see the universe.
The people you met are the best part of any journey. At the Pumpkinfest this Sunday, you can feel the charm of Maine. The whole place is painted orange with big pumpkins, small pumpkins, large pumpkins, small pumpkins and weird pumpkins, Friendly and creative people came together and made pies, muffins, soups and pancakes, carving pizza ovens, wolves, angry birds and rabbits out of pumpkins. And boats! Can you believe that people made boats out of pumpkins! People even put with motors in them! People race the pumpkin boats! There were 10000 people who watch and cheer on the racers. Even with 10000 people, I still got a good view of the event; this is the kind of place Maine is, people will be willing to let you stand in front of them to view a pumpkin boat race, a place where a complete stranger will stop and talk to you at the supermarket and talk about mangoes. Maine is a crazy place, a place filled with crazy amount of warmth, despite the fact that it is buried in snow for four months in a year.
All these tiny pearls of memories string together into a precious necklaces. I am sure I am going to be one of those weird old ladies with tons of strange story to tell to bored grandchildren; the times when I walking down a highway at 3am in Hong Kong, the times when I screamed at pink and purple lightening in India, and the times I was in Maine. Beyond the lobsters, beyond the maple syrup, beyond the lighthouses, the Maine that was the coldest and the warmest at the same time.