The idea of what makes a Mainer intrigues me. Years ago I wrote about authenticity in Maine literature in an essay about E.B. White and R.P.T. Coffin called Two Pigs from Maine. More recently, my colleagues and I in UMaine’s School of Economics wrote about survey research we did on environmental values of Maine citizens. Being a Mainer is clearly not an accident of birth, as I suggested in an earlier blog. So how do you know if you are a Mainer?
You know you are a Mainer if you think Tyvek is an exterior cladding for houses. The ubiquitous grey Tyvek gives years of service until homeowners get around to something more permanent. I have noticed a recent trend for more upscale homeowners to use Zip system for their exterior finish instead of Tyvek. The deep green with black trim is more colorful and might give a decade or more of good service before any shingles are needed.
You know you are a Mainer if you have a love/hate relationship with tourists. Mainers recognize that meals and lodging taxes and gas taxes paid by tourists, and property taxes paid by hospitality industry, all help pay for public services in Maine. (But why aren’t tax rates, like hotel room rates, higher in the busy season?) We love the financial help that comes from tourism, even if we don’t work directly in that industry. At the same time, Mainers love it when the tourists go home and once again we get our beautiful state to ourselves.
You know you are a Mainer if you wonder why schools are closed when there are 6 inches of snow. That doesn’t even count as a snow storm.
You are a Mainer if you think coffee brandy is actually brandy.
You know you are a Mainer if you have two heating systems for your home and you are thinking of adding a third one. Wood stoves, oil burners, pellet stoves, propane heaters, and mini split heat pumps (we just put ours in) are found in multiples in Maine homes. This strategy helps us shift fuel sources in response to higher prices and reflects our continual search for the perfect heating system. Of course, smaller houses and more insulation would help also.
You know you are a Mainer if you no longer notice when black flies bite. The sure sign is for someone to point out the large bite on your forehead or the black fly still clinging to your earlobe, both of which you were unaware.
And finally, should there be any doubt. You know you are a Mainer if, when someone says, “He thinks he’s the cat’s ass,” you know it’s not referring to your kitty’s posterior.