“Haven” on Earth
I stumbled upon a cabin/cottage design online the other day.
Designed and built by a Mainer, it boils "home" down to the essentials while remaining homey and touching that "Oh, yeah" in our inner ancestry.
Off-grid and self-sustaining – unplugged from dependence on the outside, it strikes that chord, that Mainer gene that resonates with “I want to own my life.”
The first essential to creating your Haven on Earth is to find land in Maine. We Mainers, still here or elsewhere, know this, but keep it a secret from flat-landers. Most flat-landers would turn their noses up at such simple dwellings, not to mention feeling like fish out of water to be surrounded by forest and sky and neighbors further away than a few yards or scrunched together in concrete jungles. They tend to be herd animals. Independence is frightening. That’s a good thing. Keeps a lot of ‘em away. Problem is, when some feel the tug of long-ago primal instincts and decide they want to leave their manmade communities and come up here to live "the good life.”
There are two kinds of flat-landers who move to Maine. There’s those that really understand the simpler, realer life most Mainers espouse, and there’s those that, soon’s they get here, start trying to bring all the crapola from Flatland with ‘em. They get on city councils and planning boards and are determined to "civilize" us. (We all know the classic example of those who buy a spot of land next to the generations-old dairy farm and then start complaining and suing because "it smells!")
The latter group, thankfully, more often give up in a couple years, and go back to Flatland. (Don’t let the door…)
The first kind of imports really settle down and join in. They relax and take root and become natives, at least in spirit. We all know that one has to have roots back a couple hundred years or more to become a legitimate Mainer.
But Mainers are a friendly lot. I remember when I first came back t’home 30+ years ago with one of my sons and my little girl. When walking down the sidewalk into town or on walking/driving on a country road and people would wave to us, my son would ask: “Who was that?”
To my “I don’t know” he would ask: “Then why did they wave to us?” (This would definitely not happen in California, where we had lived the 10 years before moving home. In California, as in many other states, a newcomer would have to first prove themselves worthy before being accepted. In Maine, you are accepted as a friend until you prove otherwise.)
I posted the little cabin I mentioned on FaceBook, and a friend in Denmark even contacted me to find out where it was. (He’s originally a Utah native, but married a Danish gal and has lived there for some 40 years.) The cabin and its independence appealed to him, and he’s thinking about making a visit to scope Maine out. However, his wife won’t fly over water if she can help it and she’d never live anywhere but Denmark, so we won’t be getting a new settler from Denmark anytime soon. But the urge to live simpler and closer to woods, sky and independence still lies deep in the heart of man.
Take, for example, the tourists who invade us every year. They save all year to be able to escape their lives and come to Maine to enjoy our way for a couple weeks. They yearn for the day they can retire here and live as we do year ‘round.
The only regret I have about moving home t’Maine is that I didn’t do it years earlier. I’m not off the grid, but I do have my little haven in the woods. I look out the windows and see only forest and sky – and this morning a nice, plump partridge sitting on a branch just six feet from the window. Would love to’ve had him in my frying pan. I do have my wood stove and kerosene lamps that allow me to stay home in cases of long blackouts. So I’m halfway to independence - and a long way from the din of "civilization."
And I thank God each and every day for my little Haven on Earth.
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.