We who live in the Great State of Maine are blessed with a host of advantages that people in other places can only dream of.

For instance, as an amateur astronomer, I sometimes take for granted the pristine nighttime skies over my Waldo home. We in Maine can go outside on a clear night and without any optical assistance, see the faintest of constellations, numerous star clusters, the Andromeda Galaxy the most distant deep-space object visible to the naked eye and of course, the Milky Way, our home galaxy.

Probably none of this sounds very special to we Mainers, but to people in other states, it’s a very big deal. I recently read in an astronomy magazine that the majority of people in the United States have never seen the Milky Way. Can you imagine that? Light pollution from countless towns, cities and even sprawling sub-developments wash out all but the brightest heavenly objects. It seems terribly sad, but it is true nonetheless.

Plentiful Water

Then we have our plentiful, clean water. Sure, some localized pollution exists, but for the most part, our wells and reservoirs are surprisingly clean. Besides that, we have lots of water. Droughts, as such, are uncommon. In fact, this year, excess rainfall washed into inshore regions of upper Penobscot Bay, lowering the salinity. This in turn drove mackerel out into the deeper, saltier water. But better to sometimes have too much water than not enough.

Contrast this to western states. Who hasn’t seen the news photos of lakes, or what once were lakes, bone dry, with hard, cracked mud bottoms baking in the sun? That just does not happen here in Maine.

Likewise, our aquifers are not in any danger of going dry, because compared to other states, Maine doesn’t exert undue pressure on them. Heck, we only have about one million people, more or less. In some places, one city has a far larger population than that.

My own well, one I dowsed for and dug out myself, never goes dry and even during the hottest, driest summers, only goes down by about two feet. I can water my garden with impunity, every day if I wish, and it does not harm my well. That is a real big deal, if you ask me.

Killer Storms

Then we have violent weather. Sure, we sometimes experience “micro-bursts,” sudden downpours accompanied by heavy winds. I got caught in one of these once while out in my boat. The boat swamped, but I made it to shore and eventually got rescued. But this doesn’t happen much. In essence, our weather poses few threats.

Sometimes a small tornado, barely worthy of the name, will briefly touch down in Maine. This usually happens in wooded areas and I can’t remember ever hearing about anyone being injured by a tornado in Maine. I recall that a house trailer down in Jefferson got knocked down by a small tornado back in the 1970s, but I don’t remember hearing about any injuries. Essentially, Maine is not tornado country.

Then we have hurricanes. So often we in Maine get all wound up over an approaching hurricane, mostly because of news coverage of storms moving up the coast. We buy candles, kerosene lamps, flashlight batteries, food and other supplies in anticipation of the weather event. But even when a severe hurricane causes inestimable devastation to states to our south, Maine usually escapes with only minimal damage.

The severest weather I can recall was the 1998 ice storm. And even that was a freak event. I was without power for two weeks and many went without juice far longer. But we made it through in pretty good shape. Neighbors helped each other and those such as me who had woodstoves and gas ranges, were able to cook and keep warm. It was a nuisance to melt snow for water, but in comparison to weather-related problems people in other states must endure, it was quite insignificant.

Peaceful living

So many people in so many places live like sardines in a can, packed tightly together. We don’t need to live that way and do so mostly by choice. Maine, being primarily a rural state, offers plenty of elbow room for everyone.

For instance, I like people okay and neighbors are fine, as long as they remain at a distance. Which explains why I built my house far off the road, where no one’s outside light shines in my window at night. I can’t see any house or road from my place and such privacy is very important to me. Anyone in Maine has the option to live in a similar setting.

For those who live inland but love visiting the sea, most towns on the coast have public access points to the shore. In many cases, these are a continuation of colonial statutes which mandated that municipalities maintain public access to the shore for the purposes of “fishing, fowling, and harvesting seaweed and shellfish.”

It is entirely possible for anyone to walk down to some undeveloped shoreline and have the place all to themselves. That, too, is probably a big deal, although most of us haven’t thought about it in that light.

Personal freedoms

In Maine, we take our personal freedoms to heart. An independent bunch, we are, and we don’t like being dictated to. No one here can tell us what color to paint our house, when to mow our lawn or whether or not we may fly an American flag in front of our houses.

Maine still allows something called, “permissive trespass.” This means that anyone may venture upon undeveloped land as long as it isn’t posted. Of course it is always best to have permission, but nonetheless, it is nice to know that if we wish to take a stroll on some undeveloped, non-posted woodland, we may legally do so. If asked to leave, then we must leave. So the law works well for both landowner and visitors. I understand from people I meet who come here from other states that permissive trespass is unheard of in other places.

Like-minded

One of the nicer things about our state is that the majority of people are like-minded. It makes little difference if we find ourselves in Portland or Pembroke, we’ll meet people who speak, act and think the same way we do.

In years past, I have found myself stuck along the road in various parts of Maine. And I never worried, because I knew that sooner or later someone would come by and offer to either give me a lift or tow my car out of the ditch. Maine is by-and-large a friendly state.

So when winter storms rage, which they soon will, don’t complain. Just think about all the good things that we Mainers enjoy and the snow, wind and cold will seem trifling by comparison.