Hancock County: A great place to be at Thanksgiving

It is a woeful world out there, yet here we are in Hancock County, Maine, with plenty for which to be thankful. Let’s count our blessings.

You might think that there is little to be thankful for in the recent election, but you would be wrong. First of all is the fact that we had an election at all, that we were all free to show up and vote without fear, and that we were even free to stay home and ignore it. (Did you? We are not proud of you.)

There was Eliot Cutler, whose independent campaign focused on policy, not politics, and who could not discourage over 41,000 of us from voting for him even after he acknowledged his long odds in the final week before the election. We are thankful for the right to use our vote in the way we see fit.

There was Joe Marshall, resident of Lamoine and candidate for House District 135. Brand new to elections, Joe sent around a home-made mailer saying, “Political posturing and squabbles are counter-productive and I want to be positive and proactive in my approach to getting things done.”

He was true to his word, conducting a calm and gentlemanly campaign, minus the strident ads and rabid language now the accepted political currency. His opponent, incumbent Brian Hubbell, is of the same mind when it comes to elections. Joe recognized this in a graceful thank-you to his supporters last week, saying of Rep. Hubbell, “my respect for him grew every time we had an opportunity to meet.”

Joe says he is “someone who remembers when politics were focused on results rather than positions, that parties matter less than good policies.” Thanks, Joe and Brian, for reminding us that that time is not entirely past.

The entire Hancock County delegation was re-elected by margins that ranged from the comfortable to the whopping. We have appreciated their past efforts, and are thankful for their continued willingness to serve.

We should also be thankful that we came within an inch of getting our wish that a winning governor would earn a majority vote. Governor Paul LePage, with over 48 percent of the vote in a three-way race, now has undeniable legitimacy to take into his second term, bolstered by Republican gains in the Legislature. For the sake of our state, let’s wish his administration well.

How about being thankful for the legions of people around Hancock County who are putting hearts and hands into seeing that everyone eats on Thanksgiving? In church basements, community halls, granges, restaurants and home kitchens, people are bringing together the makings of turkey dinners for friends and neighbors who would otherwise go without. Oh, and tell somebody if you’re cold. We’ll help.

There are our families, whether they are coming or we are going, whom we anticipate seeing with hope and affection. Regardless of how much or how recently they have driven us nuts, offended our spouses or caused us to revert to an earlier — much earlier — stage of development, we are going to great lengths to be together, swearing to be our best selves for the occasion.

Thanks be to our hunters and fishermen, our clammers and wormers, our tippers and loggers who keep Maine’s distinct culture alive. Traps are coming ashore, harbors have emptied out, there are few lighted windows along the shore and plenty of parking spaces in town. Vacationland is entering its quiet phase, and to all the tourists who asked us what we do in the winter, don’t you wish you knew.

To the restaurants and local bars that stick with us after the tourists are gone, thank you for giving us a place to go for an evening out. To the school kids who put on plays and concerts (and to the adults who guide and back them), thank you for the entertainment. Who needs Broadway?

To the people who burst out the door at the first snowflake, cross country skis in hand, or those who eagerly await enough ice to hold up a skater, you are earning winter attitude points in abundance. Tell us all about it when you get home. We’ll be in the kitchen having tea.

To the road heroes who have tow chains and jumper cables and know how to use them, and who never fail to stop for a driver in distress, thank you from those of us who can’t seem to get through a winter without making a bad decision behind the wheel.

Thanks to our libraries, warm and cheerful places where we can get lost in a book, put together a puzzle or dream over a travel magazine. Or, this being 2014, we can borrow a telescope, learn to knit, attend a story-telling or write a novel. And don’t forget our local newspapers, which bring us news daily, weekly or monthly, even when there isn’t any.

For all the things in life that make us mad, or scared, or sick and tired, we have only to look out a window to remind ourselves of our good fortune in having selected or been stranded in this beautiful and mostly benign corner of the planet. Happy Thanksgiving.

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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