By Beth Warner
The sign at Maine’s border reads, “Maine: The Way Life Should Be.” Maine leads. We’ve led the way repeatedly. We’ve produced leaders. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith snuffed out McCarthyism and Sen. Ed Muskie overturned Nixon’s veto of the Clean Water Act. Maine is blessed with a clean, healthy environment. Maine has coon cats, but Mainers are cool cats; rugged, tolerant folks with a dry, clever sense of humor. Maine has a long history of relying on seasonal income, summer residents, visitors and tourism. Mainers grouse but welcome those “from away.” Mainers are wicked smaht.
Helen Reddy’s words apply to Mainers. Our brutal winters create “wisdom born of pain” but we “can do anything.” We are “strong” and “invincible.” Two solid local women recently accomplished unthinkable swims never before attempted. The intense dedication of Puranjot Kaur and Sage Dentremont compelled, inspired and brought people together supporting good causes.
For four years, we’ve been reduced to enduring laziness and horrific lies. It is easy to lie. It’s hard to tell the truth and work, but we can. We must.
Much of what our nation valued went missing. We put a man on the moon by shooting guys up in tin cans and brought them back to earth safely. We can return to relying on science and put this lousy pandemic to bed. We can build our economy back, end racism, help refugees, conserve our planet’s fragile environment, protect rights, provide affordable health care and improve our relations internationally. We can. We must.
While walking today, thousands of oak leaves suddenly swirled across my path, pushed by a blast of unexpected wind. Magically caught up together in one enormous mass, they became airborne, all those crinkly golden–brown individual papery leaves lifted up together. MDI can work together, too.
We can eliminate all single–use plastics entirely. We can replace income lost and end cruise ship predation by cleverly creating a downtown pedestrian mall. Bar Harbor embraces all the elements studies prove are necessary for pedestrian mall success. Let’s upgrade our superb Island Explorer to provide transportation to popular ANP locations and end gridlock. When Katahdin Woods and Waters becomes a national park, let’s be ready. We can explore bullet trains on high speed rails, connecting here to there, boost economies of both communities, expand sustainable tourism, create new green jobs and solve housing problems.
The leaves have dropped. Winter is almost here. It’s challenging and difficult, but a gift, the present of time, the opportunity to slow down, repair, rejoin, discuss, prepare. If Maine is a treasure, then MDI is the crown jewel. Let’s lead and find the best sustainable ways to support Maine seasonal industries because more Americans will be coming to Maine to restore health.
Let’s begin. Let’s unify. Let’s help our nation recover. Let’s pave the way and demonstrate how wicked smaht Mainers can be. We can. We must.
Beth Warner resides in Bar Harbor