PRIVACY PLEASE - CUSHING, MAINE

This coastal town has a population of 1500, but it can feel more like 15, which I imagine is the draw for the people that live here. It’s a quiet setting far from the tourist and daily commuter traffic of Route One, where a few roads run across open fields, through dense pines and along the water of the St. George River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The asphalt roads ultimately turn to dirt and they all end at the shoreline.

It’s a private place and the private people live in homes set off from the road on top of a hill overlooking the bay, or down a long dirt path that disappears in the woods to a camp on the cove’s edge. They’re afforded sweeping views across the wide, salty river on a clear day, or just as easily it could be 20 yards of visibility into a wall of fog that sits for days straight and puts one more layer between neighbors.

They didn’t settle here for the nightlife. They meet each other at the one general store where they fill their cars with gas and collect diesel for their boats, or buy fresh halibut for dinner if they didn’t already catch some themselves. The young girl behind the counter tells you she’s going to the city for school this fall just in case you assumed she’d spend her life here, and when you ask which city she replies Springfield, Mass.

They congregate with their trucks down at the cove’s end where the coming tide can’t come anymore. And when it goes out they walk out with it and I imagine they make small talk while the mud sucks at their boots as they bend over with a clam rake, slowly working their way further out towards the sea, moving slowly away from each other until there’s no more talk but just the steady sound of metal moving through wet mud and stone.

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Guide to the Northeast Brett Klein lives in Connecticut and works in New York, but prefers small town life and his home state of Maine. Any chance to get rural is a mental vacation. Follow Klein on Tumblr at The Coast is Clear. His curatorial collection of Americana, rural life, other artists and ephemera can be seen on Tumblr at Tons of Land.

LITCHFIELD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT

Connecticut’s largest county, Litchfield, is also its least populous. Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, bordering both New York and Massachusetts, Litchfield is fairly rural with lots of farmland and small town centers that look and feel like they were plucked from a Norman Rockwell painting—which they certainly could have been, as Rockwell’s home was not far away in Stockbridge, Mass. 

Connecticut has over 500 miles of dirt roads and you’ll find the majority of them here in Litchfield. In the summer this is an area that city people retreat to, to breathe the fresh air of the outdoors that the county offers with its camping and hiking; taking advantage of the Berkshire Mountains, the Housatonic River, the antique stores and the farmers markets. 

In the winter, Litchfield seems more isolated and it becomes apparent why private schools like Kent and Hotchkiss are situated in an area that is so quiet, removed from anything that might distract from their studies. It’s a quiet time of year; the farmers’ fields seem larger and the woods seem deeper without their foliage, and the deer have fewer places to hide.

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Guide to the Northeast Brett Klein lives in Connecticut and works in New York, but prefers small town life and his homestate of Maine. Any chance to get rural is a mental vacation. Follow Klein on Tumblr at The Coast is Clear. His curatorial collection of Americana, rural life, other artists and ephemera can be seen on Tumblr at Tons of Land.

OYSTERTOWN - CONNECTICUT

NORWALK (Ind.: Norwaake, or Naramake) is an industrial city, spreading across both sides of the island-fringed harbor of the Norwalk River.

— Connecticut, A Guide To Its Roads, Lore, and People (WPA, 1938)

Norwalk, once nicknamed Oystertown, is part of Connecticut’s Fairfield County, also referred to as “The Gold Coast” because of the immense wealth of its residents who live in the various storybook towns and houses dotting the Atlantic coastline. Norwalk, however, doesn’t quite share the same qualities as most of these towns. It still very much reflects its blue-collar history, the opposite of the town’s white-collared neighbors Westport, Darien, New Canaan, and Wilton. 

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Guide to the Northeast Brett Klein lives in Connecticut and works in New York, but prefers small town life and his homestate of Maine. Any chance to get rural is a mental vacation. Follow Klein on Tumblr at The Coast is Clear. His curatorial collection of Americana, rural life, other artists and ephemera can be seen on Tumblr at Tons of Land.