In January—the time when one year turns into the next—it always seems like a good time for reflection. A few days ago my wife and I were remembering exactly where we were one year ago. We had actually been worlds apart on opposite ends of I-95. She remembered she had just completed her second half-marathon down in Florida, while I remembered my decision to put some mental and physical distance between the old and the new. I was literally between jobs and hoping to clear from my head any clutter that might still exist from my previous employment so I decided to head Downeast to my favorite place… Maine.
The term Downeast, or Down East, can refer very specifically to the coastal region of the state between Penobscot Bay and the Canadian border, however these days it’s used more generally to simply describe coastal Maine. The word has been around for some time, originating with sailors leaving Boston ports who observed southwesterly winds pushing their schooners “downwind” and towards the east, hence the term Downeast.
So that’s the direction I chose to go to clear my head. I left my home in Connecticut and headed Downeast, back to my native state. Maine is a great place to be any time of year, but the dead of winter is one of my favorites because it seems more authentic than other seasons. All the tourists have left. All the folks “from away” left their summer homes when the weather showed signs of bitter. The region is literally more barren and you can see the bones of the state as the sea wind strips the land bare for all to see.
After a quick stop in Portland I continued to follow the coastline and holed up in a small apartment above the Owls Head post office. Owls Head is a town so small and removed that the post office and the general store are the only public buildings in the town center. The renovated post office was originally an old 19th century barn from a nearby island. It was brought to mainland Owls Head and began its life as the town post office in 1931. If you’re looking for a slice of solitude, this is it: Downeast Maine in winter. While time slowed down to the pace of the occasional snowflake, I spent a few days driving and photographing, capturing that space between last year and the next one.
Happy New Year.
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Maine State Guide 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.