Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Married Maine

Ross and I just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary, which coincides with the 28th year of my residence in the Great State of Maine. In honor of the occasion, I'm reprinting a blog I wrote in 2011:

Morning Haze Lifting, Penobscot Bay, oil by Phoebe Porteous
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I’ll be the first to confess, I didn’t have a full understanding of what I was getting into when I agreed to marry a Mainer and move to Portland. I had met my boyfriend when we were both grad students in Washington, D.C., but he never made any bones about his desire to return to “God’s country.” (His expression, not mine.) Upon graduating from law school, he accepted a job with one of the larger firms in Maine, and thus began my year of long-distance Maine courtship.

Peaks Island Street, oil by Cooper Dragonette
Every four or five or six weeks, I would fly from Washington, DC to Logan Airport in Boston and take the Mermaid Shuttle up to Portland. (That’s a do-you-really-know-Maine trivia question: have you ever used the Mermaid?) The city would be unbearably hot and sticky, and I would arrive to fresh Atlantic breezes and a ferry ride out to Peak’s Island. Or the city would be gray and cold and covered with dirty slush, and I would spend the weekend shussing down the pristine white slopes of Sugarloaf Ski Resort. Or the city would be crowded with newly-arrived political drones and I would be relaxing in an historic B&B with a view of the mountains in glorious full foliage.

You get the picture. Over the course of that year, my view of Maine developed as an earthly paradise, free from all sordid cares and difficulties. Here is a partial list of the things I had NOT been introduced during my courtship:

Bondo covering up salt-induced rust damage

Duct tape as a cure-all

30 days of the temperatures never rising above 20F during January

Mud Season, print by John Sloane
Mud season

Potholes big enough to qualify as vernal pools

The necessity of wearing Hunter Orange every time one steps outdoors in November

Summer traffic on Route 1

Reader, I married him. Would I have done differently if I had known that Maine had a few blackflies in the ointment? Of course not. Getting to know a place deeply over many years is not dissimilar to getting to know a person the same way. The flaws start out as annoyances and wind up as endearing familiarities. And, as in a good marriage, Maine has given me the space to grow into the person I was meant to be. I’ve changed from a hurried, harried urbanite to a relaxed, contemplative country dweller. I went from having an entire black-tie wardrobe to wearing Bean boots beneath my skirt at the symphony. I started as a law student looking for money and status and grew up to be a writer facing the world with open hands.

Tukey's Bridge, oil by Caren-Marie Michel
And on those summer days when I’m walking through Camden, or sunning at Pemaquid Point, or just driving on Route 295 over Tukey’s Bridge with Casco Bay stretching out to one side and Portland rising on its hill in front of me, I know it’s been a match made in heaven.


  1. What a lovely tribute to Maine. When the annoyances become endearing familiarities, perhaps that means you've found the place is where you were meant to be, the place that's truly home.
    Happy Anniversary.

  2. Ah, Julia, I love me a good happy ending!! Here's to a few more 28 years together for you, Ross, and Maine!!

  3. As the Wicked Cozy Authors are on retreat in Old Orchard Beach this weekend, your post a perfect match!

  4. Aw, Julia. Love you both--you ALL!- so much... And MAine, too!

  5. I feel very lucky to live here - and to have Ross The World's Best Author Husband!

  6. Happy anniversary Ross And Julia--perfect together for many more years! xox

  7. What a pleasure it is to read such a happy post on a Saturday morning when I'm dealing with rewrites. Thanks, Julia.

  8. We used to visit Maine (just inland from Camden) every summer to see friends who live there. Then life and kids got in the way and we didn't go. When we were picking our daughter up from camp outside Bangor we realized how much we love and missed it.
    So, absolutely against all proper reasoning, we bought a house in Ellsworth, between Bangor and Bar Harbor. We can only afford vacation time a few weeks a year, but it was a brilliant idea!
    We love it.

  9. Happy Anniversary and may you both keep on learning about Maine and each other.

  10. Lovely essay, Julia, and lovely pictures! Happy anniversary to you both! xoxo

  11. Happy Anniversary Julia and Ross. May you have many more.

  12. Happy Anniversary. Love "Reader, I married him." ;-)

    Jim in Durham

  13. That love of place comes through in your books as well. Felicitations!

  14. Day late -- but that happens when you are in the northwoods, eh? Happy Anniversary from the the great state of mind: the Upper Peninsula, which has all the weather negatives of Maine, none of the cultural positives of Maine, and I wouldn't trade it in for anything.

    ~ Jim

  15. Congrats on your anniversary! My husband is from Kennebunkport, and summer is definitely my favorite time to visit. My husband luckily agrees with my aversion to snow and being cold (I grew up in south Texas, where 60 is cold). It is such a beautiful place though.