“WHY DO WE LIVE IN MAINE?”
A patient asked me this question recently. She is a native. I am not. But I knew what she meant. Winter can last six months; six long, dark months. The geography creates isolation. The landscape, while beautiful, can be harsh.
So, why DO we live in Maine?
During Milbridge Days last week-end, I got the answer. As director of the WHRL, I was eager for the festivities. We had four fundraisers planned, plus the parade. For many WHRL board members, it was 48 hours of go, go, go.
Friday started with our annual blueberry pie baking marathon at the high school. Janie Snider was gracious enough to organize the event again this year. Wyman’s, as always, donated the berries for 100 pies. Libby Joyce and Tracy Redimaker led the baking efforts assisted by Janie, Mary Margaret O’Dowd, Ellen Strout, Helen Hammond, Sally Lovell, Mary Margaret’s friend visiting from New York, and me. The group combined talents and turned out 100 beautiful and delicious pies in 3 1/2 hours.
From there it was off to the WHRL where Kim Beal was wrapping up the preparations for the Chinese Auction. Kim had recruited some high school students and several other volunteers including Kristen Burke, Kim Dube and Susan Jordan Bennett. When I walked in, the space was decked out with all the tables (borrowed from the town hall) and over 50 great prizes.
Friday night was rainy and miserable, unless you were at the Downeast Jazz Trio concert. The Milbridge Congregational Church opened their space for this lively event, made even more wonderful by the superb acoustics in the church. Frank Fredenburgh, besides being an enormously talented musician, is an enormously generous philanthropist. As leader of the trio, he pays his musicians but keeps none of the profits from his concerts. He donates all the proceeds to the sponsoring group. What a joyful musical treat!
Saturday morning arrived with clearing and a bit of sunshine. I picked up half the pies at the high school at 6:45 and headed to town. Kim Beal had tables and a tent waiting for us at our space provided by Milbridge Pharmacy. When I opened the back of my car to start unloading, I turned around to find a line of people waiting for our pies! We sold out before the parade at 11 AM.
Kandi Robertson collaborated with us on the 5K Road Race and Fun Run which was a great success. Kandi recently started a running group, MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) and did all the leg work preparing for the race. This was her first experience organizing a road race and she pulled it off beautifully.
Back at the Chinese Auction, volunteers were busy selling tickets. Many businesses and individuals donated fabulous prizes. WHRL board members had spent many hours soliciting donations. It can be a tough job in a small community. There is a limited pool of donors and these folks get asked over and over again by many other non-profits, school and church groups. It makes “the ask” difficult sometimes.
But there are those donors who believe strongly in our mission and each year show up with a donation before we even get a chance to ask. Janis Lesbines is such a donor; she brought in a bag of donations including some of her beautiful jewelry as well as items she had solicited. She was especially pleased with a handmade shawl made in Nepal. Medical Center nurse Laurie Curtis, just back from Lancaster Pennsylvania, donated a spectacular Amish quilt. Laurie bought the quilt at a Haitian relief auction and it was certainly the star attraction. Another generous donor is Susan Moore, creator of the “Soonie Bag”, who always donates one of her popular bags without being asked.
Well, what goes around comes around. Susan Moore won the quilt, and Janis Lesbines won the Nepalese shawl.
I was able to slip away from the auction during the parade and was just in time to see Bill Arnold proudly pulling the Incredible Edible Garden cart. The cart was amazing and all I could think about was the hard work of so many people creating our propaganda garden “float”.
And it hit me: the IEG cart symbolizes all that is good here. Milbridge Days saw the coordinated efforts of our community as it came together to offer us support. So many people worked hard and contributed in a variety of ways. Milbridge Days is about community and friendship and pulling together and creating good times and good memories. It is this sense of community, the pride, the camaraderie, the generosity, the goodness; this is why we live here.
A heart felt thank you to all our friends and supporters.