Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Man Bites Log

Pemaquid Point, Maine

I’m not alone in being one of those vacationers to Maine who spend their summer week there thinking, “Boy, it would be wonderful to live here.”  Some people do grab a real estate guide and plop down money on a house, sure that they’re buying a little piece of paradise; an escape to a simpler, easier life among the pine trees and lighthouses of Maine.
Thank God I read Max Alexander’s book Man Bites Log: The Unlikely Adventures of a City Guy in the Woods, or I might have added my name to the white pages there.
Alexander is a former Hollywood/New York entertainment columnist who decided to trade in his fast-paced celebrity life for acreage in Maine where the state’s welcome sign promises a glimpse into 'The Way Life Should Be.'
Alexander wasn’t one of those people who is shocked to discover that living in a rural area is hard work; he was prepared for that. But through him, I realized how much I am not ready for a life wading through mud, chipping through ice, and having suspicious neighbors watching and waiting for me act like the out-of-stater I am.
Instead, Alexander gives us a look at how much he comes to embrace trading in his fast-paced work and deadlines for hours spent splitting logs and tapping maple trees for syrup. He runs for local government and goes door-to-door campaigning. He gets to know his neighbors, his family, his land, and in the process – himself.
He does not present  life in Maine as less than idyllic. Rather, he presents it as a place to dig in and get your hands dirty and shape an existence there; something that I, and surely hundreds of other people, aren’t really committed to doing.
I loved living in Maine vicariously through Alexander's memoir. But Man Bites Log opened my eyes and helped me realize that while Maine is a fantastic place to vacation, it is not a place where I’d be happy living. I’ve picked out plenty of other vacation spots for that. J

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