Mum’s the word this September

Nate Dogg: A man for many occasions.
Nate Dogg: A man for many occasions.

If the title didn’t give it away, the secret is out: My mother’s coming to Maine later this year.

I hadn’t intended to write a column about it until the time drew closer – or after the visit – but as you well know by now, sometimes the wellspring of material gets a little parched.

With no particularly wild weather to muse about, and having done no interviews towards two of the column ideas I’ve got bouncing around in my skull, I trotted this one out the day before deadline, as always.

It’s also historic in that I might be the first columnist in Maine newspaper history to start with a quote by late rapper Nate Dogg, so there’s that?

Mum’s the word in September

A late-summer visit will give columnist Adrian Crawford’s mother a taste of Maine — and more importantly, context.

“Ring the alarm – she’s heading this way like lightning.” – Nate Dogg

I better sweep the floors. Wash the towels. Make up the spare bed. Sweep the floors again (pet hair comes at you fast). Have a shave (maybe). Do a good job – mum’s coming to visit.

Okay, maybe I have a slight penchant for the dramatic. In fact, if you’ve ever met me outside of the office, there’s no “maybe” about it. There’s nothing alarming or urgent about the notion of my first visit from a family member since I moved here 15 months ago. Except the shaving part; I’m sporting a beard that won’t impress my mother one little bit.

When I first immigrated to the United States, the offers rolled in from family members and friends far and wide who wanted to come visit. I couldn’t blame them – I’m certainly not averse to crashing on friends’ couches in random cities in the name of a vacation (like the time I did just that in Kenosha, Wisc., in 2012) – but I told them to hold off for two reasons.

First and foremost, it was early January 2014, the weather was brutal and I had no idea how long it was going to take to ease. The last thing I’d want to do was encourage a loved one to come visit, and then expose them to snowbanks, icy conditions and a distinct lack of the things that make Vacationland beautiful.

Secondly, I wasn’t exactly sure where my career path was going to take me, or how long I’d be calling central Maine home, so I was hesitant to give someone the green light to book a trip, only to have them have to change their itinerary completely if I were to end up somewhere else in the country.

But now that I’ve put some roots down in Kennebec County, my mum’s ready to roll. Or fly, as the case may be. She’s coming in late September, to coincide with my 30th birthday, so the climate isn’t going to be off-putting or a challenge either.

I’m not grown up enough to know what it’s like to have a child move halfway across the world (or to have a child at all, for that matter), so I imagine this whole adventure I’ve been on has been tough at times for my folks.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to be able to show my mother first-hand all the places I’ve spent over a year frequenting, talking and blogging about, and introduce her to all the great people I’ve met, with the girlfriend obviously topping the list.

Via video chat this week, Mum agreed, saying it’s not scenery or lobster rolls she’s anticipating the most, but context.

“I can talk to you now on the phone, or via Skype, and it’s no different to talking to you when you were back home, because I don’t know what the world around you looks like,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing your little place in the community and the things you do and see as you go about your day.”

While the adjustment period for my own “Maine walkabout” was sometimes challenging, I think Mum will be just fine. For the past couple of years she’s lived in Tasmania, the small island state off the southern Australian coast.

I visited her for the first time right before I moved here for good, and when I got settled in Maine I realized that our respective adopted home states are really quite similar. They’re both lush and green, somewhat rural and not as densely populated as other states. The main cities are separated by miles and miles of road, and the logging industry has a long history in both places.

At the time I visited, Mum was living in a small coastal town and driving an hour each way to work in the “big city” every day. I couldn’t fathom how she could stand to be in the car for so long just to get to work, but I’m now acclimatized to Maine’s mindset of a destination an hour away on the interstate being “just down the road.”

She told me that the same thing applied with regards to context when I first went to visit Tasmania.

“When you and [my sister] Courtney came down here, it was good for me because then I knew you’d be able to see where I live and not have to wonder what it was like or worry whether it was a nice area,” she said.

“But now when I tell you a story about somewhere in Low Head or Launceston, you know where I’m talking about.”

This visit is going to require a little more planning, though, than if I was being visited by one of my old roommates or drinking buddies. In that instance, it’d be “a night out drinking in Portland, a night out drinking in Hallowell, and a couple of day trips hiking.”

While I don’t doubt we’ll show my mum around Portland, Hallowell and the like, my itinerary may need a little bit more finesse than “…and here’s the next bar.” Once we check off all of the great spots we have locally, there’s always the never-fail list including Acadia National Park, the big boot at L.L. Bean in Freeport, the Portland Head Light and Popham Beach.

Fortunately, though, if I ever run out of ideas, I’ve got over a year’s worth of emails from helpful readers suggesting the Maine-est things to do and see.

And if all else fails, she wants to check out America’s nearest neighbor too. I may have unintentionally misrepresented how close we are to Canada, though, given Mum told me on the phone a couple weeks ago that she had every intent of taking a day trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Oops.

My dad, step-mother and aunt have all talked about the possibility of a trip to Maine to see what it’s all about, and although there’s nothing in the works yet, by the time Mum’s visit is over, I’ll have a pretty good formula for grown-up guests to come.

But that itinerary probably won’t work for my sister – she’s breaking rule number two and coming for Christmas. She’d better bring a coat.


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