I’ve lived in northern Maine just over 20 years now. We’ve bought homes and raised our babies. But I will never truly be from here. That honor belongs to those whose grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can say they owned and worked the land or built businesses that they passed on to their children.

This is beautiful country. I have to give you that. Well, for the few months we’re without snow that is. Winters here are long and harsh. But I digress.

This past weekend was the annual Potato Blossom Festival. It really is amazing. Friday night they block off the main street and local service organizations and churches offer all kinds of food stuffs to raise money for their annual scholarships. They set up a stage for entertainment and one of the people performing was a good friend’s son who has moved away and is now making money as a musician downstate. My heart clogged as he sang beautiful songs of coming home. Swelled even more when his hard-working father, a potato farmer, who hasn’t really understood the artistic side of his son, stood with the rest of us totally mesmerized by this young man. I just kept thinking that those are the moments life is made of.

On Saturday I got to ride with Mr. Nina in a half-ton pickup pulling a float full of pageant queens. Yep northern Maine takes their pageants very seriously. Over the years a couple of the potato blossom queens have actually gone on to be “Miss Maine”. I really can’t express the emotions rolling over me as we rode the parade route waving at all the families lining the street 3 and 4 deep to watch the parade. It was so cute when the little ones blew kisses at the girls or waved calling to the “pretty princesses”. But I’m not making a statement about pageants or queens.

I’m talking about the hometown pride of the people standing there watching the parade. Obviously, not everyone was from the host town. But everyone was celebrating small town America pride. From the fireman on a float behind us singing patriotic songs to the politicians walking the parade route, shaking hands and looking for votes, everyone was just hot and smiling and … proud.

I have no doubt that somewhere near you there’s a celebration just like this. Maybe bigger. Maybe smaller. A time when the high school band plays and marches, the antique tractors and cars chug-a-lug, the veterans don their military uniforms to the applause of the crowd and the guy next door becomes a Shriner clown entertaining the crowd. *sigh*

Sometimes life just doesn’t get any better.

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