"Just because a cat has kittens in the oven don't make them muffins."
- A common Maine saying
I first heard this Maine saying at the annual Boothbay Soup Bowl Supper, which took place this year on April 5. Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and the Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club team up to host this fundraiser involving handmade ceramic bowls and delicious donated soups and chowders (or "chowdahs" if you're from Maine). It seemed like the perfect event for us to connect with community members from the Boothbay Harbor Region, so Devin & I packed up some mugs and joined the crowd to see what stories we could find.
So what does that saying mean, you ask? If you are like me, and have lived outside of New England and the state of Maine for most of your life, you probably haven't heard it. It was explained to me in a conversation during the supper, that it means even if someone was born in Maine, if their parents were not born here, they could not be called a Mainer. This is one of the things I noticed right away when I moved to Maine--I was "from away" (so definitely not a "muffin"!). In many of the towns in the midcoast region, like Boothbay Harbor, Devin and I have found that many families have roots that go back generations in their town. In some ways I expected this to make some Mainer's explanation of home less complicated, as the geographic location remains somewhat constant throughout their lives. However, staying rooted in one place does not necessarily make home more simple. We talked to people during the supper of all ages, ranging from an elementary school aged girl, to many retired people who have been living in Boothbay (or nearby towns) for decades. It was interesting hearing what keeps people here, or brings them back, and what their communities and families mean to them. Just like the pancake breakfast Devin and I attended in East Dixfield, the Soup Bowl Supper felt like a community reunion in some ways. A few of the people we spoke to told us that they had been coming to the event since it started 22 years ago, and they still have all 22 bowls!
We also connected with a local reporter from the Boothbay Register during the event, who ended up meeting with me afterwards and writing a lovely article about our project! During the interview for the article, I was able to hear the reporter's beautiful story of her coastal home, too. We had a good laugh about switching her role from interviewer to interviewee that afternoon.
Stories and conversations from the event are still being processed, and many of the specific stories will be shared in the coming weeks on the Story Archive page. We also have exciting June plans and excursions coming up that we will be sharing shortly. So, stay tuned for more project updates!