Have you ever been to a place where your body instantly relaxes, a place where one breath of the fresh air instantly rejuvenates you? Have you ever been to a place where the smell of cow manure being spread in the corn field actually comforts you because you love observing the process of the farming cycle? Have you ever been to a place that seems to defy time in a way that lets you know that you can always leave and come back, and it will be unchanged and waiting to welcome you? I have been to such a place. For me, this place is Exeter, Maine, and it is the place that I have called home for the last 19 years of my life.
I was raised in a small house on a dirt road, surrounded by corn and potato fields. I spent my childhood years watching my dad and his fellow farm workers drive tractors around my house, and each year I got to watch the corn grow high and the flowers of the potatoes bloom. My childhood was simple, yet filled with so much beauty that I can't help but be mesmerized by this place that raised me. When I travel, I am usually asked where I am from, and no one ever knows where Exeter, Maine is. In the minds of many, we don't exist. We are like a tiny sliver of paradise that the rest of the world has yet to discover.
From the outside, Exeter might look like a silly little town where nothing really happens, a place that doesn't have much value to contribute, but I find that there is a lot that this little town has to offer.
There is something really special about being from a small town, and that is that you get to know pretty much everyone who lives around you. No, not everyone is perfect, and every town has their share of questionable inhabitants, but one thing that I have always loved about my town is the way we all contribute to the sense of community that is here. Out where I live I don't actually have many neighbors, but the neighbors I do have are quite honestly some of the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life. From helping us get our vehicle pulled out of the mud in the spring to offering a friendly wave every time we drive by, I am constantly reminded that I live in a place where good people are always looking out for us. And my family always tries to offer that same support, because that is just what you do when you are a part of this kind of community.
When you live in a town where there doesn't seem to be much going on, every little thing that happens is a big deal. I am so proud to be a part of this town where our little store has seen a multitude of owners and yet still pushes on and now stands as strong as I have ever seen it. I am proud to have attended the Exeter Consolidated School before its doors were closed and then reopened as the town office. I am proud to have played baseball with the boys for the majority of my childhood because we didn't have enough girls to make a softball team. I am proud to be a part of this seemingly eventless culture which has enriched my own upbringing and helped me get to where I am today.
If you have never taken a walk in the woods with your family and simply enjoyed the wonders that nature has to offer, then you have definitely missed out. Growing up, I was able to not only enjoy the nature around me, but also to learn from it in many ways. I learned to appreciate a land that has gone untouched by man as well as the land that has been tilled by man to nourish all of us each day. When I was younger I learned how an imagination could turn a clearing and a little stream into a secret fantasy land and hideaway in the woods. I grew up with an appreciation for a place that can never be matched; no matter where I go in life, nothing will compare to Exeter, Maine.
I am an adult now, and I have moved away from home for college. I now enjoy the bustling city life in Philadelphia, and I'm actually not even registered to vote in the great state of Maine. I have moved on from my home in Exeter, but that does not mean that I have stopped loving it. This is the place that I can come back to and feel completely secure. This is the place that taught me lessons and gave me hope for my future. This is the place that I grew up in, with my wonderful family, surrounded by great people and the simplicity of a good life. This is the place that I am forever proud to call my true home. This is Exeter, Maine.