New York vs. York

Written by Sara Mitsinikos, Media Co-Coordinator, Team Maine

On Tuesday we had a potluck dinner, on the top of a mountain. I shouldn’t be complaining, it wasn’t our worst day. That would be the dreaded Pinnacle Drive: miles of hills in ninety-five degree heat on the way to Belfast and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We have learned what road names like “Pinnacle” and “Grand View” usually entail.

I thought I would never forgive Mount Agamenticus for being so long and steep. But once we got to the top I could see it was worth the work. There was the most amazing view: trees and mountains for miles. I could have just sat staring for hours. But there was food to eat and people to meet.

On top of Mt Agamenticus!

As is custom, we were again faced with the questions, “Where are you from?” and “Why are you doing this?” I thought back nine weeks from now to when I was on my beloved Long Island. I thought of the unnecessary drop-offs and pick-ups by car to destinations in walking distance. I thought of the Smartboards installed in my high school (basically a computerized chalkboard or what I like to call a way to use more electricity when all you need is a chalkboard and a projector). I thought of how the bay is not suitable for swimming, although on a couple occasions I’ve gone in holding my nose and squeezing my eyes shut pretending that it is.

Then I relived in my mind what I’ve experienced in Maine: community gardens, composting, tidal energy, passive solar energy and so much more, not to mention plenty of clean lakes and ponds that we have taken to our full advantage. I thought of our work with the York Land Trust and their aim to keep as much land undeveloped as possible. As I walked the trails comparing the miles of forest in York to the miles of pavement in New York I wondered where I could go to get my nature fix on Long Island. The place that came to mind was Christopher Morley Park, where I’d spent many a Columbus Day with my family “exploring.” But even those trails seemed developed compared to York in that the pathways are so wide and cleared that by walking on them you don’t feel you are in nature but rather separated from it and just observing it, like at a zoo.

But back to the potluck: My abbreviated reply to the aforementioned questions was, “I’m from Long Island and I’m here because I don’t want the rest of the world to turn into that.” Each day I’m finding new reasons to be doing what I’m doing. And I have that horrible, beautiful mountain to thank for inspiring me and keeping me motivated to continue doing it, even past my time at Climate Summer, which is quickly dwindling down.

Maine is known as “vacationland.” But I don’t want what Maine represents to me, respect for nature and the corresponding need to preserve it, to be a getaway from normal life of disregard for the environment. I want it to be everywhere; I want it to be home, wherever that is.

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