The Maine State … what?

Lea Wait here, admitting I’m a cable news addict who in recent months has been more than a little disillusioned by the amazing ability of our elected representatives (both in Washington and here in Augusta, Maine,) to accomplish so little, when so much obviously needs to be done. Which got me thinking about all the vitally important decisions legislative bodies have made over the years.

Mentioning this to my husband, who’s usually good for a return rant of his own, he snarled something like, “Right. Important decisions. Like deciding what would be the state dessert.”

Which actually was a major issue here in Maine a couple of years back. The blueberry growers, see, wanted the Maine State Dessert to be blueberry pie, even though the blueberry had already claimed the honor of being the Maine State Berry. Another very vocal contingent were lobbying for the Whoopie Pie to take the honors. But Maine’s a thoughtful state, full of solutions. Since I know you’re now anxious to know the outcome of that dilemma … Blueberry Pie won the day, and is now the Maine State Dessert.  BUT … Whoopie Pie is now the official Maine State Treat. (Does any other state have an Official Treat? I have no idea. But it solved the problem for us. And ended a good many hours of lobbying and discussion.)

As I contemplated that solution, I began wondering.  Maine has a Dessert and a Treat. We have an Official Bird (the Chickadee) and an Official Animal (the Moose.) I even knew we had an Official Beverage. (Moxie. If you don’t know – I won’t tell.)

But what else had Maine chosen to honor with its official title? I went off in search of the answers.

Maine State Fossil: Pertica quadrifaria

I didn’t know, for example, that Maine has it’s very own … Maine State Fossil. The Pertica quadrifaria, I now know, was a primitive plant that lived about 390 million years ago in a brackish marsh near an active volcano, and whose fossils have been found in Baxter State Park, near Mount Katahdin. It has only been found in three other places besides Maine. I don’t know what it’s competition was to become the Maine State Fossil, but I wish it well.

The Maine State Gem I did know:  it’s Tourmaline, and it’s one of my personal favorite gems. I have several pieces of tourmaline jewelry, and in my Shadows Antique Print mystery series, Will Brewer gives a pair of green tourmaline earrings to Maggie Summer to welcome her to Maine on her first trip Down East. (Tourmaline also comes in pink, blue, jade, and a

Green Tourmaline Earrings

mixture called “watermelon.”)

Of course, the Official Maine Cat is The Maine Coon Cat. Duh. That’s pretty obvious; I just hadn’t thought of it, since I thought the moose had covered animals. Our Maine State Flower is also a little sneaky — it’s the White Pine Cone and Tassel. Official Tree?  The White Pine, of course.

I wasn’t there, but I suspect there was heated debate in the

Maine Coon Cat

legislature when someone decided there should be a Maine State Fish. Why do I suspect that? Because there are three. One is the Official Maine State Fish:  the Landlocked Salmon. But then, in a major P.S. – or maybe a tribute to Dr. Seuss – there is “Heritage Fish #1” (the Eastern Brook Trout) and “Heritage Fish #2” (the Blueback Char). 

And, to top it all off — there is an Official Maine State Soil: the Chesuncook Soil Series. No comments on that. 

One point of interest:  there is no Maine State Shellfish.  Clearly, Homaris Americanis (the American Lobster) should be honored by such a title. I’d write to my state representative and suggest he propose it.

Except there are other issues he should be working on right now. Budget deficits. Education. Voting rights. Health reform. Tax reform. Welfare. Maybe after all of those issues get wrapped up.  Say, October, or so.  Then we can give that lobster his due ….   And what about a Maine State Fruit? Or Vegetable?

There’s a lot those legislators have left undone, to be sure …        

 

About MCWriTers

Kate Flora is the author or co-author of fifteen books, including her Joe Burgess police procedural series, her Thea Kozak series, two true crimes, a stand-alone suspense and a memoir, as well as many short stories. Her books have been Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Derringer finalists. She’s twice won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction and won the 2015 Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction. She divides her time between Maine and Massachusetts. Flora is a former international president of Sisters in Crime.
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6 Responses to The Maine State … what?

  1. Wow. I can’t believe we don’t have lobster as the official State of Maine symbol. Who would’ve thought…

  2. Kathleen March says:

    Does any other state have its very own official fossil????? wow

  3. Vicki Palmquist says:

    Minnesota has an official state poem, “Minnesota Blue,” written as recently as 1985, so our legislators have been spending time on important legislation as well. But Maine’s State Soil might just take the honors for Oddities.

  4. Rob says:

    Connecticut has a state fossil as well:
    http://www.ct.gov/ctportal/cwp/view.asp?a=885&q=246498

    We also have an official state tall ship and an official state folk dance.

    Here’s a site that can tell you about your state symbols:
    State Symbols USA

    • Lea Wait says:

      Thanks, Rob! I’m going to check that out! It really tells a lot about a state to see what the people there (or at least the legislators!) feel is worth making symbolic of the entire area.
      Plus — I like trivia!

  5. Fun post! How can the Maine lobster be overlooked? What’s the matter with the folks in your legislature? Clearly you have your work cut out to rectify this situation. LOL

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