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.
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
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
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 …