We Maine Crime Writers live in a dark place — both geographically and mentally.
One of the things that makes Maine so delicious for mystery settings is its deep darkness. There are a lot of short days, a lot of dark hours, dead trees, bare vegetation. Lots of cold, rain, ice. Even with the winter that never came this year, the darkness is there.
And we write about death and evil. We have to, or we wouldn’t have anything to write about as mystery writers.
But one of the great things about Maine, one of the things you don’t fully get unless you live here, is that there’s a payoff to the darkness. A day like this.
After all the gloom and gray and cold, dead trees and dead earth the state explodes into a riot of high definition greens and blues. Uncontrolled and unmanicured, warm and good-smelling. Bright and very, very alive.
On a day like this, it’s impossible to write anything dark, or even contemplate darkness.
As writers and readers we love the written word. One of the masters was the great E.B. White. As a child. White spend summers in Belgrade Lakes. Later in life he moved to Brooklin on the Blue Hill Peninsula and left the Lakes behind. But in 1941, he brought his 10-year-old son to Belgrade to experience the kind of summer on Great Pond he himself had as a boy.
I’m lucky enough to live in Belgrade Lakes now, and a couple years ago, after I’d moved here, I stumbled upon his beautiful essay “Once More to the Lake” about that visit with his son. I’d read it in college, but now, living here, it resonated.
Every summer, I write about E.B. and his ode to youth, growing old, mortality, the Lakes and, most of all, Maine summer. It may not be summer yet. We still have a few days until it’s official. But, boy it feels like it. And it feels good. Well, let’s let E.B. say it:
Summertime, oh summertime, pattern of life indelible,
the fade proof lake, the woods unshatterable,
the pasture with the sweet fern and the juniper forever and ever,
summer without end.
Maureen Milliken’s second novel in the Bernie O’Dea mystery series, No News is Bad News, will be available June 28. Follow her on Twitter: @mmilliken47, on Facebook at Maureen Milliken mysteries, and sign up for email updates or get her latest news and events at maureenmilliken.com. Maureen will have copies of No News is Bad News, as well as her debut Cold Hard News, available for sale and signing at Belgrade Lakes Fourth of July celebration, find her at 78 Main St. and say hi!