Whenever I’m in line to pay my property taxes, people ask why I moved my family to Maine from Alaska. The usual answer is that when we escaped, this is where we ran out of road, gas and money. There are better places to run out of money than Maine. It doesn’t grow on trees here right next to the road. All the money trees I’ve seen are hard up against people’s houses and usually behind a fence next to a mean dog.

December 2016 marks 25 years since we arrived. With no friends, family or jobs here, we came up with five official reasons or excuses to explain our move to Maine:
1. Short, warm winters
2. The ability to drive to civilization in under a day
3. Interesting topography
4. Four seasons
5. Local residents who are funny and amusing
But the real reason we had to move was because I felt Alaska was trying very hard to brutally kill us. If it doesn’t drown you or pull your plane out of the sky, you may get mauled or even eaten while out on a bike ride. The weather will do you in on a weekend hike or drive to the grocery store, the volcanic ash weighs heavy in the lungs, earthquakes make life “interesting,” and if none of that gets you then over-involvement in the party scene will mince you like beef in a meat grinder.

Of course, you can get shot in the woods or spun to your death on black ice in Maine but it’s a state where you can most likely drive away if you hit a deer instead of getting a free ride to the morgue when that moose comes through your windshield.

Okay, okay, a few words about Alaska with my answers to frequently asked questions: No, I don’t know Sarah Palin. Yes, I’ve been to Wasilla. No, I didn’t go there to buy methamphetamines. No, I couldn’t see Russia from my back porch and, finally, yes, oh yes, there are a lot of moose.

How many moose? Suffice it to say that they tie up traffic in the cities almost daily because they won’t get off the road. In contrast, I was tied up only once in Maine traffic because a great number of cars pulled over willy-nilly where people left their vehicles in the road and were pointing at something located about 400 yards away at the end of a large field. It was a moose. Or maybe it was a misshapen horse. You have to understand that 400 yards is just 40 yards short of a quarter mile so it was hard to tell. It was definitely a dark, moving object and it did cause a traffic jam so it must have been a moose — or an American Yeti.

It’s not so hard to tell in Alaska when you wake up to a moose and two calves on your porch eating whatever you are nurturing in a flower pot and refusing to leave until you slip them a few 20 dollar bills and a big bag of food to go.

Anyway, Maine came through on all of our five official reasons but, as a young-ish couple, we thought that because of the cold weather, blackflies and rocky soil, all the old people would have moved to Florida, leaving only the bons vivants. Turns out Mainers spend all their time and money fighting the weather and bad economy, so they can’t afford to move to Florida.

Now Maine’s population has the oldest mean age of any state. Yes, not just old but old and mean. That comes from dreaming of moving to Florida only to find out you can’t afford to go because the biggest crop on your farm is outcrop.

Time passed and now I see that moving to a state full of older people might have been an issue 25 years ago but I hardly notice the abundance of seniors here anymore. As a matter of fact it seems that more and more people are getting to be about the same age as me.

So here we are celebrating our 25 years. I have never lived anywhere longer than I have in Maine so I guess that says a lot. The moose are sparse, the economy thin but the winters really are short, sunny and warm — and by the grace of God, we are still alive.