I am a talker. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I like to talk. My mom told me a story recently that I had never heard. She said when I would come home from school in the first grade, I would talk to her about every single thing that I did that day at school. She said finally she had to make a deal with me that I wasn’t allowed to talk for 30 minutes after I got home, so she had time to unwind (she taught at my school) before listening to me tell her about my day.
Some people who are good talkers aren’t always good listeners. It’s hard to do both…and impossible to do both at the same time. I try to find a balance and like to listen to people and their stories. And working at NRCM, I get to talk to – and listen to – a lot of people and hear about why they love Maine and its environment.
One of the best parts of my job as NRCM’s public affairs coordinator is that I get to answer phone calls and emails from people who contact us about a variety of issues. Sometimes they send in photos for our “My Maine This Week” feature on our website. Sometimes they just want to give us an updated mailing address. Other times, they have specific questions about projects on which we are working. Whatever the reason, I try to handle their request and get back to them in as timely a manner as I can.
Today, I received a phone call from a woman who had seen our recent ad in Down East magazine. We are running a membership special now through the end of January and she called to ask some questions. I gave her the information she wanted, and then she told me about her connections to Maine – which started in the mid 1950s when she came up here to work at a summer camp as a swim instructor and attend another summer arts program. She told me of overnight camping with third graders near Harrison. She told me of crafts projects and times spent on Long Pond. She told me of getting lost in the woods near the coast with a group of camp staff. She lives in Pennsylvania but said her daughter and granddaughter live in Maine – and she told me of their outdoor interests and activities in Maine. She said she won’t get here for the holidays due to illness, but that she has spent many Christmases here…never knowing from one year to the next whether there would be no snow or several inches of snow on the ground.
She talked to me for quite some time, telling me her story and how she hadn’t lived in Maine since those summers in the 50s, but that she had a connection to our state for more than 50 years.
I did share some of my own story – my connection to summer camps in Maine for the past thirty years, and also mentioned, since we talked a lot about the water, how I, along with some coworkers and NRCM supporters, will be racing into the Atlantic on December 31st for our polar plunge. She laughed and said she had never, in all of her years on the water, been asked to participate in a polar dip. I told her she was the lucky one! 🙂 She took down my name and said she would be thinking of me and encouraging me to move quickly as I ran in and out of the water at East End Beach. I thanked her and said once I thawed out, I would be sure to send her a note to confirm my survival, and would include a photo or two of the event just for fun.
When we were getting off the phone she said, “My dear, I feel like I have reconnected with Maine today.” Being able to help people connect – or reconnect, in this case – with Maine and its natural beauty….is one of the reasons I am so happy that I get to do the work that I do here at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.