Now I’m wondering how our utility bills stack up

With a landmass of 16,577 square miles, the country of Denmark is almost exactly half the size of Maine and has six-times the population of the Pine Tree State. Yet Denmark uses close to 10,000 megawatts of power annually, about double of what Maine uses.

If my math’s right, that means they’re using only a third of what we do, per capita.

How do they do it?

We both have cold winters with long nights. And most of us rely on fuel oil for heat.

And, for the record, nearly half of Maine is uninhabited, year-‘round, meaning the lived-in part of Maine’s about the size of Denmark. They do stay warm and keep the lights on, don’t they?

How this new life’s looking one year later

I’ve been living in Eastport a full year now. Admittedly, during the initial four months, I was commuting the 300 miles back to Dover every weekend or so, mostly to help declutter the house and prepare it for sale. What amazed us, though, was how quickly my loyalties switched – Eastport was where I felt at home, not the house I’d lived in for the previous 21, the longest of anywhere else in my life.

As you know, I delighted in Dover. Some of my previous moves had left me homesick for a year or more – the colleagues I missed, the social and arts circles, the landscape and opportunities. Even in some of the less attractive places, there was something or someone I regretted leaving behind or unfinished.

This time, though, it felt more like dropping a fantastic perfect lover by being swept away by someone more exotic. You know, leaving a knight’s castle to go off to live on a shack on an island with a mermaid, even if she smelled like fish. (Remember, we’re talking about homes here, not actual people.)

Trying to sort out the reasons for the ease of my quick identity shift has been tricky.

I was at a point in my new creative project where extended solitude would be very helpful. And it was. You know, the writer’s retreat or arts colony.

Covid had also already distanced me. I was no longer swimming laps daily and seeing that crowd. Quaker worship and committee work was on Zoom. Choir in Boston was suspended. With museums and concerts canceled, there wasn’t even any point in taking the Amtrak down and back. And the research I was doing had enough resources online that I could finish the project. There are some questions that might be answered if I had a few weeks to spend in the reopened archives, but I’m content to leave off where I have for now.

Eastport has more of an active arts scene that Dover did, though there was plenty once you included a few neighboring towns. It’s just that the one here feels more organic, as you’ll likely be hearing. We have to be resourceful, since there’s nothing like Boston over the horizon, as there had been in Dover.

Getting back out in the wilderness has been especially invigorating, even if the years are taking a toll on my hiking abilities. Ditto for taking yoga classes on the waterfront here in town.

Did I mention meeting a series of fascinating people, all with rich stories and experiences?

Or the artists-in-residence or world-class chamber music performances by local pros?

Quite simply, I’ve declared this was my best summer ever. The prior highs had always had some big downsides – trouble at the office, upheavals in romance, unnecessary complications. Not so this one.

We had hoped to get the renovations under way, but all of the contractors have been booked out for a year – and even if we had one on the job, supplies have been hard to get, as is the case everywhere. The delay does give us a chance to plan more thoroughly for what we want to see done. And it did mean I didn’t have everything torn up for the workers. I’ll leave that for next summer.