As of this writing, author May Davidson is (or will be) 93 years old. In 2019, she had her memoirs, Whatever It Takes, published by Maine’s Islandport Press. Salt and Roses is filled with smaller reminiscences, gathered from a column that appeared for many years in The Lincoln County News, where many of the essays in this book first appeared.
The first thing you must know about Ms. Davidson is that she loves Maine. She not only loves it but she truly appreciates the diversity of its seasons and its geography; from mountains and lakes in the west to the rugged (“stone jawed”) coasts of Down East Maine. However, as this collection is subtitled “The Coastal Maine Way of Life”, it primarily fixes on the area of Maine Ms. Davisdon grew up in around Bremen Maine.
The stories or essays within the covers are cozy, comfortable stories of earlier (and simpler) times of farm life, as well as the summer guest inn that her parents ran. It was at this inn that she met her husband Jim, who was a guest along with his aunt. They would spend sixty-eight years together, and many of the stories are about life on their farm, the antics of their various livestock, and the nature that is part of the Maine allure. One of the stories is an amusing trip north to New Brunswick to acquire a particular type of ram that they needed. The only one suitable was in Ste. Marie-de-Kent, a village in a very Acadian area of the province. The LeBlancs spoke no English and the Davidsons spoke no French, so an interpreter acted as a go-between not only for the languages but for settling on a price for the ram. The Davidsons chose to bring their car with the backseat removed (this was in the 1950s) and the resulting space complete with bedding for the ram for the trip back. A situation full of amusing possibilities, it was a highlight of the book for me.
As an aged person, Ms. Davidson is very reflective not just on the past, but on the present as well.
“Please, embrace your advancing years. Have no fear. We all go through our destinies of angst, grief, and joy, but then love and laughter will also carry us onward.”
And on a lifetime in Maine:
“We live here because Maine is clean sky, ocean, wildflowers, dark fir and spruce, and always the scent of pine and sea. Salt and sea roses. No other place matters when all this is home.”
“A lifetime in Maine seeps deeply into the blood, the sorcery of it seasoning and enriching each month of the year.”
Salt and Roses is the perfect accompaniment to Whatever It Takes, for that book left the reader wanting to read more about a life lived wholly in Maine, and a well-observed and well-written one at that.
By the age of eight, I had made up my mind I would never live anywhere but Maine. My attachment to the state is that of a barnacle to a ledge, the pull of the moon to the earth. Maine, because of its singular and profound beauty, is a place of worship without walls. I love it so.From Whatever It Takes by May Davidson
About the Author
May Davidson was born in 1929 in Damariscotta, a village along the Maine coast. In 1947, she graduated from nearby Lincoln Academy and a year later married her teenage sweetheart, Jim Davidson. She first met Jim when he spent a week at her family’s inn on Greenland Cove. The couple, despite struggles, were determined to live in Maine and did whatever necessary to make that happen, whether running a chicken farm, raising sheep, building lobster traps, or driving a truck across America. They ultimately found great success when they invented the now-iconic Maine Buoy Bell. Her memoir, Whatever it Takes, was published in 2019.
- Publisher : Islandport Press (Sept. 14 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1952143179
- ISBN-13 : 978-1952143175
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.