This painting, another 8x10, is what I see when I'm sitting at the table. It is the most familiar sight in Eastport for me, since it's the same view from Diana's dining room. All those years I came here as a visitior I looked at it. It defined the place. There used to be a canning factory where the chimney is, and I'm told that the owner of that factory also owned the house I live in. What a symbol that chimney is of Eastport's history, and its present, too, for that matter. The town is very conscious, and proud, of its past thriving sardine industry. It is struggling to find a new identity, but right now we are still in the shadow of former times without a clear vision of the future. It's difficult.
Many people who come here to live from other places are attracted to the small town atmoshpere and simplicity of life. Nevertheless, they are usually the ones who have ideas about how to change the place. They fear the death of the town if economics don't change drastically. Well, the town as it is will die one way or another. What drew us all here can't survive modern times. Something has to change. Eastport may become a tourist town, or a retirement community, or an artist retreat. It is a little of all of those right now, mingling with the remaining fishermen and local businessmen. It's a strange mix, but the natives are slowly being overtaken.
Even though I am one of the outsiders, I hope for the delay of "progress." It has already changed a lot since I moved here ten years ago. The deserted downtown streets have come alive with a musical chairs of five or six tourist-based businesses. Every summer they swap locations for reasons I can't fathom and do their best to attract tourists. There are whale watches and sunset cruises. There are new bed-and-breadfast establishments. There is a museum, and even our dressed up gallery. There is a social calendar too full of town events for anyone to keep up with. We have brought the other world with us. We think we can keep the charm while making so-called improvements, but instead we destroy what attracted us in the first place.
I feel confident that the town will survive in some incarnation, but I'm counting on the slow wheels of progress to protect me.