It stopped snowing last week and everything melted just like a bit of Mud Season in the middle of January. I put my last 50 bucks in the gas tank and went to Biddeford yesterday… I actually made a special trip back to the house to get my camera….pointless really, as i never even took it out of the case. Winter in New England is one thing, but when it’s all meltly and muddy, it’s just all bad.
Long story short I was a little unimpressed with downtown biddeford. We are conditioned to think of coastal maine as nicely appointed and picturesque, but in spots it is rather squallid. Just like anywhere, some parts are nicer than other parts. The downdown is not someplace I want to live. Actually Biddeford looks a lot like, Lowell and Manchester in the Merrimack Valley…. mixed use, light industrial chockoblock with tenaments and more multifamilies made from old single families…you have to get away from the downtown to find single family house lots, but it doesn’t last long before you run face first into stripmall syndrome. Saco’s downtown is a little more retro-quaint, and it rolls immediately into larger houses on bigger lots in better condition…the way it is told to me, is that the French Catholic mill workers lived in Biddeford, and the Protestant mill owners in Saco…Post the 21st century economic crash, Biddeford with all its cheap retail, industrial space etc……is attracting the young and progressive, artistic, and creative……so you have cutting edge chefs taking over ancient diners and craft brewers setting up shot in brick mills. All signs of trending gentrification, but there is still a revolving door on the court house for the meth heads.
Biddeford is a hard place to love…the houses and streets are way too close together in the downtown, i’m sick of listening to my tenants stomp up the stairs like Colonel Hathi ….i don’t need to see or hear my neighbors…well…anything. I have extended my Zillow house search to a wider area including Saco, further inland wooded areas. I still like the central location the mouth of the Saco River offers me..but i don’t want to trade one squalid municipality for another. The ‘town’ is being progressive in its thinking and actions so that’s still attracting me. I really shouldn’t judge…nothing in New England looks good when it’s all covered in mud and slush. By the time i get to go house shopping with a checkbook, the world should look a lot better.
Essentially i have thrown out nearly all of my house shopping criteria that i started with: I still need a garage/barn or outbuilding, screened in porch, a room with a door for an office, a guest room, a south facing roof for the solar electric and a little bit of yard for a garden. When i started i didn’t want much more than that, because i didn’t want to buy more property than i could conceivably take care of. I wanted to be closer to the downtown than further in the burbs, but now the burbs are looking a lot better. Downtown Greeenfield, and even Downtown Methuen, aren’t downtown Biddeford…I’ve been spoiled, i have had my little island on a hillside in the middle of the city…where most people in my neighborhood have only a driveway strip between them and their neighbors clothesline.
Here to Biddeford was the first 72 miles, I came home by way of Goffstown, NH…to check on my friend with the wolf hybrids who has an arm in a sling for the rest of the week. There’s a slim chance that in a few years she may have to relocate with the wolves to a more hassle free environment. That idea is sticking inside my head like bubble gum on a carpet, a house with a few unbuildable acres is not a hard thing to find in Maine, not even for a moderate price. There’s a house in Saco that fits nearly all the criteria right now…i wonder how the neighbors would feel about hearing wolves at night?