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The Telling Room: The Sweet Taste of Home

It may not be the most popular candy on the store shelf, but for Evelyn Viernes, salt water taffy is a ticket home to her favorite place on earth. Her essay is part of our Friday series produced in partnership with the Telling Room in Portland.

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My saltwater taffy resides in a rustic wooden box that has been a part of my family for many years. When I take a piece out to eat, an ethereal experience becomes mine. No matter where my feet touch the ground, a transformation takes place. By the power of its flavor, my saltwater taffy brings me back home.

An inch of space on a crumpled-up map; just a place - the candy takes me there. To some, it's a faded painting of a lighthouse relaxing next to a beautiful sea.

But wait! It's more, it's bigger, it's so many blueberries with succulent navy lips and lobsters with rich red masquerades waiting to be eaten. It's ocean salt sitting heavily in the air, twisting and tangling through the wind. There are boats dotting the harbor like millions of stars in the sky.

Look! There's a chickadee perched upon the fence. He's smiling. And over there, a honeybee is coasting through the wind. A single white pinecone basks in the sun. It's the birthplace of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It's where Katahdin stands tall, boasting 5,286 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state!

It was welcomed into the Union on March 15, 1820. It glides out of the mouth easily, the only U.S. state with one simple syllable in its name.

Behind the glory and smile-inducing environment, it's my home. It's my heart and my childhood and my memories washing up to shore like tangles of brackish olive seaweed. I was born here, I was raised here, and I will always come back.

It's the most beautiful place on the map. There are treasures here and there: a sunken ship, interchangeable seasons, joy. It's like a comfortable vacation: sunny, snowy, soggy - whatever! It fits like your favorite sweatshirt. It's all in the flavors of saltwater taffy and sounds like boat horns and cawing birds and sloshing waves.

Summer brings sandy beach towels and deep swarthy tans. It brings ice cream and warm wind and alluring sunsets. It touches your toes and scatters up your entire body, lacing your skin with an invigorating sensation that seeps through to your soul. It carries luminous seashells and calm starfish. Fall produces hearty leaves in a panoply of fresh colors. It brings crisp, heavy air and mouth-watering turkey.

Winter makes dense snow dash through the sky like it's been electrically charged. It is responsible for warm fires and cozy wool socks. Spring gives morning dew and the smell of sweet grass. It brings fresh weather and big smiles. It is a vacationland, indeed!

It is a serene escape from the rest of the world, a relaxing nap on an ocean-adjoining rock. It is a picnic on the shoreline, or an afternoon spent exploring a grove. It is a hearty bowl of soup on a chilly afternoon. It is where I learned how to ride a bike, where I first swam in the ocean. It's where I caught my first fish. It is my youth, my education, my Tuesday playdates with my best friend. It's where an angry hornet stung me.

It's my world; the only place I can ever call home. It is impossible to completely describe why I love it, why I live it.

But on a crumpled up map, it's described in one word: Maine.

My saltwater taffy isn't just candy; it's a pastel-colored passport to my favorite place. Even when I'm miles away from home, the sweet gems in my wooden box can always bring me back.


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