At 4 in the morning, Julia Stackpole often finds herself heating up a pot of coffee, eagerly anticipating what she might see that day. She packs her camera and moves silently about her home in Avesta's Prescott Heights in North Berwick, where she’s lived since March. Though the sun is not yet hanging in the sky, she’s out the door, driving toward the ocean.
“I like waking up early and going to photograph the ocean at sunrise. That's when I took this photo. Sometimes you get lucky and everything comes together. The lighting is perfect, the ocean is beautiful and colorful, a bird starts to take flight, and you're just lucky enough to be there to capture the moment.”
A western Maine native, Julia she earned her education at the University of Southern Maine. She spent 21 years as a paramedic, and her ability to react quickly to high-pressure situations led her to become a police officer. She was the only woman on the Lebanon police force, advancing to sergeant in six years and handling cases that included domestic issues and burglary. “Most of the time we'd just have one patrol car on duty at any given time, and we could be called to do anything. You would go onto any given shift never knowing what kind of work you'd be doing.”
Then one day, the town of Lebanon disbanded the force. Julia, along with her fellow officers, were given the opportunity to move to other police forces, but there was no guarantee they would maintain their ranks. Again she shifted careers, working for 10 years as an EKG technician until she became disabled.
Julia doesn’t say much about her disability, except that she suffers from memory issues. She spent a year living with her mother until she had to move out. She applied for subsidized housing when she couldn't afford to maintain her single-bedroom apartment. As she waited, her living conditions continued to deteriorate. She couldn’t pay her bills and her debt grew. When she ran out of savings in a year and a half, she didn’t have even so much as a working stove.
Then she got a call from Avesta saying there was an apartment available for her. It was more than a place to live. It provided her with a profound sense of security, and a feeling of belonging. “When I first saw it, it was empty, but I could see where all my stuff would go. I could see how this could be my home.”
Julia is neighbors with Christine, whom we profiled in a two-part story earlier this year.