Coffee With That Blog Archive 2010
The state of Maine has lost 20 percent of its natural wetlands since the first European settlers arrived. That's a huge amount of territory in a state where wetlands comprise fully one-quarter of all land area. It's a loss of some 2,000 square miles, if my math is correct.
First the good news: my kitty showed up at the back door about the time I'd given her up for lost. I'd awakened in the night to the alarming sound of a screech owl just outside my window — so it sounded, anyway — and discovered the door was ajar. This door doesn't always close tightly and my kitty, being pesky by nature, has figured out how to jiggle it open with a claw. Usually she comes home when I call her, probably on the theory that yummy food is in the offing. That night she did not.
It wasn't me who decided I ought to have a front porch. I just wanted a nice deck on the side of the house, facing the woods and the wetland and maybe providing a glimpse of Penobscot Bay. The notion of a front porch sprang from the fecundant mind of my architectural designer, an energetic young man named Eric Allyn, who seemed to feel that my otherwise unassuming cottage — less than 1000 square feet on a full stomach, clad in rough-cut board-and-batten siding — could use a touch of grandeur.
A former editor of this magazine was fond of announcing, with a mischievous gleam in his eye, "I'm going on vacation next week." At which point, you could either ask the obvious follow-up question or not. Within two seconds, he'd tell you anyway: "I'm going to Maine!"
When people say that something is both an art and a science, it usually means they don't know the first thing about it. The Mystic Mainer believes that gardening is neither an art nor a science but a glorious, ongoing catastrophe, before which one can only stand in wonder and dismay. This week, we respond to real and imaginary reader questions on the mysteries of horticulture.
Dear Mystic Mainer: Why are there all these earwigs, and why do they look the way they do, which is unpleasant?
— Liz (remember me?) in Lincolnville
Here's the thing about Mainers. We live mostly in these small towns and villages and semi-rural enclaves, and in consequence we may be thought of as ... well, I don't know — insular, homogeneous, unselfconsciously retro, all-of-a-piece. The truth is, we're all jumbled up.
Near the start of the cheerfully mindless teen flick Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there's a scene where the eponymous hero, portrayed by Matthew Broderick, looks out at the sky. Cut to a perfect expanse of blue punctuated by a couple of lacy fair-weather clouds. Ferris (looking into camera): "How can I be expected to handle school on a day like this?"
I feel you, bro.
'Tis the season again — that wonderful time of year when we were meaning to catch up with all the friends around town whom, what with one thing and another, we hardly glimpsed all winter. (I use "winter" here in the traditional sense of Labor Day to Memorial Day.) Only now that the season is upon us, we have no time to see our friends, nor even our spouses, because we're expecting visitors from away.
I must have a thing about trees. For nineteen years now I've lived at various Maine addresses whose common feature has been the presence of large, overhanging trees that cast varying degrees of shade over the whole property. When I moved to this brand-new cottage a few years ago, there were woods all around but a big open spot in the middle, cleared by the builder to make room for the house. Naturally the first thing I did was plant a bunch of trees.
It's been a good time for reading, these past couple of weeks, chilly and wet, and I've met some remarkable Mainers that way, in the pages of books. Then, just yesterday, I was lucky enough to meet one of the subjects in person, when she stepped off the page into a cafe in Rockland, looking even more lovely and gracious than I'd expected.