..a travel journal, harmless rant, confession and thank-you note in three parts.
(for Barbara H.)
There’s little more irritating than some half-baked journalist showing up out of nowhere, spending an inconsequential snippet of time exposing him- or herself to your hometown (or industry, or cause, or art,) and then proceeding with unmitigated audacity to write with authority about that place as if he or she actually knew anything.
I always liked that “unmitigated audacity” bit. That was from Frank Zappa.
"This doesn’t look like Aroostook County to me.”
If you look at the chart, you’ll see that Matinicus Island is served by the Maine State Ferry Service. Don’t make too many plans around that. We get an average of 30 state vehicle ferry trips per year; that’s generally one a month during the winter, up to four per month during the summer. The ferry makes the two-hour trip from the Rockland terminal on a very irregular schedule determined entirely by the tide calendar, and making no sense whatsoever to those unfamiliar with such realities, including those innocents who assume that if the boat left at 10:00 a.m.
Do you know where Connor Township is?
How about Sinclair?
I know that at least one reader will know these places, he being our local Superintendent of Schools (I mean, uh, School). Jerry used to work up to Ste. Agathe (which is how he says it, Saint Ag-AT,) a stone’s throw from the northern tip of the state. I’m headed up that way later this month.
Living on any of the outer islands means you have signed on to a few lifestyle adjustments...stockpiling food, doing without that latte on the way to work, worrying about the weather to an almost neurotic degree. Most vacationers think we’re living a “simpler” life; most year-rounders wonder, at least once in a while, just what they were thinking.
A few of the guys out here had this thing where, when they mailed a letter on Matinicus to go to someone else on Matinicus, they’d just write the word “town” where the address should go. That seemed to be an accepted small-town tradition; maybe they do it where you live, too.
I was looking through a few recent issues of Down East a short while ago. What a small world we live in.
The question came up again recently. From time to time I am asked just how we, the several dozen who spend the winter on Matinicus Island, would manage should we need to confront a disaster, such as a flood, fire, tsunami, ice storm, outbreak of avian influenza, Y2K-style computer failure, etc.
On a Saturday in January, as my hands were deep in a bowl of potato bread dough, the phone rang. Unable to pick up the phone at the moment, I heard the voice of a mainland friend talking to the tape: “There's an article in today's paper, it mentions Matinicus...”
Once again, Matinicus Island was in the newspaper. My loaves shaped and rising in the pans, I checked the story online. Yes, once again, someone out there is writing about us, and once again, they make our home appear the very bitter end.
This time of year we struggle with control and chaos. There isn't much we can do about ice in the road, or about the unceasing wind, or no mail on account of weather, mice in the walls, water in the kerosene and it still gets dark early. We want white sugar and coffee, Hershey kisses and buttered toast and rum. We want bacon. We are racked with guilt over the same, brainwashed as we are with some baloney that we should somehow look like movie stars. This isn't seasonal-affective disorder, it's