During a recent email exchange with a friend of mine at the Maine Department of Tourism, I mentioned that perhaps it’s time to start marketing The Pine Tree State as the “garden spot” of the nation.
I was only half-kidding.
I was wandering around the Maine Mall with my wife about a week before Christmas. She was doing her “last minute” Christmas shopping. I was gawking around thinking that I should probably at least think about possibly starting my Christmas shopping sometime fairly soon.
My uncle Steve used to refer to Maine in December as being “ Dark as a pocket.” Maine poet Holman Day was partial to the phrase “Dark as a cellar shelf.” Feel free to insert whatever colorful local term you like. My point is that this pervasive darkness, this “Timmy’s-trapped-in-the-well” gloom we always experience here in Maine for the first three weeks in December is a daunting proposition by any name.
I’ve had an unusually busy schedule of performances in the past couple of months. I’ve been looking forward to a bit of “down time” at home with family and friends at Thanksgiving.
Every now and then some seemingly random incident in my life will kick off a series of other random events which, when viewed with a bit of hindsight, all seem to be weirdly connected, as s if some unseen director (cue “Twilight Zone” theme) is manipulating my day-to-day reality from just offstage. I know, I know, talk like that tends to suggest that I might benefit from a bit of R-and-R in a more controlled environment with some of those nice folks in the clean white coats. All kidding aside though, you’ve had this happen to you, right? Right?
A few years back I got a call from the Maine Department of the Interior. They were planning an international symposium in Portland, a prestigious scientific forum where experts could compare notes and ponder the future of wetlands, tidal estuaries, salt mashes, and things of that nature. I was advised that a very elite international group of scientists would be coming to Maine for the event. As often is the case, I was being asked to either kick off or finish up the conference on a lighter note. Hey, I figure my job’s as green as they come.
A new topic has been cropping up in conversation lately. People everywhere are comparing their “bucket lists.” Apparently, a bucket list, a term lifted from a recent film of the same name, is the “to do” list of stuff you hope to experience before “kicking the bucket.” That’s a new name for a very old idea. I suppose I must have a “bucket list,” although when I think about it I am struck by the number of my childhood dreams and aspirations which have actually come true. I’m very fortunate that way.
I confess that I am not now, nor have I ever been “good with my hands”, the durable old Maine phrase denoting mechanical aptitude. What makes this such a bitter pill to swallow is that I am a Mainer from a long line of Mainers and all Mainers are pretty much presumed to have been endowed at birth with a basic, practical, intuitive mechanical sense. It’s part of that whole “Yankee Ingenuity” thing , right? Sadly, in my case, the answer is “not likely, chummy!”
I’m pretty sure I’ve touched upon this topic a time or two in my previous blogs. But, by all means double check that for me, would you please? The idea that you’d care enough to do that is strangely comforting to me. But, I digress. The topic I’m referring to is that question frequently tossed my way by folks to whom I’ve never been formally introduced. You know who you are.
Yesterday I narrowly avoided yet another fender bender. I was in a line of cars at a shopping mall exit equipped with a traffic light and two lanes with big arrows indicating the left and right turn lanes. I was in the right lane with my turn signal on. A young lady in a Subaru was about a car length ahead of me in the left turn lane. At the last possible moment she wrenched her steering wheel violently to the right. After much honking and slamming of brakes she looked up, took evasive action, and we made it through the intersection with all fenders intact. She was embarrassed.