Spooks, Omens - Anything But Politics, Please
Shirtsleeve weather, days before Halloween. Who would have believed it? That's item one.
Item two: The morning DJ on the local community radio station, WERU, played a set of decent music that lasted all the way through my 25-minute commute to Rockland. I'd put an exclamation point here but it might detract from the serious tone of this blog.
Such strange happenings appeal to the crude pagan sensibility that has crept over me at this season, as the leaves float down and a full Hunter's Moon gleams through the mist and a frenzied Maine electorate prepares to hurl itself into the sea. One more omen and I'm calling it: It's the end of The Way Life Should Be.
But let's step back from the brink a moment. Let's call forth images of Halloweens past and console ourselves with the comforting thought that the Wild Hunt passed us by, life kept moving right along through November, and the holiday shopping season found us broke but reasonably cheerful.
My old neighborhood in Rockport village used to be great for trick-or-treating. There were packs of little kids about and the normally quiet streets rang with their shrieks and laughter. The neighbor who refused to celebrate Halloween was polite enough about it, and the couple who gave kids pamphlets about Satanism had already put their house on the market. The large and jolly family on the corner near the nature preserve hosted an open house with tangy pumpkin soup and the little monsters looked especially cute gobbling treats by their wood stove.
Now that I think of it, though, this story is kind of a bummer: the jolly family moved away, all the little kids got big, and the neighborhood was taken over by second-home folks who were long gone by October. Our last Halloween there, the place felt like a ghost town.
The lesson, I suppose, is that all things pass. Maine changes as we all do, and maybe that's a good thing, from a larger perspective.
My own perspective, I must confess, has narrowed of late. I've been spending a lot of time with my cat and a lot taking pictures with my iPhone. Mostly I keep my head down and avoid listening to the news (though that thing with the shark was pretty cool). I know this isn't the most constructive attitude, and sometimes I dip into the stream of e-mail from admirable sources like Equality Maine and feel a momentary pang of guilt. Then I tap Delete and pull the blankets back up. (A signal advantage of portable internet devices is that you can use them where the blankets are.)
How many Mainers feel this way, I wonder? Disengaged, drawn inward, battened down? It's hard to tell from conventional polling, which relies on such time-honored data-points as "How likely are you to vote?" I'm dead certain to vote — Mitchell, Michaud, Piotti, O'Brien — but somehow that seems beside the point. Back in 2008 (remember that?) I felt like I was on the right side of history. In 2010, as in 1992, I feel like I'm on the wrong one.
I don't really get it. What are people so angry about? They don't look angry, gathered around the table chatting at Drake's Corner Market. In fact I've only met one certifiably angry person these past few months: an elderly tourist with whom I shared a bench in Camden outside Cappy's Chowder House. This fellow lives, he said, in a retirement village on a golf course in Pennsylvania, and his taxes are too high. We've got to do something.
Everybody else I know seems pretty cheerful. What a beautiful autumn we've been having! And still it lingers on the cusp of November: the oaks around my house are as golden as maples, some kind of tall blue aster — a gift from my ex in Virginia — is blooming in the yard, and on this stretch of the coast we're still waiting for the first hard frost. I can't find anything to get mad about.
Yeah, times are tough. Is this something new? Are we stalwart Mainers or squealing mice? Tough times are as old and familiar as the hills around here, and the whole point of Maine, I thought, is that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder and get through these things together. Maybe all things pass, but this seems like something worth hanging onto.
For the time being I'm stocking up on blankets. And the new MacBook Air looks pretty cool.