If you hear a crunching sound, it’s just my computer being dropped from a small airplane onto a ledge somewhere. I’ll get to why in a minute.
It's interesting how your view of life can sometimes change quite suddenly. It's as though you've been taking a cross-country journey — an old-fashioned sort of journey, by train, let's say — and for a long time the landscape does not seem to change much at all. There are endless variations on a certain set of themes — here a stand of scrubby pines, there the back side of a warehouse — and after a while your attention kind of wanders. Then all at once (what happened? did you doze off for half an hour?) you look outside and the whole world is different.
It's a whole new decade, I hear.
I'm a little reticent about proclaiming this unequivocally. The scars have barely healed from all that tongue-lashing we got ten years ago from number-conscious folks who insisted that, properly speaking, the new millennium would not kick over until 2001. Anyone who thought otherwise was "innumerate." I've heard nothing from those folks this time around. Maybe they're all busy studying for a math test.
On Matinicus Island, making lobster chowder is generally a man’s work.
I made it a point when launching this blog never to write about the weather. Blathering on about the weather, I reasoned — though we all do it in Maine constantly — ought to be reserved for social networking sites (by which I mean, for example, the checkout line at the grocery store). It has no place in a sober and literate forum like Down East.
There aren’t many of us around.
An intrepid sort with a tight hat who doesn’t mind a bit of the Alberta Clipper in the face can walk north the mile and a half down the ridge of the island until he emerges from the trees into the airstrip parking area. He will pass about thirty structures, roughly six of which are occupied. Another five or six will have somebody in residence from time to time, a lobsterman on no particular schedule. On Matinicus Island this time of year, most of the homes sit empty.
Our summer visitor friends rhapsodize about island life, about peace and quiet, and about self-sufficiency as if it were their latest hobby. Many good folks have lake camps up long narrow roads, and dream of the day when they might decide to quit the grind and see the whole year through watching the loons. Others relish the small-town lifestyle, with church suppers and men working together to find a community Christmas tree, school plays, Ladies Aid societies, and rarely a stranger in sight.
"What's in a name?" wonders love-smitten Juliet. "That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."
Well, maybe — there are roses and roses. Some smell better than others, and lots of modern hybrids have next to no smell at all. But Juliet was just a kid; let's leave horticultural disputes to grown-ups with time on their hands.
The schoolkids walked up to my house to pick up the instructions for the dreidel game. They had in mind to download this simple Chanukah game’s directions but something was wrong in the ether and the school finds it has no Internet today. All manner of technical people assured our teacher that the problem was not within their particular bailiwick, so the assumption was made that it was evil spirits, and it would fall to somebody at Maine Laptop Initiative to effect the exorcism.
It's odd, the effect a little snowfall has on even the most seasoned Maine drivers. Something clicks in our brains — or perhaps fails to click — and we dash out onto the public roadways and proceed to do strange and irrational things.
Add to this the well-attested affects of holiday spirit — I'm not just talking about the kind of spirit that comes in bottles — and it's probably safe to anticipate that we're embarking upon a silly season during which the median level of driver sanity will plummet to its annual low.