"I miss Saturday-morning cartoons," pronounced my son's friend Miles, sprawled on a battered sofa in the basement lair. "Now we've got Saturday-morning depressing environmental documentaries."
My son Tristan, hunched over his computer, muttered in quasi-verbal agreement.
Heather, our island schoolteacher, assured me that I ought to tell the rest of the story.
You want heartwarming, we've got heartwarming. My daughter and I have agreed to get matching tattoos.
I should say at the outset that I am not a tattoo person. I am a fairly staid middle-aged lapsed Episcopalian novelist and high-school English teacher. So much for Maine eccentricity. My daughter Callie is nineteen and, until the day before Thanksgiving, innocent of skin embellishment.
As I write it is the day before Thanksgiving. Here on Matinicus, several of us have absolutely no idea where we’ll be eating tomorrow. Like everything else around here, it’ll depend on the weather.
Daughter Emily just called me from the supermarket in Rockland. “Shut in thick,” I reported, “and doesn’t look too promising.”
It is such a lovely day to go to the dump.
Anyone rooting about for signs and portents this week will have had an easy go of it. Two Maine firefighters, in separate incidents, are arrested for arson. Sarah Palin launches a "book" tour. A mysterious snake-like creature is sighted on a Pennsylvania road. The President bows to an Asian emperor.
“What do you do,” the summer visitor asks, “out here on this rock, if somebody gets sick?”
Matinicus does have a tiny little EMS service. We don’t have an actual ambulance, we cannot offer any sophisticated care, or even a guaranteed trip to the hospital (it’s all about the weather, as usual,) but the patient is not necessarily on his own.
My young friend Alex — in my mind's eye, still a grinning, freckled 10-year-old — is off to join the army. Not the U.S. Army — the Finnish Army, known over there as the Maavoimat. Alex enjoys dual citizenship, having been born to a sparkling and artistic Finnish mom and a soft-spoken Yankee boatbuilder with the soul of a poet. Even by the standards of coastal Maine, where you meet interesting characters all the time, this family has always struck me as particularly wonderful.
Going away to high school isn’t always all fun and games.
Son Eric called up in November of 2005 from Gould Academy, in the western mountain town of Bethel, Maine. He’d lived all his life on Matinicus Island, and now was a freshman in high school, unsentimentally reveling in his new life as a mountain kid. “I need all my outdoor gear, and I need it right away. I’m joining the Ski Patrol.”
“You’re doing WHAT?”
“Ski Patrol. I know a whole lot about medical emergencies. I’ve been watching you guys (the island EMTs) for years.”