The man did not smile. In fact, he looked entirely startled when hearing where our little island girl was about to begin high school. He looked me squarely in the eye. “You realize she’s going to get an excellent education,” he pronounced in his starchiest tone. I can almost see him standing up on his tippy toes in his docksiders to emphasize that truth. It was all I was worth to resist blurting out: “Oh, and all this time we thought she was running away to join the circus!”
It's good to live among people who take trees seriously.
I once had some neighbors, down in Virginia, who dug up a row of Leyland cypresses in my yard because they feared the trees might, someday, if they grew another thirty feet, block the view from their house on the hill. They didn't even bother to lie about it.
We had strict orders: no rainbow tie-dyed sweatshirt from Reny’s, no black and red plaid wool coat, no Grundens, and never, ever, follow up an introduction to a teacher with the query “Didja gitcher deer yet?”
Ah, Parents’ Weekend at the posh boarding school. Tarzan Visits the Big City. Well, not quite.
In Maine you never know what to expect, and there was a while not long ago when I reckoned the world was about to end. I can't recall why now. But as I look outside it seems that the world is still a going concern and the fall colors in the woods out back seem, if anything, a little better than average this year. Call that Item 1.
Four of us were expected at the Island Teacher’s Conference, sponsored by the Island Institute and held in Belfast last week. Teachers, school committee members, and other staff from one-room schools and some of the other island schools would be attending. The networking is fun; the hard part is getting there. Needless to say, the weather forecast did not guarantee conditions “flyable” on the day we needed to cross the bay.
My season has ended. The big steel display rack is down, and there are no more wee dark hours with Hobart the mixer and the BBC on the radio. This time of year, I bake a round for my regular neighbors every couple of weeks, and things are considerably less structured. I love my summer business, but there is no denying that even when living life means being surrounded by cinnamon rolls, doing the bakery thing is absolutely work.
April has a terrible rep in these parts — longtime Mainers are known to schedule vacations just to avoid it — but I can't understand why. All that mud is such a splendid metaphor for life arising from the primordial ooze, and there are flowers at the end of it.
October: this is the real heartbreaker.
My desk, at the moment, is a large cable reel that once held electric wire. My office chair is a picnic cooler. Around me in my little campsite: balsam fir saplings and the breeze overhead in the pines (I do have to pick pine needles out of the keyboard from time to time). On the other side of a few trees, the sounds of livestock, power tools, laughter, and trucks. I am at the Common Ground Country Fair, in Unity, but few of you will see me.
Life is good when you can get the parts.
One of the fishermen called up a few days ago from down the island. “I’ve gotta have a weird fitting.” He described what he wanted: quarter-inch pipe by three-quarter-inch flare with a 90-degree angle. “That’s not weird.” Sure, I thought, hearing one side of the conversation from the next room. It’s not weird for HERE.