“What the heck is going on out there on that island?”
They keep calling, e-mailing, showing up on the doorstep — reporters and freelancers, summer visitors who feel that they’re insiders and off-island friends who think this place is nearly outer darkness. Some are truly concerned about troubled neighbors; others are just vultures, eager for
sensationalist dirt. The first group I cannot help. The second is worthy of not one minute; I won’t give them a thing.
I think the time has come to inquire seriously into whether gardening in Maine might be a symptom — or perhaps a cause — of mental instability.
Yes, I know: gardening is usually thought to be a healthful, centering kind of activity, a nice way of reconnecting with the natural world. And maybe in the end you get a few edible tomatoes out of it, or some flowers to stick in a vase for the dining table. One thinks of the Obama girls rooting about in the organic celery bed. One smiles fondly. But the Obama girls don't live in Maine.
Mainers undoubtedly have faults, like everyone else, but we are not known, at least, for cringing and whining.
It was downright cosmopolitan. I got to attend the opening night for two new Portland restaurants on the same evening.
One day, circa 1968, I was browsing the shelves at the public library when my eye fell on the bold cover of Making It, a memoir by Norman Podhoretz. I checked it out immediately — I was fifteen years old, and under a hopeful misimpression as to the contents. It turned out Podhoretz, the longtime editor of Commentary and a luminary of the New York literary scene, had written a book about money, success and social class in postwar America.
Michael Jackson dies, Sarah Palin quits, Governor Mark Sanford goes to Argentina for love, Senator Ensign pays the piper, U.S. healthcare reform falters, recovers, falters again, recovers, I hope, Ted Kennedy, lion of the senate, down but not out, GM goes bankrupt, Chrysler reorganizes, In Tehran, an election, more or less. In North Korea, nukes, sort of. Prime Minister Berlusconi runs the G-8 conference, young girlfriends or no. Dick Cheney ran his own covert kill operations, so it seems. Serena Williams beats her sister Venus for the Wimbledon Championship. A study shows that swearing makes pain easier to bear.
Here are some more thoughts from the Shoe is on the Other Foot department, wherein yours truly drops all pretense of Outlaw Island cynicism and reverts to the status of map-toting, camera-bearing tourist. Of course, my trip to Monhegan was entirely about work. “Looks like I have to go to Monhegan,” I mentioned to a couple of the regulars, who winced sympathetically.
As a species, it would seem, we are of two minds about terrible weather.
On the one hand, we hate it. Here in Maine about two-thirds of our casual chit-chat is spent lamenting the latest Arctic blast or Biblical downpour or scorching heat wave or freak tsunami. We've developed and field-tested an elaborate range of weapons, both technical and pharmacological, to cope with such things, or at least mitigate their worst effects.
..a travel journal, harmless rant, confession and thank-you note in three parts.
(for Barbara H.)
There’s little more irritating than some half-baked journalist showing up out of nowhere, spending an inconsequential snippet of time exposing him- or herself to your hometown (or industry, or cause, or art,) and then proceeding with unmitigated audacity to write with authority about that place as if he or she actually knew anything.
I always liked that “unmitigated audacity” bit. That was from Frank Zappa.
It's hard to know what do with ourselves as the rainy season stretches into June. My daughter has a summer job as the nanny for two young girls — bright and energetic creatures — and her chief professional challenge so far has been finding ways to keep them away from the television.