One of my favorite pieces of writing by E.B. White is an essay called "Clear Days," written in the autumn of 1938 while the leaders of Western Europe were busy dealing with the devil in Munich. White got so aggravated, watching helplessly from a great distance as the disaster unfolded, that he climbed up on his barn in Brooklin, Maine, and installed a cupola.
"[A] barn," wrote White, "is the best place anybody could pick for sitting out a dance with a prime minister and a demigod."
The big news this week is that the Portland Press Herald was finally sold. There have been discussions and negotiations for months and finally, the new owners of our city’s daily paper have signed on the dotted line. As a result, there are 31 less managers throughout the company and the real estate assets are already up for sale with a line of potential buyers out the door. The main building housing the operations sits at the top of the Old Port, directly across from City Hall, with the old printing facility and massive parking lot across the street.
I just had a modest Maine epiphany. I was puttering around in the woods out front, around noon on a showery Sunday, deciding whether to move a self-sown lady's mantle, Alchemilla vulgaris, and whether to whack down a 25-foot fir partly shading my treasured golden-stemmed bamboo, Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis.' (The lady's mantle stayed and the fir departed.)
Watershed moments galore:
Things that are making me happy about Portland this week:
"This doesn’t look like Aroostook County to me.”
The City of Portland has figured out a creative way to support the arts. The new arts tax increment financing (TIF) is the first of its kind in the country. It recognizes that as artists make a place more attractive, they threaten their own sustainability. So now, when developers make improvements through renovation or construction in the Arts District, an increase in property value means giving back.
I fear there is much we still don't understand about this child-rearing business, despite millennia of parental head-scratching.
If you look at the chart, you’ll see that Matinicus Island is served by the Maine State Ferry Service. Don’t make too many plans around that. We get an average of 30 state vehicle ferry trips per year; that’s generally one a month during the winter, up to four per month during the summer. The ferry makes the two-hour trip from the Rockland terminal on a very irregular schedule determined entirely by the tide calendar, and making no sense whatsoever to those unfamiliar with such realities, including those innocents who assume that if the boat left at 10:00 a.m.
We are not yokels here in Maine. We read books and keep abreast of current events and speak an advanced form of English. If only we dressed in black, you could drag us to swell parties all over the Isle of Manhattan and we would not embarrass ourselves.
And yet we are people who live among moose.