There’s always been a certain voyeuristic aspect to the World Wide Web. It’s most evident these days in the endless queue of homemade videos — often embarrassingly personal — that people upload to YouTube. But back in the days of HTML 1.0, the little team of developers who created the Netscape browser set up what I suppose must have been the world’s first live webcam.
I was just chatting with a friend ... how many ghastly tales begin like that? The subject was “Japanese” gardens in Maine. I use quotation marks advisedly.
Many of us share an impulse to create some kind of Japanese feeling or atmosphere in our own backyards. Fortunately here in the Northeast — where the landscape does often have a suitably ancient and craggy look — it’s possible to attain such a thing with fewer contortions than in, say, Baltimore.
On Sunday, April 26, a snowman showed up at Hadlock Field in Portland.
There are places where waking up to the sound of singing birds is little more than an aggravation. In Maine, in April, it’s a miracle.
The Maine response to spring is, like many other things here, subtle. We welcome spring, but it’s not a noisy or public celebration. We’re more like the diehard crowd standing at the marathon finish line, urging the last wobbling runner to stumble across. Our celebration takes place on a sunny step out of the wind, as we close our eyes and take a long breath. We made it through another winter.
My mother’s father, a Congregationalist minister, was born in 1887, just four years after standard time was instituted. Before the railroads pushed for standardization (a boon to schedules), time was entirely local. A deacon at the church in your town or the next set his watch for noon when the sun was straight above, and then he rang the bell every day according to his watch, adjusting as necessary. Farmington time was ten or so minutes ahead of Bangor time, and both ahead of New York a half-hour or so.
I was looking through a few recent issues of Down East a short while ago. What a small world we live in.
I’ve been a fan of Videoport since 1995 when I was living in Portsmouth and driving to Portland to rent my movies. The store is that good.
Opened in 1987 by Bill Duggan, Videoport is a Portland icon of quirkiness and independence. They file their movies under headers such as Incredibly Strange Films (which includes the entire Russ Meyers collection) as well as a niche section dedicated strictly to Anime.
My friend Christopher Campbell is an architect living in Portland and working around the state. He just completed a residential job on an island in the midcoast and was looking to get it featured in Dwell, the magazine specializing in modern design for the built environment. I am a Dwell subscriber and pounce on it the minute it hits my mailslot. Pages and pages of sleek modern residences filled with creative people and innovative solutions to living space. Meow.
There is no denying the bittersweet nature of this time of year - the heat of the sun at its peak, blueberries being raked off bushes and finding their way into pies, jams, and even salad dressings, local businesses bustling with customers local and from away. The days are long and the nights are full of mischief. But still, there is an unmistakable hint of what is to come: the lone falling oak leaf, autumn catalogues in the mailbox, the sudden arrival of another school year.
That’s the overriding sentiment from residents in response to last week’s pronouncement by Forbes magazine, calling Portland “American’s Most Livable City.”
The rankings compared cities for income growth, cost of living and culture as well as low levels of crime and unemployment. Our neighbors in the top five are Bethesda, MD, Des Moines, IA, Bridgeport/Stamford, CT and Tulsa, OK.