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.
Maine is in the middle of mating season for amphibians.
Wood frogs and spotted salamanders have been frequenting that topless coffee shop in Vassalboro, hoping to hook up with suitable mates. So far, the results have been kind of disappointing, at least from the frogs’ and salamanders’ points of view. The topless waitresses have displayed little enthusiasm for wallowing in icy vernal pools with cold-blooded paramours.
All right, I’m calling it. We’ve had the last hard frost of the season. It happened about a week ago. I should have made a note -- let’s call it April 15th, for ease of memory.
I’ve written here and in the print edition of Down East about the VA medical center at Togus. My take, drawn largely from my own observations, has been strongly positive.
That has drawn a couple of responses from readers — a couple as in two, so far — which are striking in that they represent almost polar ends of the spectrum.
I could use a tank. Good traction in the winter. Gets to those hard-to-reach places during mud season. Frightens away pesky tourists in the summer. And if I want to go leaf-peeping in the fall, I won’t have to worry about being shot by hunters.
Also, having a tank in the front yard would be an excellent conversation starter with my neighbors.
Neighbor: “I see you have a tank.”
Me: “Surrender or die, you scum.”
Handel’s Messiah was written for Easter, not Christmas. Which really makes perfect sense. Because when you think about it, an amazing blessed infant is born every few seconds all over the Earth. That famous “Hallelujah” chorus — the one that prompted the king of England to jump to his feet — was meant as an exaltation of something rather more unprecedented.
What a week it has been!
On Tuesday, school was cancelled on account of rain. Rain, I hasten to add, of Old Testament ferocity, washing out driveways and flooding pastures and carving out new watercourses where previously there were none.
Many years ago, during a crucial stage in my moral development, I figured out that if I were ever to decide to do something illegal, I would probably not call a press conference to announce it. And I also decided that once any such dastardly deed was completed, I almost certainly wouldn’t distribute video of my involvement in it to the media.
Picture a guy in bikini underwear picking blueberries. The weather turns nasty, the temperature drops to the 40s, and he gets disoriented and lost. Will Maine's sportsmen and women pay to find him?
That rhetorical question was asked and answered in 1996 by Paul Jacques, then a state representative from Waterville. “They get lost because they do stupid things. They get themselves in a situation, and we go bail them out,” Jacques said. “But the sportsmen are getting sick and tired of paying for it.”