I was driving to my favorite coffee shop early (Is it possible that I was actually driving “In the Early Mornin’ Rain”?) yesterday morning when I heard the news about the passing of Mary Travers on my car radio. That seems appropriate since, along with millions of other folks, I first “met” Mary Travers on the radio. As a boy growing up in the 50s and 60s in Boothbay Harbor the radio, in particular AM WBZ in Boston which we could get clear as a bell due to something called “skip distance,” was a magical place for me.
While driving around New England this summer I’ve been keeping a low-level, almost subconscious tally of old venues I’ve performed at over the years. I’ve found myself driving past buildings like the old Opera House in Lebanon, New Hampshire, or The Colonial Theatre in Keene, for instance, and thought: “Hey I remember being on that stage back in…” Of course many of these halls are still on the “circuit” for me. I have shows coming up this fall at The Concord City Auditorium and Caribou P.A.C., for instance.
Why should we get a pass? Between the economic recession and the vacationing-in-a-moldy-pup-tent weather, the business climate in Maine this summer has been pretty dismal. In times like these, of course, I’m even more grateful than usual to be self-employed. The old line “I may not get a paycheck this week. But at least I still have a job.” has a particularly strong resonance lately. Fortunately, forty years without a “day job” has kept my survival instincts well honed.
We spent Memorial Day weekend in Washington County again this year. The sun was out pretty much all weekend and so, of course, were the black flies. This year the mosquitoes seem to be waging a major counter-offensive in their endless turf war with Maine’s infamous black flies. Think of it as a downeast, backwoods version of the Crips and the Bloods, only you supply the blood.
It’s nearing the end of April and for most folks in the northeastern U.S. spring has sprung. On a recent trip to Boston I was bowled over by balmy breezes rustling through the riotously blossoming Rhododendrons and Forsythia. Then I came back to Maine, where my wife, a transplanted Minnesotan, insists that we have no such thing as spring.
She’s makes a good point.
I’ve recently returned from a marvelous, if all too brief, visit to Key Largo, Florida. Florida is a great place for a Maine humorist at this time of year. Obviously the weather, with temps in the high 70s low 80s, is a welcome break from the frigid March madness we’ve been “enjoying” in Maine this year, but there’s another factor that can’t be ignored. In late winter and early spring there seem to be darned near as many Mainers in the Sunshine State as there are back home.
Yesterday I received a voicemail message from Terry Jr., our contractor, carpenter, and all ‘round build-anything guy in Washington County.
Terry Jr. is in the process of taking over more and more of his dad’s (Terry Sr.) carpentry up in our neck of the woods. As far as I can tell, though young in years, the son is cut from the same bolt of fabric as the father. His work certainly has a family resemblance to the old man’s,solid, functional with a no-baloney form-follows-function quality and that’s marvelous.
When I was a kid the old timers around town used to refer to our Maine climate as “Nine months of winter and three months of pretty rough sleddin.”
As I write this I find myself once again pleasantly, albeit unexpectedly, ensconced at my lakeside camp in rural Washington County. Not that there is actually such a thing as urban Washington County, you understand.
If you’ve just discovered my blog, welcome aboard. If you’ve been following along you’ll recall that at the time of my last posting I was shoving off for a road trip to Washington and Aroostook counties. The plan was to drive to my camp in Washington County on February 12th, stay overnight, drive the back way to Presque Isle the next morning, stop for an interview at WAGM in Presque Isle at 10:30 a.m. then continue ( you won’t catch me saying “continue on" — my eighth grade teacher, Mrs.