Snake on a Drain
On July 16, a woman in Gorham was doing her laundry in her washing machine. The load included the usual assortment of clothing, as well as an eight-foot reticulated python.
I know what you’re thinking. Nobody washes an eight-foot python in a washing machine. Pythons get washed in a python tub. Or maybe they have python washes, like car washes. What I know for sure is that however you keep your python clean, it doesn’t involve standard laundry appliances.
The unidentified woman called the authorities, who dispatched a specialist in reptilian recovery. The python was captured, and, at last report, was resting comfortably at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.
The question is how the creature got in the washer in the first place. There are several theories. The snake might have escaped from somewhere and crawled up the washer’s drain pipe in search of clean underwear. This assumes the creature had plumbing experience and the proper tools. Another possibility: Someone the woman knows might have been playing a trick on her. That assumes the trickster happened to have a huge snake he’d been keeping around in case the opportunity for reptile-related hilarity presented itself.
I think it’s more likely this event was part of a terrorist plot. Even as I write these words, federal agents are probably securing washing machines throughout the state, allowing access to the appliances only to those with security clearances. I base this assessment on the fact that this was not the only instance in the past week of unusual activity by animals who may have been under the influence of unknown enemies of freedom.
The officials stressed that lobster meat is safe, but tomalley, which is sort of what lobsters have instead of a liver, tends to collect lots of unseemly gunk and shouldn’t be ingested by true patriots and anyone disinclined to contract shellfish poisoning. Tomalley can, however, be fed to pythons.
Meanwhile, at Ferry Beach State Park in Saco, a different set of state officials had uncovered an infestation of hemlock wooly adelgid, little bugs that suck the sap out of hemlocks, slowly killing them.
You probably shouldn’t eat adelgids either.
These critters haven’t previously been found this far north. On the other hand, pythons aren’t that common in Maine, either.
In fact, they’re only slightly less common than bears in Bangor. On July 19, a 150-pound bruin wandered into the city, frightening residents of the Fairmount Park neighborhood and delighting America’s foreign foes.
Because the bear posed a threat to a residential area, game wardens were forced to shoot it. Take that, al Qaeda.
There also may be a fungus among us. This spore causes white nose syndrome in bats. State officials (a different bunch than any mentioned above) are worried the disease, already responsible for thousands of bat fatalities in New York and Vermont, has reached Maine and is responsible for reports of dead bats in central and western parts of the state.
White nose syndrome is not believed to be responsible for the dead bats in the Red Sox lineup. That affliction is probably due to the absence of David Ortiz, Boston’s designated hitter, who’s scheduled to be in Portland for three nights this week to hunt pythons. No, sorry, I made that up. Ortiz is actually making a rehab appearance with the minor-league Portland Sea Dogs as he recovers from a wrist injury. The games are sold out, and some tickets being auctioned on eBay are going for 10 times their face value.
Also in Maine – and cheaper to see – Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
McCain is scheduled attend a fundraiser at the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, give a speech in South Portland and generally annoy local Democrats, who planned protests.
In spite of the poor economy, traffic at the Portland International Jetport (winner: Silliest Airport Name Ever) was up about 12 percent this fiscal year, mostly due to lower fares from two discount airlines, JetBlue and Air Tran.
Two Starbucks coffee shops in Bangor will be closed as part of the company’s plan to shut down more than 600 stores nationwide.
Portland stores escaped the ax, meaning you’re never more than eight feet from a Starbucks in Maine’s most populous burg.
Also in Portland business news, prostitutes have returned to the city’s Parkside neighborhood. During their vacation, the sex-for-sale crowd developed a new technique. They now attract attention by whistling at passing cars.
The police say that’s not exactly illegal, but they’re investigating possible terrorist links.
Grassroots democracy was alive and well in the effort to repeal new taxes on beer, wine, soda and insurance premiums. Organizers of a People’s Veto campaign turned in nearly 90,000 signatures (far more than the 55,000 needed) on July 15, making it likely there’ll be a vote on the issue this November.
They collected just over 30,000 names, far less than needed to block the restrictions. According to leaders of that campaign, it wasn’t a lack of support that doomed their effort, it was an attack by pythons. No, sorry, I misunderstood. It was a lack of time.
It’s probably easier to capture Osama bin Laden than it is to kill the idea of a racino at Scarborough Downs racetrack. Downs officials say they’ve hired the developer of the Cabela’s retail store in Scarborough and a landscape architect to come up with plans for a gambling facility and other development on the 250 buildable acres around the track.
Scarborough voters rejected allowing slot machines on the site in 2003.
In Bangor, where there are plenty of slots, there’s a shortage of donations to the American Folk Festival.
Only about 71 percent of the needed $1 million has been raised, possibly because many potential donors were scared away by pythons. If the gap isn’t closed soon, it could mean there won’t be a festival next year. This year’s event kicks off Aug. 22.
Finally, here’s a fishing story. No snakes. No terrorists. Just a man and his rod.
Bob Greene was preparing to fish from a Hallowell pier early on July 17, when he heard an odd noise. A bird, he thought. Then, he saw what appeared to be a log. The log cried for help. It was a man floating down the Kennebec River.
Greene considered jumping in to save him, but decided to call 911 first. A dispatcher told him to stay on the wharf. While Greene waited, he cast his line out and managed to hook the guy and reel him in. The man apparently jumped from an Augusta bridge about a mile upstream. He had serious injuries and was taken to a Portland hospital. Those of you planning similar rescues will probably want to know what lure Greene used. It was a Chug Bug. No relation to an adelgid.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.