Red Tide, Pink Gunk and Mystery Poop
This is not one of those annoying, whiney postings complaining about how much it’s rained in the past month. That’s because I’m not one of those annoying, whiney people who can only see the gloomy side of the unending soggy weather. I’m the type of person willing to accept that there are definite advantages to the deluge.
For one thing, the danger of forest fires is nonexistent. For another, nobody is complaining about drought. Ever since the potholed road washed out, local public works officials have stopped claiming it didn’t need much in the way of serious work this year. And with the river at flood stage, I’ve snagged some nice stuff it’s washed down from the expensive houses upstream, including a DVD of “Waterworld” and several vintage “Aquaman” comics, thoughtfully sealed in plastic.
What I’m hoping will float past before the weather changes is a grill. Our old one finally collapsed into a pile of rust chips and rancid pork grease last fall.
I know from a friend’s experience a few years ago that grills will float. Lucille’s (not her real name – oh wait, it is) grill somehow caught on fire, so she pushed it into the river, whereupon the propane tank – still aflame – popped to the surface and began drifting downstream toward the nearest town. Concerned that the tank would explode in the midst of civilization, she and her brother set out along the bank in hot pursuit. They were aided by helpful camp owners, who allowed as to how it seemed to them that, yes, they had seen a flaming propane tank float past recently. Eventually, the little ball of fire drifted close enough to shore to be retrieved and extinguished without loss of life or permanent damage to anything other than the perpetrator’s reputation for common sense.
Ever since then, we’ve had a saying in this area: If at all possible, live upstream from Lucille.
Back to the rain. The constant downpour has washed so much stuff into rivers and streams (today’s take: a nearly readable copy of the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and an unopened carton of Wet Naps) that sewage and other contaminants have flowed over the state’s clam beds, prompting their closing. In addition, red tide – a form of poisonous algae that feeds on flaming propane tanks – has drifted into many areas, particularly down east.
So, now there’s a shortage of clams (although, as noted last week, there’s still a surplus of lobsters), just as the tourist season gets underway. Except there don’t seem to be many tourists, either, because they know that any steamers they order are going to have traveled here from further away than they did, or because it’s cold and rainy, and if they stay here for any length of time, they’ll get some kind of weird fungus growing between their toes.
Without people from away to make fun of, I’m forced to resort to making fun of people from here. Let’s see, I already did Lucille, so the next name on my list is Christopher Edgecomb of Mariaville. Edgecomb was arrested early Sunday morning in Waterville on a variety of charges.
At the time of his arrest, Edgecomb, 20, wasn’t wearing any pants. His face and neck were covered with pink stuff that was at first thought to be red tide, but later determined to be Pepto-Bismol. According to witnesses, he’d been stomping on a Volkswagen, for reasons that may have had less to do with any latent animosity toward German automobile manufacturers and more to do with excessive alcohol consumption.
I’m not sure what sort of alcohol that might have been, but I can tell you from personal experience that almost no kind mixes well with Pepto. Or, for that matter, with red tide.
A short distance from where Edgecomb was nabbed, police also discovered somebody had broken into a vacant house. Crime scene investigators quickly uncovered a clue to the identity of the intruder in the form of a pair of pants containing Edgecomb’s wallet. After carefully surveying the crowd, the cops determined only one person matched up with these pieces of evidence, thereby wrapping up the case in (boxer) short order.
Which brings me to a much bigger mystery: Is there a mountain lion wandering around central Maine?
Mountain lions – also known as cougars, pumas, wildebeests or sasquatches – have been extinct in Maine for many decades. There have been a couple of confirmed cases of the big cats being spotted, but they were probably the result of idiots allowing their illegally kept pet mountain lions to run wild.
This case may be similar. The evidence? The discovery of a pair of pants tailored for a mountain lion, complete with tail hole. My tendency is to dismiss this item as a hoax on the basis of there having been no sightings ever of mountain lions – even Snagglepuss – wearing pants.
More convincing is the uncovering of a large footprint in Winslow, near where a woman and her children had reported seeing a huge cat last week.
The woman was apparently sober, and was not named either Edgecomb or Lucille. So, it could be true. And state officials are still studying something discovered in north Augusta in May. They say the object could be mountain-lion scat.
Or it could be some other kind of poop. Or, I suppose, Shinola.
Frankly, the less I know about how they determine the difference, the happier I’ll be.
If any exotic animals start defecating in Portland, the police plan to be ready. Chief James Craig wants some of his officers equipped with Tasers for three months to see how effective they’d be in subduing Old Port drunks, dog walkers who don’t pick up after their pets and other assorted threats to public safety.
But Portland city councilors say any such experiment must be approved by them.
Apparently, the councilors are concerned about vague wording in municipal ordinances that make it difficult to legally distinguish between local elected officials, threats to public safety and scat.
While the politicians dither over employing shock guns to stem the rising tide of poop, Pepto-Bismol imbibers and carnivorous wildlife, who knows what sorts of fearsome creatures may already be defiling the parks of the state’s most populous city.
Better stay inside. There may be scarier things out there than the rain.
Lucille, for instance.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.