The Winter of Our Discombobulation
It hasn’t snowed in the western mountains of Maine since, let’s see, last July.
And that was just a dusting.
In Portland, the WinteRush festival scheduled for this weekend has been mostly cancelled, because there’s no winter – and no rush, either.
Rumor has it palm trees are sprouting in Ogunquit. After only two bottles of Allen’s coffee brandy, some observers have reported seeing alligators overturning ice-fishing shacks in Moosehead Lake. And according to a guy I know who hasn’t left his camp in T18R11 since November, Aroostook County farmers are seriously considering planting orange trees instead of potatoes.
Global warming? An errant jet stream? Rampant substance abuse?
Or something more sinister?
As Elizabethan meteorologist Bill Shakespeare put it, “Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”
So, it’s somehow York County’s fault?
Probably emissions from the MERC incinerator in Biddeford.
Whatever the cause of this unseasonably unsnowy weather, we can take heart in the fact that life in Maine has been proceeding in much the way it always has. We know this because the South Portland Police Department is keeping a careful eye on the proceedings of life in Maine, using its new cameras that record license plate numbers and store them in a database, where they can be matched against the plates of known climate-change advocates.
Also, those of wanted criminals, people who are behind on their child-support payments, celebrities trying to escape scandals and ordinary folks who’ve told their spouses they’re working late at the office but are actually dallying in a cocktail lounge with a hot co-worker.
Could the heat that co-worker is generating have something to do with this season’s lack of snow? I’ll have to ask the SoPo cops to launch an investigation.
If, that is, the Legislature doesn’t outlaw such surveillance as an invasion of privacy. Which would be too bad, because, while I’m a big believer in the sanctity of my personal life (not only are my windows covered in aluminum foil, but so is my car’s license plate), I think the intimate details of other people’s lives are prime fodder for public examination.
To that end, I’m highly supportive of an effort by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (motto: So Far, We’ve Discovered It’s Wet And Cold) to meddle in the private affairs of the monkfish.
Monkfish, for those who’ve never had the good fortune of encountering one, look a lot like the creature in “Alien,” except with a less pleasing personality. They eat – in order of preference – other fish, whales, oil tankers and people. Other than that, little is known about their personal habits, leading many scientists to conclude that their mating rituals may involve clandestine meetings in South Portland cocktail lounges.
Scientists, however, are not content to wait for the SoPo police and their secret surveillance to spot signs of spawning. Instead, they’re capturing some of the more sexually attractive monkfish (you probably don’t want to know how they can determine that) and implanting them with sensors that will allow researchers to trace their activities. Eventually, this will lead to conclusions on the best ways to preserve the monkfish stock and prevent over-fishing. Also, to some wild monkfish sex videos.
When it comes to romance on the high seas, Monkfish may have the territory to themselves this year. That’s because the government of Nova Scotia has rejected appeals to continue subsidizing seasonal ferry service between the province (which is Canadian for “state-like thingy”) and Maine.
That makes it unlikely (which is Canadian for “damn near impossible”) that the Cat will be making runs from Portland and Bar Harbor to Halifax (which is Canadian for “municipality most likely to experience an economic downturn due to the loss of significant amounts of Yankee tourist dollars”) this summer (which is Canadian for “winter”).
On the Maine side of the border, this setback shouldn’t have a huge impact, because this state has other attractions. I’ve seen several of them on South Portland police video (suburban housewives, out for a day of shopping at the mall, are picked up and lured into cocktail lounges by suave, smooth-talking monkfish).
But if you’re seeking less racy fare, Maine is a hotbed (could that be what’s keeping it snowless?) of historical artifacts. Just this past week, a map belonging to General George Washington was sold at an auction in Fairfield for $1.15 million.
That map was worth every penny, because it showed how to get from Greenville to Jackman without driving on Route 15, which may be the worst road in the state.
One area legislator described that route as a “goat trail,” although several area goats said they wouldn’t walk on it if you paid them in million-dollar maps from the colonial era.
“It’d be a waste of resources,” said one, “because we goats would just eat those maps.”
Which reminds me that while we were discussing Route 15, I was informed that the map sold in that auction wasn’t of Maine roads at all. It depicted Washington’s plan for defeating the British at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
This map has much information that relates to our own time and circumstances. On the eve of the conflict, Washington, who contracted with Bill Shakespeare for weather reports, learned that a huge winter storm was about to hit Virginia. The Father of Our Country wisely moved his troops to a spot where they’d be sure to be safe from the blizzard’s rampages:
With his foe’s forces disordered by three feet of white stuff, Washington called forth the legions of the staunchest friends of the fledgling United States:
You can see little drawings on the map of Hessians fleeing from toothy sea creatures intent on biting their mercenary butts.
It all worked out perfectly for the Yanks, who forever after promised to honor their ichthyoidal allies by holding the annual Festival of the Monkfish, during which criminals caught by South Portland police cameras were tossed into the ocean and eaten.
In recent years, though, I don’t recall many regular observations of that ceremony. This ingratitude probably makes the monkfish angry. And when they get angry, you know what happens.
They divert all the snowstorms.
Al Diamon will read e-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as he finishes re-reading “Richard III.”