It’s once again safe to eat clams, mussels and oysters. The evil algae bloom called red tide has departed Maine waters
, rendering our shellfish pure and our hearts gladdened. Or as glad as they can be, given the fact that’s it’s now rained for 413 consecutive days. The algae probably left because the weather was so lousy.
Also clearing out: President George W. Bush. He made what could be the final visit of his presidency to the family compound in Kennebunkport
, which prompted what will likely be the final anti-war protest there.
While the aforementioned departures made at least some people happy, there was no similar outpouring of joy on Sutton Island at the termination of the long-standing tradition of having the mail delivered to a trash can
on the municipal dock.
The U.S. Postal service has determined that allowing a private ferry service to dump the deliveries for the 25 summer residences of this small part of the Cranberry Isles in the battered can violates more federal regulations than the entire Bush Department of Justice. Terrorists could get in that trash can. Pythons could nest there (although, for the first time in three weeks, there were no python sightings reported anywhere in Maine). The scum at the bottom of the thing could be breeding another round of red tide. Speaking of tides, Sutton Islanders will now have to brave them in making the 2-mile trip to Northeast Harbor to pick up their orders from Amazon.com.
This past week also brought news that some things aren’t gone, but they’re going. Prepare to make your last visit for a while to Baldacci’s Restaurant in Bangor.
The eatery owned by the governor’s family is moving out of its space off Broadway because the Baldaccis have sold the property.
The restaurant may return at another location, but the site and timetable are as undetermined as the next arrival of red tide.Other departures: Piping plovers. Almost two-thirds of the nesting pairs spotted on Maine beaches a few years ago have vanished,
possibly because they could no longer get mail delivery to their trash cans, but more likely because of encroachment on their fragile habitat by people and predators.
To counteract that problem, state officials are proposing expanding protection zones for the birds in Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough and Biddeford.
There are plenty of bald eagles in Maine,
so state wildlife experts say it might be time to remove the big birds from the list of threatened species.
If the change is made, it would still be illegal to mess with the creatures, but some restrictions on landowners with eagle nests on their property could be lifted.
Here’s something I wish would go away: the continuing notice in the Portland Sea Dogs program that reads, “THAT’S PRETTY IMPRESSIVE.” It’s been running for much of the season, detailing what percentage of the minor-league team’s runs have scored with two outs. The allegedly impressive figure is currently at 39 percent. According to figures for major-league teams I’ve been able to find, that’s actually pretty average.
Time to list the arrivals, some welcome, some not.Cheap lobster
is available in abundance.
The weak economy has cut into sales, driving down the cost of the crustaceans to below six bucks a pound.
Cheap gasoline is back. If by “cheap” you mean slightly less than four bucks a gallon.
While most of the state was still paying near that price, those stopping at stations in Newport, Canaan and Burnham were able to fill up for under $3.70 a gallon.
Of course, you could do away with your gas guzzler altogether, replacing it with a nice hydrogen-powered car. A national exhibit of vehicles that run on electricity generated by hydrogen will get underway in Maine on August 10 in Cape Elizabeth and August 11 in Portland.
Or you could just do without a car. South Portland officials are considering building a trolley system.
Which sounds like a great idea, so long as they don’t plan to run the thing on electricity. Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro both announced big rate increases for businesses this week.
The news was better for natural gas users. What had been expected to be a rate hike of 17 percent for Northern Utilities customers was reduced to 3.36 percent b
ecause of a sharp decline in prices.
Steve LaVerdiere is not one to let the high price of fuel force him into a staycation. LaVerdiere (yes, from the same family that used to own all the drug stores) is intent on being the first Mainer is space.
He’s plopped down $200,000 for a ticket on adventurer Richard Branson’s Space Ship Two,
which is scheduled to take commercial passengers for a short ride in outer space, beginning in a year or two. Sure makes that trolley idea seem old-fashioned.
For a slightly more conventional vacation idea, why not visit the soon-to-be-completed Somerset County Jail.
The $30-million facility is scheduled to open in October, complete with pods decorated in calming colors, skylights, hot tubs, high-definition TVs and a dining area with a menu that features piping plover and eagle. Actually, I made up everything after the skylights. The jail will include a specially designed central plumbing system that is designed to stop inmates from stuffing things down the toilets. That ought to be worth seeing.
If you decide to stay home for your vacation, you might do a little gardening. No equipment? No problem – if you live in Turner. The local library has begun loaning out spades and pruning shears, along with the gardening books.
The idea is to help folks grow their own veggies without having to make a major investment in hardware.
Finally, I’m pleased to announce that a Maine restaurant has made GQ magazine’s list for producing one of “The 20 Best Cocktails in America.”
Listed along with such big-city joints as Musso & Frank in Los Angeles (best martini), Range in San Francisco (the Sunset Zinger) and Nacional 27 in Chicago (the strawberry-rhubarb-basil-balsamic-mojito) is El Camino in Brunswick for its pomegranate margarita. Writer Michael Paterniti apparently sampled the beverage last winter and found it suitable to the season. “Oh god of blue agave, thank you!” Paterniti wrote. “I am in Guadalajara now. Two more and I’ll have enough energy to chip the glacier off my driveway again.”
Or endure another month of rain.Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.