It wasn't me who decided I ought to have a front porch. I just wanted a nice deck on the side of the house, facing the woods and the wetland and maybe providing a glimpse of Penobscot Bay. The notion of a front porch sprang from the fecundant mind of my architectural designer, an energetic young man named Eric Allyn, who seemed to feel that my otherwise unassuming cottage — less than 1000 square feet on a full stomach, clad in rough-cut board-and-batten siding — could use a touch of grandeur.
If you go to the hospital with an earache, and wait, and wait some more, and then somebody comes in with an ax in the back of his head and he is invited to skip ahead of you in line, are you rightfully indignant?
I hope not.
You could say, “Hey, I was here first. I’ve been waiting for quite some time. I deserve to have my discomfort taken seriously. Who the hell does that fellow think he is?”
A former editor of this magazine was fond of announcing, with a mischievous gleam in his eye, "I'm going on vacation next week." At which point, you could either ask the obvious follow-up question or not. Within two seconds, he'd tell you anyway: "I'm going to Maine!"
The storms last winter howled and smashed and tore and the old spruce trees easily gave way. We live surrounded by Picea Mariana, the black spruce, identified by that well-known silvicultural scientist Edna St. Vincent Millay (who mentioned these specific shoreline trees in her poetry). The Internet says otherwise, but I was told by a forester once that these trees don’t usually make 100 years. A black spruce does not become a venerable and ancient tree.
When people say that something is both an art and a science, it usually means they don't know the first thing about it. The Mystic Mainer believes that gardening is neither an art nor a science but a glorious, ongoing catastrophe, before which one can only stand in wonder and dismay. This week, we respond to real and imaginary reader questions on the mysteries of horticulture.
Dear Mystic Mainer: Why are there all these earwigs, and why do they look the way they do, which is unpleasant?
— Liz (remember me?) in Lincolnville
Here's the thing about Mainers. We live mostly in these small towns and villages and semi-rural enclaves, and in consequence we may be thought of as ... well, I don't know — insular, homogeneous, unselfconsciously retro, all-of-a-piece. The truth is, we're all jumbled up.
I love that television program where the two ex-stuntmen and their cluster of nerdy science geek assistants eagerly blow stuff up in the name of research.
Around here we call that “solid waste management.”
No, in all seriousness, I tip my hat to the “Mythbusters” team. They have the workshop that dreams are made of, walls filled with shelves covered with bins-full of parts and supplies and components and materials (starting to sound like our bedroom), and the bomb squad guys are always just a phone call away (hey, just like here!).
Near the start of the cheerfully mindless teen flick Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there's a scene where the eponymous hero, portrayed by Matthew Broderick, looks out at the sky. Cut to a perfect expanse of blue punctuated by a couple of lacy fair-weather clouds. Ferris (looking into camera): "How can I be expected to handle school on a day like this?"
I feel you, bro.
Despite the thick fog and the 58-degree temperature, I know it is summer because I am tripping over gallons of molasses and multiple 25-pound cartons of chocolate chips. I’m trying to figure out how to “put away” 1,300 pounds of flour in 50-pound bags, not to mention the 500 pounds of white and brown and powdered sugar. There is no way. It’ll all have to stay piled up in the middle of the floor.
You’ll have to forgive just a little bit of minor tech-talk for this story.