'Tis the season again — that wonderful time of year when we were meaning to catch up with all the friends around town whom, what with one thing and another, we hardly glimpsed all winter. (I use "winter" here in the traditional sense of Labor Day to Memorial Day.) Only now that the season is upon us, we have no time to see our friends, nor even our spouses, because we're expecting visitors from away.
It looks like I’ve got some assigned reading this summer.
With my own book about the simple and the complicated life of Matinicus due out in less than a month, I’ve had a few interesting comments regarding the other current books which tell the stories of the coast of Maine.
“Oh, is your book like That Lobster Book?”
“Is living there really like on Bennett’s Island?”
“You must know Linda Greenlaw.”
I’d better get busy.
I must have a thing about trees. For nineteen years now I've lived at various Maine addresses whose common feature has been the presence of large, overhanging trees that cast varying degrees of shade over the whole property. When I moved to this brand-new cottage a few years ago, there were woods all around but a big open spot in the middle, cleared by the builder to make room for the house. Naturally the first thing I did was plant a bunch of trees.
The school teacher left me a message last week something along the lines of: “Of course you know that Friday, June 4, is National Doughnut Day. If you should happen to be celebrating that particular holiday, count me in.”
That’s pretty typical of the sort of messages I get around here.
It's been a good time for reading, these past couple of weeks, chilly and wet, and I've met some remarkable Mainers that way, in the pages of books. Then, just yesterday, I was lucky enough to meet one of the subjects in person, when she stepped off the page into a cafe in Rockland, looking even more lovely and gracious than I'd expected.
If you should happen to walk the road to the west side of the island, and keep an eye toward the bushes before you get as far as the microwave telephone tower, you might see the zebra. It’s actually fairly difficult to miss.
If I'd lived in this town ten years longer, I could say I've known Andy O'Brien, our delegate to the Maine House of Representatives, since he was in diapers. But I can say truthfully that I've known him since my son Tristan, who's about to graduate from high school, was in diapers, because we hired Andy one night to babysit. Andy was about thirteen; we were friends with his family. We came home around midnight to discover Tristan sleeping face-down on the floor of the sleeping loft, and his diaper ...
Last Monday was a lovely day on Matinicus. I had finally rounded up some Kennebec seed potatoes to plant, which took some doing because everybody’s starting their gardens early this year and my usual sources were sold out. I was delighted with the news that on this fine spring day the garage guys in Rockland could meet my jeep on the mainland side when the ferry arrived later, meaning I would not have to ride in with it today. I determined to consider that a gift of precious “spare time” — a Matinicus ferry trip basically shoots the whole day.
The first thing I noticed about life in Maine — not about Maine itself, but about the experience of actually living here — was that nobody asked me, "So Richard, what do you do?"
We had just got done hiding from one glossy magazine’s freelance journalist when another called with plans to harass Matinicus. OK, everybody, back behind the bushes.