Recently somebody asked me how I came to live on Matinicus Island. Being neither a vacationer nor a lobsterman, I came to this remote community the third most common way.
Twenty-three years ago I answered a classified ad in the Bangor Daily News that simply read, “teacher wanted for one-room school.”
(…and refreshments will be served!)
This week, our favorite meterological, romantic and investment advisor answers made-up reader questions about pressing topics of the day.
Dear Mystic Mainer: Is it okay to gloat about the snowstorm hammering Washington, DC? My sister lives in the suburbs and hasn't been able to get out of her driveway all week. She and her husband have three children (my nephews, though you wouldn't know it from how little I see of them) and a lovely house. Part of me just wants to cackle.
-- Feeling Witchy in Waldoboro
I padded down the stairs from our unheated bedroom to the cast-irony banging noises of a wood stove wrestling, so it sounded, with an alligator. The kitchen was colder than usual. Normally when the temperature is expected to dip into the low twenties or below overnight, we build up a coal fire before going to bed. This unstylish fuel burns long and hot and keeps our place quite comfortable through the wee hours until the edge of daylight, when a heap of free spruce takes over the job of keeping my large kitchen warm.
"It would be insufferable," the philosopher John Locke declared in 1704, "for a professor to have a reverend beard overturned by an upstart novelist."
I don't know what prompted this outburst. But speaking as a onetime upstart novelist, and now a bearded professor of sorts, I applaud Locke's use of "reverend" and his clear equation of beard-wearing as a mark of wisdom and maturity.
The weather forecast, an islander’s constant companion, suggested the potential for a real mess. The same great rainstorm that had caused mudslides and evacuations in California had made its way east, and we were in for some big water. Maybe. One never knows. Nobody worries too much out here about the rain, or even about the snow, as a rule. It’s the wind that causes us to toss and turn in our bunks. A maritime community grows anxious when the wind blows hard, and for good reason. A power company lineman can say the same. Being used to it does not help.
Expectations were running high this week. One of the most riveting public speakers in memory, a man who has weathered personal setbacks over the past year but is nonetheless widely respected for his vision and idealism, was scheduled to take the stage before a highly selective audience — with the rest of the world looking on — and deliver a hotly anticipated speech. Skepticism was rife, but seasoned observers warned that one should never underestimate this man, who has proven himself to be resilient as well as charismatic.
We all think we’re going to paint our bathrooms just because it’s winter.
Maybe Matinicus needs a Sister City.
We’ve used this expression once in a while in a sort of meaningless way to mean other island towns, but maybe we ought to get ourselves a real, bona-fide sister city. There’s an organization called Sister Cities International that can help formalize this sort of thing. We ought to find out what’s involved. Maybe we could trade them some crabmeat for some elk steaks or pad thai or whatever.
Ah, the ides of January!