Saturday, April 06, 2013
That's Portland. Portland, Maine that is. Portland isn't the capitol of Maine. Ogguster is. Portland is the largest city, though. About 65,000 people, I think, but I refuse to look it up. You can walk all over Portland in a day. There's a nebulous "Greater Portland" that has half a million people in it. That's a third of the state living in one place. Portland looks fairly coherent, as cities go, because the whole place burned down a couple times, and they replaced all the buildings at the same time with brick replacements.
I'm surprised Mainers haven't discovered how to set the bricks on fire. Yet. Everything burns to the ground in Maine, and burns again while the ashes are still warm, too. People here seem to be capable of setting anything afire, except firewood. They can't figure out how trees are operated, I think. Everyone buys a Bean coat and a woodstove and attempts to light it with gasoline or kerosene or lighter fluid or oily rags or dead cats soaked in acetone or whatever they have handy. There are 1.3 million people in Maine, and they have 1.4 million strategies for cutting, splitting, stacking, drying, and burning wood. Every one of these strategies is ill-advised or counter-productive, except for the patently insane ones.
After you've set everything you own except your firewood on fire, including yourself, generally, the fire department comes and mills around in your yard admiring your newfangled approach to burning your joint down, if you've got one, or perhaps remarking that the old ways are best if you've burned the place down in some mundane fashion. Then they sprinkle the smoking cellar hole with enough water to baptize an underweight baby, while regaling the local newspaper reporter with rundowns of how many dogs or goldfish or iguanas they rescued from the building before it got going good.
Maine's huge, at least in New England terms. It's about the same size as Ireland. Ireland's essentially empty, and it has four times the population Maine does, so Maine is beyond empty. Maine is larger than all the other New England States combined. Everyone here is worried that we're going to run out of trees sometime soon. They keep buying tracts of nothing and preserving them. It's not possible to preserve anything for someone, because there are precious few someones here, so they preserve them from something. Mainers are always on the lookout for something that might happen. You wouldn't want that.
A pine tree's a form of crabgrass here, but they pay that no mind. If the potato farmers up north in Aroostook lose interest, and the pine cones get busy, you're going to need nuclear weapons to drive to Canada. I don't think they allow you to cross the border into Canada if you have nuclear weapons in your Kia anymore, so be sure to use them all on the forest. You can get back into the US with any old thing, so load up in Montreal for the trip back.
I live as far west from Portland as you can get without ending up in New Hampshire. We call Cumberland County, where Portland is, "Northern Massachusetts." It doesn't look much like Maine to my eye. I know all about Portland, though, because my wife grew up near there. I've been there many times over the years.
I do believe I could manage being the town drunk in Portland. It's bigger than a job for a hobbyist, but not so big a job you'd need to hire help if you were a pro.