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Saturday, April 06, 2013

It's Portlandish



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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some, like myself, think "nothing" is worth preserving in a world where the "somethings" most of us create are so awful. Each year the population grows and expands, creeps and sprawls. I hope Maine is ready with all of it's "nothing" safely tucked away.

Gary said...

Sipp,

The good news is that I have promised myself that I will buy all my Amazon stuff through your site.

The bad news is I seem to have a memory problem (I can't quite call to mind the name for it) but my wife reminds me right before check out most times and I cancel and then go in through your site.

So please, keep hoping I hit the lottery (if I can ever remember to buy a ticket) because you'll get rich off all my Kindle books if I do.

Last year we saw a one day sale on plane tickets to Portland and snapped two up. We had found a nice cabin near Mt Hood and were researching hiking trails and the Columbia River before we realized that we had bought tickets to Maine!

Well, being sensible, we decided that we had always wanted to see the White Mountains and Acadia and had a nice trip. It isn't really where you go but who you travel with anyway. Since I was told I would be dead years ago (by experts), I am just glad to be anywhere, even Maine.

We drove through Rumford and I thought of you. If I was young and healthy, I would get out of Dodge and head someplace odd, like Maine (Heck, I like pine trees). You make it sound like people aren't quite right there but let's face it, to be 'normal' now means you have a societal death wish. All the best and brightest have managed to do is bring Western Civilization to its knees while putting individual freedom into a terminal coma.

Your children's generation will have reason to hate me and my contemporaries but since we won't be there to hear it, it is best if they just forget us and get to work trying to fix our mess.

Well, keep making furniture (and writing) and I'll keep trying to go to Amazon through you.

Good luck up there,
Gary

Sam L. said...

Well, I've been to Maine if'n you count Freeport and the LLBean store as Maine, which I 'spect ya don't. Passed thru Nu Hamsha on the way. That was 33 years ago; likley different now.

Ah well, or at least semi-healthy.

Anonymous said...

Man, that article hit me in the "10 ring" of my sense of humor(lessness). I love some blackened humor. You served it up fit for Baal.

My motto is: "Once burnt, twice burnt."

--Gray

Fred Z said...

I went to Maine once. From New Brunswick, at Houlton. Border guards seized my 222s and my allergy pills. Land of the free my arse.

However, it seems Maine country folk are nuts. I approve of that. Good on them.