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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grass and trash

The clarity of a fine November day is like no other. We get these blue and crystalline ones in the other seasons, usually after a big storm, but a spring beauty is all clouded with desires and the summer still has the haze of contentment if you look hard enough, especially at the ocean horizon, and the winter, well, a day like this in winter is so cold as to drive sanity away. In November there's just enough color left (green grass, red winterberries, a few obstinate yellow leaves) to keep you on your toes, but the rest of the leaves are down and the islands out in the bay don't look like they're floating or smoking and you can see well more than a yard into the woods. This is the proper balance: long cool vistas, warm grateful hearts.

You can also see trash in the ditches and the woods. This also seems fitting. The warts of life aren't always covered by luxurious vegetation, or sentimental make-up, and I for one am emboldened to take a plastic bag along on my walk. Results were as follows: 2 Twisted Tea bottles, 2 beer cans (1 Coors Light, 1 Bud Light), 2 large, fast-food paper cups marked Pepsi, complete with plastic tops and straws, an unmarked styrofoam cup and a large Burger King cup, contents unknown, a paper cup of Newman's Own Green Mountain Coffee from McDonald's, an empty pack of Marlboros, a Lay's potato chip bag, a Hot Streak Maine State Lottery ticket, a napkin, and a tattered American flag blown by the storm from the cemetery across the road. It's tempting to speculate about the populace producing such a style of discards; let it suffice to say that this too is bracing, that at least some of us take pleasure where we can without thinking about the consequences. Although a little conscience would be nice.

It's that extra view into the trees that I find most salutary. Less is hidden, the deer seem closer, a porcupine stands there dumb and fat and confident. That this magnificent stretch of weather encompasses Veterans Day is yet another bonus. Pain and suffering too are less hidden. Vets from several wars speak movingly to school children. Small Maine towns still hold parades and memorials. We're safe and alert and ready to face the winter if you are.

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