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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The tree-trimmers are in Owls Head again this week, I suppose in response to yet another day of very strong winds a week or so ago. Trees are freshly fallen, including on our yard where three spruce, growing very closely together as if they were friends and throwing up one large, common rootball, fell across the leaching field. Chainsaws ring out in the clear cold air. Chippers grind. It's as if the woods needs a trim every few weeks and puts in a call for travelling barbers.

It's a different crew from last month, I think. The equipment looks newer, and the license plates on the vehicles all say "Texas." This I don't understand. Not that there aren't already significant correspondences between Maine and Texas. The bluebonnet, for example, is closely related to the lupine, and there is a strong attraction for Maine's coast among Texas oilmen (Camden, for example, where every other person seems to be ex-CIA or from Houston, and par exellence Kennebunkport, where Bush I is both and Bush II isn't). I'm just not sure why Central Maine Power would be leasing, or buying, or employing men and machines from so far away. Maybe if something goes wrong, if the guys trim too exubertantly or fell someone's favorite pointed fir, CMP can claim (in that time-honored way of Democrats and Easterners) that it's all the fault of Texas.

It did get me to thinking about communication. I would have liked to find out about these men, sit around the barbershop as it were and trade biographies and politics and jibes, but I confess that guys with chainsaws and chippers are just a little out of my league. This should not be. They are undoubtedly perfectly fine people. When I drove down the lane and found a truck blocking my way, I waited a few minutes, then nervously beeped the horn. Immediately they moved the truck and returned my smiles and waves when I drove past. Even though I use machines every day, slightly less intimidating machines to be sure, those that destroy things make me upset. Ergo, their operators do too.

Thoreau thought so, about a new machine of his day. “We are in great haste,” he said in his Journal, “to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.” I may have to admit that for once the great man might have been wrong. There's much to talk about, like the beauty of a December day on the coast, like the loneliness of American business life, like the fact that we East Coast liberals won't give up our destructive, petroleum-powered cars.

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