A sort of living death on the Internet

By David Grima | Feb 15, 2013

I spoke to gentleman from Camden last Thursday afternoon, who said the lack of pain from his rheumatism (usually a quite reliable predictor of the weather) suggested it would probably not snow on Friday and Saturday.

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There was a lot of chatter, Sunday morning, about how long it has been since it snowed like that. Many dates were proposed. The trouble, I think, is in defining exactly how much and how seriously it did snow.

Gazing from my vantage point in the east grain tower at some point before dusk on Saturday, I could see places in the South End which were so windblown that almost no snow was able to settle at all. Meanwhile, only a step away were drifts of 40 feet or more.

The South End tomato lady’s house was walled in by plowed banks about 300 feet tall. What effect this will have had on her nerve remains to be seen. If there are no tomatoes this summer, just remember this weekend and its terrors.

On Linden Street some plow operators took pity on the people in the house where the dog that looks like a barrel lives, because they came by Saturday night and removed a 150-foot high plug of snow from his driveway that they themselves had put there only half a day earlier.

Fabulous Bob, reporting in Sunday morning from a distant mythological town known by some as Owls Head, said his quarter-mile-long driveway was perfectly clear except for a 200-foot drift right in the middle of it.

A bucket loader had been ordered but had not yet arrived, he said, and things were getting a bit grim behind the mighty snowdrift. He had run out of half-and-half for his coffee, putting him (and therefore his family) in a most desperate condition. I suggested a Coast Guard air lift of these vital supplies might be the answer, but it turned out that all their helicopters were out just trying to see if coastal Maine was still there any more.

For the first time I know of, Sunday services were canceled at St. Bildad’s by the Sea. Together with the closure of my two favorite places for obtaining books on a Saturday morning, namely the dump and the library, I think of that as some kind of defeat. It certainly left me a bit dislocated, with neither the reading material nor the spiritual sustenance necessary to get me through the storm.

And so on, and so; story after story, and tale of woe after tale of woe. I am told by a neighbor who has lived in Rockland since 1856, and who has never left Mechanic Street in all her life, (at least not yet) that there was once a blizzard in which the heaps of snow reached the tops of the grain towers where I now live.

I don’t believe a word of it.

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I mentioned a week or two ago that a black bear who should have been in hibernation had been seen wandering around Westbrook Street beyond the ‘Keag. The other day the radio produced a news story suggesting that the natural lives of animals are being interrupted by the changes in our weather.

Bears, we were told, are now being seen in midwinter as they visit bird-feeders for a snack. They are out and about because, on the whole, the weather is now no longer awful enough to keep them in proper hibernation. I guess it’s basically a case of bears waking up with the midwinter munchies.

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A friend was talking about a visit she made many years ago to Latin America, and about her lack of proficiency in the Spanish spoken in a certain country. It all came out when she was talking to her hosts about the pope and called him La Papa.

Twenty minutes later when everybody had got up off the floor, they gently explained to her that the correct way to talk about the pope is to say El Papa. The difference, they said, is that La Papa means the potato.

Is it polite to have a language in which the pope can so easily be mistaken for a potato? It makes one lazily imagine of a world where the Archbishop of Canterbury might be a carrot, and the head of the Mormon Church a cauliflower.

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I am told that a painful thing is happening to my dear friend Awful O’Meara of the Bangor Dreadful News. It seems his weekly ramblings will no longer appear in print, but will instead be projected by semi-magical instruments into something vaguely known as the blogosphere.

It must be an unsettling thing for a newspaperman to be removed from a newspaper. I, too, endured a similar sort of banishment for a while. In fact I still feel rather like a ghost in the Courier some days, some leftover relic from a time when the mayor of Rockland was actually decades older than me instead of the other way around.

The great O’Meara’s untimely banishment reminds me of how Maine Public Radio removed Toby LeBoutilier from the airwaves last year, and consigned him to a sort of living death on the Internet. Now O’Meara, too. It used to be thought wrong to treat the elderly this way, but this is a brave new world we live in.

I do realize that the blogosphere is the up-and-coming place for the younger generation to post their unedited opinions and fantasies, a place where fact and fiction merge so seamlessly that truth is often as distant as the Hills of Heaven. But the last time anyone implied the concept of “younger” in connection with poor O’Meara was when they said he is not quite as old as dirt.

Could they not leave him alone in his real and tangible newspaper for five more minutes? Poor fellow. I am considering making an appeal on his behalf to the Great Potato.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com, or among the carrots.

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