Just follow them inside
Saturday morning at the dump I stood mesmerized by the vision of a piece of machinery chewing up all our Christmas trees. It was hypnotic.
I have no idea how many Christmas trees are bought in Rockland each year, but I am not going to let that stop me making a guess. There are about 7,000 of us in town, and without a scrap of evidence on my side I will estimate that each tree is intended to light up the hearts and souls of at least four people. However not everybody does Christmas or has a tree. Some are bitter at Christmastime and will have nothing to do with it. Some have religions that do not demand the annual sacrifice of a perfectly decent tree. At least one neighbor here in the South End appears to have a Christmas tree lit on their porch all year long, and I suppose it is not a real tree at all.
If there are 6,000 people who do Christmas trees, and if each tree serves four people, this would mean 1,500 Christmas trees each year. But I have cited evidence that some use artificial trees, which reminds me of a neighbor who kept his fake tree decorated all year long in his barn, and just dragged it into the house and plugged it in during the holiday. So maybe we consume 1,000 bona fide wooden Christmas trees in Rockland ever year. What becomes of these domestic spires after the holiday is mercifully over?
I have a friend who tells me she once drove into Owls Head under cover of dark, around 1 a.m., so she could secretly abandon her tree in a dark and rural ditch. Another year, also in the wee hours, she dragged her tree through the streets of the South End on foot and stuffed it into a snowdrift near Fred Newcomb’s office at the bottom of Holmes Street. All the time she hoped to avoid being seen, although to this day she is certain that her foul deed was observed by somebody in a parked car. Probably just her conscience.
Quite obviously, many far more responsible citizens take their used trees to the dump, where I was able to watch several dozen being fed into the grinder the other day. Trees, I mean, not citizens. I don’t think Rockland has yet fallen so low as to grind up its people literally. So far this is done only figuratively.
* * * * *
Speaking of Holmes Street, I would like to nominate it as about the worst piece of roadway in the city. Granted that lumps of hard top have been flaking off almost all our streets lately, nevertheless Holmes Street is far worse than most. I have no idea if the people there have done something to upset the authorities, or whether it is mere coincidence.
* * * * *
I have a friend (just the one) who used to moonlight as a wedding photographer. The other day he told me he is thinking of becoming a divorce photographer, as this is clearly where the trend is heading. Just what a divorce photo would look like, I do not know.
* * * * *
I thank all the people who inquire after my health, and ask me how things are going up here on top of the east tower at the foot of Mechanic Street. Yes it is very cold, and often damp. When it freezes I cannot open the trap doors in the roof to get at my books, and when it thaws a little I see that my book are beginning to rot. So entertainment is a bit hard to come by. But no doubt I will endure, and there are a few signs that time is moving on.
For example, it has been about 14 weeks since I heard geese flying south for the winter, and about 28 weeks since I saw fireflies darting about on a lawn at Ingrahams Hill. It was the first evening of summer. These coordinates of 14 and 28 in the matrix of time signify the fact that any day now Dreadful O’Meara of the Bangor News once more will drive south to bother all his friends in Florida. We will be free of him until April, when he will return just in time for the last real ripsnorter of a snowstorm.
Already his victims, the people he intends to visit in the Sunshine State, are anxiously boarding up their windows, draining their pool, pulling down their chimneys, drawing cracks in the porch glass, letting their lawn grow wild, setting Halloween skeletons draped in torn clothes into broke-back lawn chairs, shaving their cats to make them look abandoned and skinny, and daubing mold-colored paint over their house in a vain effort to make it look like they have left and gone away, hoping against hope that he will see the devastation and just keep driving.
It won’t do them any good. He will just move into a neighbors’ garage and sit there for days on end with a case of Milwaukee’s Best on the ground beside him and just do what he does best — nothing at all — until his friends are forced to make a break for the nearest supermarket, and when they get back home he will just follow them inside.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.