On the other side

By David Grima | Jul 18, 2014

Rockland Public Library was struck by an earth tremor last Sunday afternoon, or so it seemed. It turned out that a gentleman had fallen into a deep slumber in a comfortable chair in the reading room beside the fireplace, and had begun to snore. At first it was as a gentle breeze, but soon it became a Mighty Wind, and books and periodicals began to tremble on their shelves. National Geographic magazines began to lose their color, and several Internet connections were lost or became intermittent. Civilization itself began to falter, and so a librarian intervened in the name of humanity and woke him up.

* * * * *

I am glad the city finally painted out the white lines in the middle of Limerock Street next to the bank, for they were beginning to give me a headache. The problem was that the lines, meant to divide the left-hand turning land from the straight-on lane, did not correspond in any way with the center line along the rest of the street. One could be driving faithfully in the left-hand lane outside the post office and, without turning the wheel the slightest bit, suddenly find yourself on the other side. Most disturbing. Almost as bad as somebody snoring in the library.

* * * * *

Without being exactly certain, I feel I have probably detected an attempt to invade the concrete towers where I am forced to live at the foot of Mechanic Street. The other month I saw that a sort of emergency ladder was hanging from one of the Great Apertures in the eight-sided square tower. It is still there, with its lower end all tangled up in one of the small weed trees that surround the structure. It looks for all the world as though somebody was trying to break in and possibly disturb my peace up here on the top floor.

Why anybody would want to bother doing that I cannot say. Almost certainly they would be torn to shreds, limb from limb, etc., by the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse within moments of setting foot on the battlements. But perhaps they have heard rumors of a great pirate treasure buried within the towers, the very same rumors I made up for my own selfish amusement a while ago. Perhaps they forgot that when I made up this tale I included a ghost which guards the treasure, and perhaps it is the ghost that got them. This might explain why a) the ladder is still dangling there, and b) why I now sometimes hear strange low moaning noises at night floating up from the dungeons in the south tower, even though the only door there has been walled up for at least three months. For the love of God, my treasure, how very “infortunato” it would be to find oneself on the other side of that wall.

Mess not with the Towers, dear friends. There are more things lying in wait for you there than are dreamed of in your philosophy.

* * * * *

The Farnsworth Museum people have gone completely crazy with summer heat, and have splurged on some almost-luminous green paint to give a little sparkle to the building’s Main Street face. I suppose with a little imagination you could get away with calling it a sort of lime-green shade of paint, which has the virtue of being in keeping with the Rockland’s unofficial name of the Lime City.

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I am not one of those people who object to tourists, and in fact I am normally quite pleased to see them. After all, they bring to our fair city each summer the fat we will need if we are to survive yet another lean winter here. So when I say I am often amused by them, do not think this is any kind of insult. It is statement mixed with quite a bit of affection. Take, for instance, the tourist lady whose attempts to back a boat trailer down to the water at the ‘Keag last weekend were very entertaining indeed.

All in all I should guess it took about a half hour before the trailer was down to the water, and this involved the intervention of two other people who offered to help her out. Try as she might, she could not get her little station wagon and the trailer to back up in the same direction at the same time. I know this is a hard thing to do, as I have also failed to do it. But at least I did not try it in full view of people having breakfast with plenty of time to stare.

It would have been easy enough for her to unhitch the trailer and wheel it down to the water by hand, then bring the car down and hook them up again. Instead she just sat there for many minutes, probably silently weeping into her cellphone. A gentleman got up from his breakfast and crossed to the other side of the road to help her. He lifted up the end of the trailer and lined it up with the car. But then the poor driver messed it up by turning her wheels and getting the whole thing out of alignment again. In the end another fellow, tourist or not I cannot say, talked her into getting out of the car and letting him back it down to the water.

I tell you, over the years we’ve learned a lot about humans by watching life happen to them though the big picture windows of the ‘Keag store while having breakfast.

* * * * *

In a few days my friend from Elm Street will leave town and fly off to Bangalore, India, which is on the other side of the world. I doubt I will never see him again. It is as though he will be walled up for ever. Vaya con Dios, amigo. The Seagulls, the Snowy Owls, the rest of us all will miss you rather a lot.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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