The plastic dead are among us
A neighbor has drawn my attention to a pumpkin in the South End that is growing in a lilac tree.
It is the product of a pumpkin vine which went astray somewhere in late summer, which instead of creeping naturally along the ground found its way up and up into the lilac. There the blessed fruit began to grow, and it is now the size of a small soccer ball, still green and unlikely to turn true orange while it remains hidden from sunlight within the depths of its leafy host.
Here is the conundrum. Do we leave it there to grow on the vine, where it will thrive until gravity overcomes it but where it will not turn orange? Or do we detach it and put it in the sun where it will probably turn color but not grow? Or do we attempt to interfere like maniacs with nature by disentangling the whole thing and putting the fruit and its vine back on terra firma, risking the whole enterprise?
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Sitting up here atop the west tower overlooking South Street, basking in the glorious afternoon sunshine of the last South End summer Sunday of the year, the whole neighborhood is spread out below me. Hard to imagine a time when it did not look and feel so absolutely marvelous.
And yet I met someone this week who lives in the region of the old Fuller Market who told me things were not always so. When she was a little girl, her parents promised that if ever they found she had been to the South End she would be grounded for life.
Even when I settled upon the Lime City only a couple of decades ago, there was still a lingering memory of the Wicked Old South End. It was a place where one slept with a loaded pistol under one’s pillow, I was told. I never met anyone who actually claims to have slept with a gun, but I think a point of some sort was being made.
The Merriam boys have shared a few tales of the WOSE, especially Kenny who wrote a book of poetry about growing up on Mechanic Street. One poem describes a time when the boys of the South End were prepared to go to war with the boys of the North End, using BB guns to defend their universe.
In those days Mechanic Street was shorefront properly for quite a way up from the shipyard toward what we pretend is called South Main Street. This was before the place was filled in and the park was built, when it was still a tidal mudflat or something. In the middle of it until some time in the 60s was a large wooden coal barge, abandoned and fixed in the mud. I have been told there were several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the barge, including the use of explosives, before it was finally done.
The place which we now call Snow Marine Park was a community development project of the 1970s, I think. Correct me on any details, please.
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A friend on Ingrahams Hill has a pasta recipe that specifically calls for only mediocre ingredients. She once tried using premium quality stuff, and it just did not work out.
Stories like this remind us that our idea of perfection is far from perfect, and I think such a principle has political or even cultural implications that you are welcome to explore for yourself.
To be honest, I am not overly fond of political talk at all. In fact I twice abandoned my subscription to the New Yorker because of this, and the abandonments coincided with two separate presidential elections in the '90s. I feel that far too much is said and printed that only has relevance to a brief passing moment in time, and far too little of it carries any weight in the long run.
There is often too much chatter and not enough thought; too much concern over the arrangement of chairs on the ship’s deck at a given moment, and too little attention paid to the fact that the engine room is filled with smoke or that the charts in use have not been updated since the Civil War.
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I received a letter from a reader called Fred about last week’s column, but it was apparently written in Danish, which I do not understand. Danish is like Dutch, in that it looks somewhat like English, but all the important letters are in the wrong places.
My only possible reaction to this letter was to reply in Welsh, or at least the schoolboy Welsh that is all I can remember from days long gone by.
Welsh does not look like English at all. For example, the Welsh word for “librarianship” has 13 letters, yet not a single one of them is what an English speaker would accuse of being a vowel. Welsh is all that is left of the language the British spoke before the Romans showed up.
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The oil trucks and propane trucks are now regularly cruising our streets, filling up tanks for the coming winter. I really have to think about winter up here on the south tower. How will I deal with that? I must put off any decisions until it is far too late.
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Eating breakfast at the Keag on Sunday morning, we watched two lobster boats deliver a shipment of sheep at the town landing. Each beast was manhandled (possibly also womanhandled) off the boat and into a beast truck that drove them off toward Spruce Head.
You never knew they fished for sheep, did you? You thought it was all lobster all the time, silly baby. I suspect it’s something to do with the poor lobster harvest this summer, and they have branched out.
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Late in August I was at Shop ‘N Save (some call it Hannaford but that’s not how I learned it) picking up such necessities as attracted my attention when I saw B sweeping stuff off the shelves in the seasonal aisle. He was making room for a delivery of Halloween goodies expected the next day.
Lately, visiting other stores, I have reflected upon that fact that the plastic dead are among us again, and likely to remain until the start of November.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at email@example.com, but not in Danish.