All I needed to say was that I had not heard any spring peepers, and all of a sudden they were out. I think it was April 4 I heard them, starting at the old Grange hall in Owls Head and all the way up to the old quarry at Ash Point.

It is true that I needed a passport to get into Owls Head, where the local occupation is trying to keep people off the particular street you happen to live on, or the piece of beach you believe is yours. But once I had got through customs and immigration it was fairly easy to follow the sound of the little peep-peep frogs.

* * * * *

The appearance of my car has reached an alarming level, due to the fact there is some sort of leak in the cooling system. It drives around town with a thin stream of vaporized coolant pouring from ‘neath the right side of the hood, although it’s not much of a sight until it stops at a light. Then the thin stream of vapor become a billowing cloud, and people in normal cars stare at me, and people walking by stare at me.

What they all want to tell me is that, from their point of view, my car seems to be on fire. It really is not. What is coming out from under the hood is the opposite of fire. Now the night-time temperatures have stopped dropping so low I am taking the risk of replacing the vaporized coolant with mere tap water, and I carry a jug of it around with me while driving in case the machine leaks too much to get me back home to the concrete towers on Mechanic Street. So it is not smoke, it is steam. But it looks theatrical.

The other Saturday I pulled in to the parking lot at the South End Market, and two men who were standing outside smoking just stared at me as I struggled to get out of the vehicle and walk inside. No doubt from their perspective I was silhouetted against a large cloud billowing from the engine compartment, and it probably looked pretty dramatic.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” I told them casually as a went in. They nodded and carried on smoking.

* * * * *

By the way, to state the obvious, if I could afford the fix it, or better still if I could afford a buy a car that is less old, then of course I would. But in this situation I am not different from many other people who call the Lime City their home.

It is easier to get to the stores and to the public library when they are within reasonable coolant evaporation range, and easier to get back before the car explodes, than if I lived in the Independent Republic of St. George or even the mythical condition of Union.

Many years ago I lived for a winter in the tropical paradise of Cushing and what I found out from that experience is that people do not actually live in a place like that so much as they simply drive to it and away from it. For people like me, it is easier to live in a place like the Lime City, at least from the point of view of transportation.

When it comes to roads and property taxes, of course, Rockland does have its drawbacks and places like Cushing do not seem so bad. Besides a jug of water for my engine, I also carry as a basic necessity a set of stepladders when I go out driving. This is for when my car plunges into yet another public pothole in the road, and I have to find my own way out to get the car rescued. It is much easier to get out when you have a ladder.

Trying to attract the attention of passersby when you are in a pothole is a futile exercise. People simply pass by on the other side, a bit like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan. To be fair, I guess mostly they are just suffering from Rockland pothole victim compassion burnout, they way they say people get tired of helping out panhandlers in New York.

In the days before I was carrying the ladder, I spent quite a lot of time at the bottom of various potholes being ignored by passersby, waiting to be rescued, and hoping some other driver did not simply follow me in and bury me. While in these potholes I attempted to investigate what sort of stuff you might find down there. You know what I mean; dinosaur bones, pirate gold, lobsters spying on us, that sort of thing. I was thinking perhaps I could turn my brief misfortune into a learning experience.

It was a complete waste of time. There is nothing interesting to be seen in a pothole and nothing to be learned, other than patience I suppose.

* * * * *

(This next bit was written early on Monday.)

The other night I saw a movie called “Killing Them Softly” in which Brad Pitt plays a Boston thug assigned to have several people killed. He tries hiring a professional assassin played by James Gandolfini (aka Tony Soprano — not a hint of type-casting here, boys and girls!) But Tony is too depressed to take the contract, so Pitt goes out and does the killings himself.

The film is set in the fall 2008, radio news broadcasts of the Great Economic Collapse being linked with the gangsters’ business that is also falling into the doldrums. In the final scene Pitt and the gangsters’ accountant, who is there to pay him off for the various murders, meet in a bar. On the TV is Barack Obama making his victory speech.

Pitt goes to the men’s room to count his money, and comes back saying he is several thousand dollars short. He is angry, pointing to Obama on the TV, and says he hopes that guy does not start talking about how America is a community. I attempt now to recreate the final speech of the film, spoken by Pitt in the closing seconds:

“Thomas Jefferson, he knew what America is. He didn’t even try to stop his own kids being raised as slaves. The revolution was about rich white guys who wanted to be able to make even more money. They threw together some fancy words about liberty and got poor bums like me to go out and do the dying for them, while they lived in their houses and drank their wine.” (Pointing at the president) “And I don’t want to hear that guy telling me America is a community. America is not a community. America is a business, and I want to be paid.”

Until that moment, I had no idea Brad Pitt could act.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at or by checking your nearest pothole.