A woman from Jefferson and her tiny baby met a mother gorilla and her five-week-old baby at a zoo in Boston two weekends ago, and spent considerable time together, according to the all-knowing interweb-thing.

Naturally, the whole encounter was caught on cellphone video, and pretty quickly made its way into the universe of deliciously soft news that helps populate so many anxious websites these days.

The mother human, age not supplied, from Jefferson is named as Emmily Austin, (with a double-em for the benefit of all you copy editors who constantly try to smooth out all the interesting bumps and dips in the written language) and her baby boy is called Canyon.

The mother gorilla, 39, who lives in Franklin Park Zoo and whose family hails from Africa, is named as Kiki, and her little gorillette is called Pablo. He was born in October, and is about a million times more active than Canyon.

There is nothing quite like a baby-animal story for soothing the fevered brow of a troubled world, as all good journalists are aware. The story online, which was written by the androgynously-named Dawson White, ends with a suitable and touching thought from the human mother:

“We walked out and I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “I just kept saying I am so happy to share this with Canyon some day when he’s old enough to understand what happened.”

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While thinking about this story on the way home after work, heading to the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street where I am forced to live, I had an odd idea.

What if this were a fictional tale? What if it ended on New Year’s Eve 2099, and the boy, now grown old, comes across the video of his encounter with the ape mother and her child, finding the cellphone in a box stuffed in his attic, and watches it again?

What if he were to reflect, with an overwhelming sense of regret, that there are no longer any gorillas left in the world?

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Speaking of the cruelty of copy editors, I see the gnomes at the Courier forgot to print the answers to the crossword and Sudoku puzzle in last week’s edition.

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They’ve done this before, you know.

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I heard word last week that American Cruise Lines is inquiring about possibly sending some of their 100-passenger ships to Rockland again this summer. Plans have already been announced for Bar Harbor.

These are not the vast cruise liners that caused such a kerfuffle in the Lime City a couple of years ago.

Thinking back on those times, I remember how powerful the feelings were of people on either side of the cruise ship question.

On the one hand, a large part of the business community in town was much in favor of the extra trade these enormous ships delivered to their doorsteps. On the other hand, there was quite some opposition, too.

Roughly speaking, the opposition was divided into at least two camps. The one camp felt that tourists were in danger of swamping the town and making it uncomfortable for locals. I think of these folks as the No Bar Harbor Here type, anxious to avoid continuous summertime gridlock in the way that Bar Harbor is said to experience it.

The other camp in opposition was more of the Capitalism and its Crimes type, who focused on the potential environmental consequences of parking floating cities in our harbor several times each summer.

Last year, of course, natural events intervened in this vexing cultural standoff. As the Great Poe says in his deeply gothic story of “The Masque of the Red Death”:

“And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

Well, I suppose the coronavirus has not yet been quite that bad. But it certainly prevented just about every kind of mass assembly of people (including cruise ships and gorillas) taking place in Rockland last summer.

But if you sniff the air at the right time of day, you can still detect the fumes of this classic conflict floating around.

Unless I am totally in error, there are some relative newcomers to our city, along with a sprinkling of oldsters, who in some deep part of their souls quietly blame Rockland for letting the city get into such a mess in the 1970s and 1980s, especially over the matter of the Great Stink of Rockland that used to pervade the air on a regular basis.

At the time, the stink of rotting fish residue was described at city council meetings as the smell of money, a descriptive method that dared people to object to the daily infestation of our air.

Those who objected then, and who object now to the fumes from cruise ship engines, and to the potential discharge of their septic tanks, constitute what is today known as an environmental lobby. They see it as their duty to lie down in the streets in front of these maritime juggernauts for the sake of the air we breathe, and are not willing to compromise on the question.

Nobody in the city’s business community has once been heard to suggest that they would welcome septic discharges in our harbor, or the choking of our streets by masses of humanity, in order to welcome the Almighty Dollar into Rockland. Yet, they are tacitly accused of it by at least one part of the opposition, and I think they are accused unfairly.

After all, many Rockland business owners live in Rockland, too.

Yet I do understand the tension that exists between the two parties. Somewhere at city hall there lies, wrapped in bandages and entombed in dust, a municipal plan for the of the harbor (written with some $30,000 of public money) that contains certain recommendations about handling the question of cruise ships in Rockland.

Lord only knows whether city council has acted on these recommendations, or whether they are currently assuming the ostrich position on the matter. But, like the Civil War (he said, exaggerating quite a lot), it has to be settled one way or the other, some day soon. No avoiding it.

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I forgot how Poe’s story (see above) describes the silencing of the great ebony clock in Prospero’s palace by the Red Death.

Perhaps ‘twas our own Modern Plague that just recently stilled the South End clock’s hands, and stopped up the mouth of time?

At least it’s fixed at the moment. We hope it got its shots.

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