Rockland summer

By David Grima | Aug 08, 2019

Further gun-slaughter across America is not the only thing we need to be worried about, even though it does rate a label as top-worry material.

Being only a local newspaper, it would be a dereliction of duty if we were to be moved off-course by such matters, terrible as they are. Here at home, where our modest duty lies, we are merely being urged to be on the lookout for a plague of jellyfish at Birch Point State Park in Owls Head (which unaccountably is often known to locals as Lucia Beach, despite Lucia Beach's actually being somewhere completely different.)

Here is a report I received July 31, from a fairly reliable local correspondent.

“Remember how last summer I asked if you had heard of a lion’s mane jellyfish appearance in Owls Head?  At one point you suggested I check sources of my news feed for accuracy sake, to rule out fake news?

“Well today I decided to take a beach day at Birch Point by myself. At noontime or so, the tide was going out. Just as I was about ready to dip, I heard someone in the distance mention jellyfish. Then I went over to ask if that is what I heard and was told that yes, in fact they had seen ‘hundreds’ in the water and several were pointed out on sand where I had just walked toward the water. They were about 5 to 8 inches in diameter and plentiful within sight.

“Not knowing if they were poisonous, I refrained from going in the water and went back to my blanket.

“Then I saw a couple of young women with a wandering child in the vicinity of where I had seen many.

“I asked the young mother if she was aware of the presence of the jellies ... they acknowledged having seen them, but not to worry as they are not poisonous, then she asked if I had seen the lion’s mane beyond us. It was about 18 inches in diameter and varying shades from deep red to pink with little fibrous hair-like extensions maybe 4 inches from its perimeter. That one is poisonous, whereas the clear ones are not, she opined with a seemingly firm grasp of what she was talking about.

“Unfortunately my cellphone had overheated, so I was unable to take a photo to back up my story."

* * * * *

The lion’s mane is a giant jellyfish that is featured in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories in which it brings terror and suffering to a small section of the English coast. It is described thus by our friend, Mr. W. Pedia:

“The lion's mane jellyfish, also known as the giant jellyfish or the hair jelly, is the largest known species of jellyfish. Its range is confined to cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans … The largest recorded specimen, found washed up on the shore of Massachusetts Bay in 1870, had a bell with a diameter of 7 feet, 6 inches and tentacles 120 feet long..

“The lion's mane jellyfish uses its stinging tentacles to capture, pull in and eat prey such as fish, sea creatures and smaller jellyfish.”

* * * * *

Those jellyfish sound to me as though they were dead.

* * * * *

The swap shop at the city dump has been the beneficiary of an unusually large donation of cookbooks recently. Over a period of three weekends in July, I estimate about 150 or more were left there, most dating from the 1960s and 1970s, I would guess.

* * * * *

Speaking of the terrible national news as referred to above, by coincidence I found myself plunged into some profound thinking a week ago on the following question.

Would the Americans who founded this country all those years ago be content with the way things have turned out, or would they be dismayed, or even worse? Would 21st-century America validate the hopes and dreams they had for their new country, or would they wish they had never been born?

It is probably just as well that we cannot ask them, for I have a suspicion that they would be very upset at some of our modern developments – extending the vote to women, black people and Native Americans, for example. This was not on their agenda. But that’s a predictable response. I would be more curious about their reaction to what I will politely refer to as other things.

Assuming they could even understand the notion of having instantaneous communications from Sea to Shining Sea, what would they think of the modern stink that arises from certain rotten portions of the internet and the more vile regions of Facebook?

And, hey, how about those mass shootings?

* * * * *

The question on everyone’s lips in England about their new prime minister, Boris Johnson: Is Boris Badenuff? Why isn’t his live-in girlfriend called Natasha?

* * * * *

Speaking of cartoonish characters such as the British PM, what are we to make of the inflatable hockey player currently on the roof at the back of Camden National Bank in Rockland?

* * * * *

Terrible O’Meara held his annual not-the-Lobster-Festival party last Saturday afternoon, and attracted a record number of former Courier Publications employees, all of whom have either escaped to greener pastures, or were put out to grass before the full measure of usefulness had been fully wrung out of us.

Present in no particular order were John Hammer, Natalie Slefinger, Helen “Chickie” Barnes, Sandra Haimla, Elaine Holland, Michael McGuire, Bob Besaw, Tom Groening, Wayne and Beverly Nelson, Anna Hoyt, Steve Heddericg, O’Meara himself, who worked for us a while after retiring from the fleshpots of the Bangor paper, and your truly.

Many stories of old were swapped, including one from long ago that verifiably involved certain now-absent members of the Knox County press corps, a female entertainer of scant attire, a Rockland City Council meeting, and a dishonorable mention in the Columbia Journalism Review.

* * * * *

The heat of July almost drove me from the cardboard box at the top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live. Now they tell us it was the hottest month ever recorded in human history.

And the informal word is that the lobsters have not yet come anywhere as near shore as they ought to have by now, due to the water temperature. Possibly, this is also why dead jellyfish were washed up at what is not really Lucia Beach? These speculations are unconfirmed, he said journalistically.

Maybe in the near future the Lobster Festival will have to be converted into something else, if the lobsters do finally move out on us. We’ll need some other big fat event to hang the Rockland summer on.

Sharks seem to be thriving in New England waters these days, so how about the Maine Great White Festival? On the Saturday night of the festival, thousands will gather at the Fishermen’s Memorial Pier to watch a screening of “Jaws.” Or even “Sharknado.”

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Eric Thurston | Aug 17, 2019 16:15

My RDHS Class of '65 peers have always called the beach at Birch Point State Park - Lucia Beach. I still do. I also vaguely remember the words to a song set to the tune of Ringo by Lorne Greene. "He lies face down in the Lucia Beach sand, clutching a six-pack in his hand." Does anyone else remember this? (Also, Birch Point in Owls Head should not be confused with Birch Point about 1.25 miles due west, on the 'Keag River in South Thomaston.)

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 08, 2019 15:18

Sounds like good movie watching to me, Jaws in particular. Sunny and calm here in AZ and no salt water or sharks around, thankfully.  Cheers!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever

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