Sometimes we don’t need to know everything

By David Grima | Jul 18, 2019

The vast Cloud of Unknowing, reported to be an airborne mass of cement powder leaking from a ruptured delivery pipe at the Dragon wharf in the South End, briefly enveloped parts of the harbor July 5, while I was out of town.

However, when I read about it in last week’s paper, the story helped explain a strange phenomenon observed in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

For when I returned home that evening, the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse were in a shambles. A complete mess. They were covered from tail to beak in the grey powder, and were not very happy. Unaware that they were coated in escaped cement powder, I thought it would help them to have a nice saltwater bath, so I threw them in the harbor where, due to mysterious properties, the cement set and the silly birds sank like stones.

I will not attempt to describe my rescue efforts upon discovering the true nature of their coating, but I was able to get them ashore eventually. The upshot is that, if they were reluctant to trust themselves to my tender care before this unfortunate little incident, they are now 10 times less likely to.

* * * * *

For reasons not clear to me, the Guardian newspaper in the UK published an extensive feature on the Maine State Prison showroom in Thomaston, July 9.

Possibly it was like those travel stories the New York Times likes to print in summertime, urging people to leave the Big Apple and go native in the American provinces.

For example, the Times did a piece on Camden and Rockport the other day, in a rather suspicious manner. At least, it made me wonder if the writer had actually bothered to show up.

Among other things, it described a store in Rockport Village that, according to my helpful friend Mr. Google, closed nine years ago. If there is more to this tale than I have noticed, I will put it down to not really caring much either way.

* * * * *

The other Monday I went undercover as a tourist and visited the summit of Mount Battie, said to be a mountaintop in Camden Hills State Park.

As we arrived, we were followed up the road by a large tourist-laden bus from New Jersey. As we went to sit in the shade of the tower to eat our picnic lunch, the crowds emerged from the bus and groped their way in the same direction.

I normally avoid too much interaction with strangers, for reasons of shyness rather than anything less pleasant. However, I found myself unable to resist talking with a certain woman who was using a disposable film camera to photograph her friend, was already at the top of the tower.

Struggling to adopt the right tone – reliable but friendly, authoritative but not gruff – I suggested she might prefer not to take her pictures while shooting directly into the sun. This can be done quite effectively with a camera sufficiently equipped with a shiftable lens aperture and other traditional devices, but not with a drugstore disposable.

Possibly I got my point across, for she thanked me and went around and photographed her friend from the other side of the tower, with the sun behind her shoulders, making it much more likely that the picture would be something more interesting that a complete silhouette.

It is surprising how many people do not know this about cameras, and as a result you sometimes see bad pictures showing up in the most respectable places. Recently I have seen newspaper photos and real estate ad photos that show little detail because of this. I sometimes ask myself if the person who took the picture is really aware of the result, or if they simply see what they assumed they would see.

After all, the human mind is capable of persuading itself that all sorts of things are something else. No doubt we can also put down many sightings of flying saucers to this strange effect, where a mixture of human perception and desire often produces proof of what was not there.

For example, I think of my dear friend Lord Prez Trumpleton, who remains convinced to this very day that more people attended his inauguration than took part in World War II.

Anyway, I hope I helped one tourist get a better memento of Mount Battie than she would otherwise have had.

* * * * *

According to Facebook (talk about things that are not what some of us think they are!) the Flat Earth Society claims that it has members “all around the globe.”

* * * * *

Half a dozen years ago, or even more, a steel sculpture made by a good friend was stolen from a recently vacated house in the region of Spruce Head.

Despite an appeal in these pages for the piece to be returned, with a guarantee of no questions asked, it remained missing; just another of those many Midcoast mysteries that doesn’t necessarily require a flying saucer to explain it. Then, last Sunday morning, the sculpture was found abandoned at the head of the driveway to the family’s ancestral property, elsewhere in Spruce Head.

Sunday was the date of the sculptor’s birthday, also a gathering in his honorable memory, for he died too soon, in March.

That the sculpture should have been returned on that day, of all days, suggests one or two things. Perhaps it was stolen by someone who knew the artist. Perhaps it was returned because the possessor knew this was to be his memorial day. Perhaps, even, the person who returned it was at the gathering.

Anyway, it is good that this turned out the way it did. Sometimes we don’t need to know everything.

* * * * *

The Blues Festival seems to have gone off without a hitch so far as I know, other than the unfortunate discombobulation of the back porch of a summer rental in the South End, which was asked to carry the weight of far too many house guests Saturday evening, after the day’s music was over.

At one or two minutes after 9 p.m., the overloaded structure collapsed in the downward direction, and put an end to the general beery nature of the evening that everyone had seemed to be enjoying up to that moment.

No deaths or dismemberments were reported, so far as I know.

* * * * *

Twenty-four hours later, after the festival has closed for the 26th year, the temperature was 73 degrees, as measured in the darkened interior of my residential cardboard box in the aforementioned towers.

The Four Seagulls simply glowered at me in dark silence from the opposite side near the battlements, occasionally stopping to peck a small lump of cement residue from under a wing or rump, or wherever, and to spit it out in my direction.

I only hope they will eventually decide to forgive me. I hope everybody forgives me.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Donald Mills | Jul 19, 2019 08:24

As a "next door neighbour" in New Brunswick, Canada, and spending a week every September in the Rockland/Rockport area,  I am familiar with many of the locations mentioned. The opinion pieces by Mr. Grima are my number 1 go to things to do first thing Friday morning at the office. I am not familiar, though, with the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where he is forced to live. However, this September I shall try and make a point of finding it, so I can say "I've been there" and add to the enjoyment.

Long may he live!!!!


Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 18, 2019 14:38

I just never get enough of your tongue and cheek humor.

thanks for the info and chuckles!

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