The Greenland purchase

By David Grima | Aug 22, 2019

A pair of locals reports overhearing the following remarks from a visitor, while dining out in our fair city.

I only report this stuff because it illustrates something we are so familiar with that we often cannot be bothered to take it seriously.

The gist of the gentleman’s complaint is that lobster lines often entangle the propeller shaft on his own little boat, and that he cannot understand why Maine lobstermen insist on tying these lines to their traps in the first place.

Surely, he said, they should be dropping unsecured traps to the bottom fitted with tiny little cameras, so they can see when the traps are full. At which point they could surely empty the traps by diving to them?

Now, either this chap was having a great joke at our expense, or else he needs to be placed in a re-education camp until he has mended his ways.

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The US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Rockland office, which oversees 61 Maine islands from its HQ in the South End, says an additional 10 are being transferred to its supervision under an arrangement with The Nature Conservancy.

These extra islands include Brimstone, Little Brimstone and The Brothers.

The USF&WS monitors the health and numbers of seabirds at these places, often using students who spend their summers out there in the middle of the ocean blue, counting and recording. The whole project could be described, I suppose, as Interns Taking Turns to Count Terns.

* * * * *

Hmm, maybe I could talk the USF&WS into taking away the wretched Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse that vex me so much in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live?

* * * * *

Union Fair this week; I have not yet decided if I will attend this year.

Back in June when the fair sponsored a flea market, cars leaving the fairgrounds were not allowed to exit the same way they entered. Instead they were sent off on a long and expensive trek through back fields, to emerge somewhere near the Methodist church.

This exit route was no more than a rutted track. At one place the ruts were so deep that my exhaust system was partway torn off as my poor car grounded out.

Going to the fairgrounds that day therefore cost me the entrance fee plus some $400 in repairs, and I find myself strangely reluctant to risk it again, especially as the map printed in the brochure suggests they are still insisting on drivers' crossing the Back Forty with its ridges and ruts, to get out.

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It was announced at a public meeting last week that The Courier and the Free Press are being reorganized to coexist under one roof.

Just about half the people I meet in town mention this, as well as saying that this joining of resources is expected to happen in Camden. The Courier would therefore no longer have a home in Rockland. Sigh.

* * * * *

In consequence of their recent vandalism at the Dragon Cement shipping wharf in the South End, breaking a window and spilling some of their own blood, two local youths were directed by the court to participate in Restorative Justice, a nonprofit civic program whereby guilty parties are encouraged to meet their victims and make amends, rather than being locked up at considerable public expense.

* * * * *

As the season moves on, crickets and cicadas are taking turns filling the summer air with their songs.

* * * * *

At a dinner party last week, it was my honor to be invited along with a number of people belonging to a junior generation. One was once a Cub Scout in the now-defunct Rockland Pack that I helped run back in the last century.

He told me that he had considerable fun up to a point, and still remembers how to tie certain useful knots which he taught as a small sprout at den meetings. I was more pleased than I can say.

* * * * *

Then at another dinner party on Saturday, (my, oh my, what a social butterfly!) and at the opposite end of the age spectrum, I heard testimony from a person who attended the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, as a relatively innocent 20-year-old, 50 years ago last week.

On Sunday I also stumbled across a PBS film about the festival, and it was eerie how much the images and spoken words resembled the in-person evidence I had collected over dinner the night before. Could this witness possibly have been telling me the unvarnished truth?

* * * * *

I see our beloved Lord Prez Trumpleton has floated the notion that he wants to buy Greenland. He has kindly explained to me why.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803, arranged under President Thomas Jefferson, added some 827,000 square miles to the national storehouse, at a cost of about $15 million.

Greenland, at about 836,000 square miles, would create an almost identical increase in the national square footage. But why?

Besides the enormous prestige the Greenland Purchase would add to his presidency, the Lord Prez also told me he is sick to death of people talking about how much of Greenland’s ice cover is melting due to climate change.

He doesn’t give a rat’s rear about whether Greenland indeed does turn green again. Frankly, he said, if the U.S. buys the place (he’s willing to increase the Louisiana price by as much as another million), he can put up a wall all around it so nobody will be able to keep tabs on it and keep bothering him about how it is still melting.

As he explained at the end of our phone call: “Why can’t everyone just leave me alone?”

* * * * *

However, from the wreckage of the General International Situation, there does arise another possibility that could be of significant interest to the people of Rockland. Why not ask China to rebuild our roads and fund our schools?

For this is exactly what China is doing all across the African continent right now, as explained by our breakfast conversation with a local boy home on leave, who is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Malawi.

All the Chinese would want from us would be tariff-free port facilities in Rockland, and they would willingly rebuild our harbor, fix all our roads, and subsidize all our schools to the level that the state has refused to every year since it promised that it would.

* * * * *

Finally, a piece of useful wisdom that also arose from the same meeting of Five Men in a Booth at the local diner Monday morning:

Q: How can you tell when people are vegetarians?

A: You don’t have to. Give them a couple of seconds and they’ll tell you all about it without being asked.

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