What lies beneath

By David Grima | Aug 23, 2018

George Holmes, owner of By George Jewelers on Main Street, died only a few days ago, close to the anniversary of the death of his longtime hero, Elvis Presley.

When Presley expired Aug. 16, 1977, he had been scheduled to give two concerts at the Portland Civic Center Aug. 17 and 18. George had decided to demonstrate his appreciation of Elvis by presenting him a diamond belt buckle on stage just before the start of one of these concerts, but obviously that did not happen.

George had his jewelry shop on Main Street for 32 years, so far as I can tell. There were many summer mornings when I was driving by on the way to work (of course I work!), and he would be out there with a garden hose, watering the greenery outside his door before opening for business.

In all those years, he was gracious enough never to turn the hose on me.

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Speaking of water, things were quite dry for some time earlier this summer, with the occasional brief local downpours having done only a little to change the situation.

In Europe, they are reporting that the drought has revealed ancient ruins buried for centuries under fields, and on the southern tip of Ireland a more recently lost work of human hands was revealed following grass fires.

During World War II, Ireland, or Eire, as it is known in Irish Gaelic, was a neutral country, and the Irish laid out stones in a field in the south that spelled out “Eire” in huge capitals to alert German and Allied airmen that they were over neutral territory. This marker, lost in the brambles in the intervening 70 years, was uncovered by fire this summer.

Elsewhere in Europe this summer, ancient stone walls, some Roman and others from more recent centuries, have been revealed as dry brown lines on the landscape, visible mostly from aircraft. This is because the earth is shallower over these ruins than in the surrounding landscape, and shallow-rooted grass suffers more from lack of rain.

This effect of dryness was illustrated for me last week when I was enjoying lunch in Achorn Cemetery, here in the Lime City. (I think of these little picnics as “Dining with the Dead,” it’s all very gothic, you know.)

Walking around the beautiful green fields filled with flags and gravestones, I noticed that many stones were accompanied by dry brown patches of grass the size of the burial vaults attached to them. Here, too, the dry weather has served to reveal the presence of what lies beneath, in this case the outline of the burials of many of our forebears, friends and neighbors.

* * * * *

After weeks of suffering back pain and going to physical therapy, Uncle Ed forgot to go for his appointment the other day and declared that he has not felt this good for ages.

* * * * *

Last week I used the wrong word to describe a death in a Sherlock Holmes story, writing “grizzly” when I should have written “grisly” or perhaps “gruesome”. Thanks to the alert reader who pointed this out.

* * * * *

It has been 10 years since the South End Tomato Lady first brought a sample of her harvest to my door, and it happened again last week.

Almost certainly there were one or two years when it was not good tomato weather and there was no delivery, but I have always been grateful for these little care packages which she leaves tied to the mildewed rope that hangs from the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

* * * * *

Although I take care to express my affection for Rockland when I write these little pieces of nonsense for the newspaper each week, I cannot deny that interesting things sometimes happen in other towns, too.

Take this past Sunday, for example, when I was driving downhill on Wadsworth Street in Thomaston (a town believed by sages and magicians to exist slightly west of here.) Rolling gently downhill ahead of me was an inflated colored ball about six or seven feet in height.

I have no idea how far it had rolled when I passed it, but later in the day I saw it had been rescued from an almost inevitable descent into the river, and was safely stored at Number 49. Such an adventure for a ball!

* * * * *

Speaking of the South End, I see that a cement sidewalk is being laid between the late Newty Chambers’ house at the corner of Crescent and Atlantic and, most likely, my concrete towers. It hasn’t got as far as my place yet, but it seems headed in that direction.

Oddly enough, someone seems to have been inspired to draw a crazy-paving effect in the concrete while it was still wet, which will make it rather a bumpy ride for people who use baby carriages, etc. But it is very nice to see the footpath.

Less pleasant to see, however, is the encroachment of sumac trees in the same area.

One of the delights of the South End is its generally fine public views of the harbor and the infinite distance beyond Vinalhaven. But now we have sumac growing up the embankment from the beach and, as we know, these things grow thick and tall in no time. If nothing is done about it, they will soon block all views of the harbor.

Evidence of the loss of public views due to similar circumstances is all around us. The rest area at Powerhouse Hill in Glen Cove once also provided a fine view of the cove and islands, which is now almost lost in the thicket of untrimmed trees.

The scenic turnout on Route 1 in Lincoln County that once afforded a view of Damariscotta Village has gone blind for exactly this reason, too. And many so-called passing places on Route 17 going to and from Augusta are now dangerous because of the unrestrained growth of trees in the sightlines.

I hope somebody does something about all this, especially here in the South End. Thank you.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Cathy Baker | Aug 23, 2018 16:46

David:  Sumac is nutritious (for winter birds), delicious (when you make sumac-ade from its gorgeous garnet-red fuzzy berries), and deciduous.  Come the fall, the sumac assumes lovely hues, drops its leaves, and your view will return.  Meanwhile, the shoreline needs all the vegetative root structure it's got to keep from eroding faster into the mudflats, and the rising tide.

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