Maine humor, dry, often self-deprecating, was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. According to Editor/ compiler W. Storrs Lee, Mark Twain was influenced by Maine’s Artemus Ward (born Charles Farrar Browne just over the hills in Waterford). Ward practiced Maine humor. Lincoln wanted him in the room with him during the Civil War–at least he wanted Ward’s words there, opening a meeting of the cabinet.
I found exquisite humor and style in George S. Wasson’s “Standing Room Only” where night life at Cap’n Simeon’s Store is described. Here old salts gather round the stove, and youths atop barrels and meals sacks listen while simple wisdom and lore unjaded come forth from the humor of experience.
Just keep climbing. Almost there. Life is better when there’s something on the horizon. Something like an eclipse to watch for. Elda had been counting on this for two weeks. It was movement in heaven—even if it didn’t always live up to its billing. Maybe it was the waiting and watching that mattered, anyway. Hopeful watching itself might light and animate everything. Like an eclipse, watching could show forth an inscrutable purpose … underscored in fire and blue air. Afterward, the remains of watching would be largely unintelligible, except in that kindling still moment before God slipped away.
—Return to God’s House (first in The God’s Cycle)
My favorite selection in a particular book was written by Robert P. Tristram Coffin. So good were his words that I did not want to come to the end of them. His subject was “Cathedrals of the North,” a celebration of the Maine barn and the “worship” that is performed therein. He speaks of the fullness of summer being brought into the barn and stored against the leanness of winter. It is fed there to the patient beasts under the farmer’s care.
R. smelled skunk on waking. i went out to look around. but the skunk must have run off. which way? is this the skunk run, a mown lane between an old barn and corn field?
R. took the photos in this post on our 2010 trip to Salem/ Concord.
Above is the Salem Custom-house, built in 1819, which is smaller than the Boston house where Nathaniel Hawthorne found the faded scarlet letter, faintly embroidered in gold thread.