the town column

main street

The Town Column is an intimate news item found in local weeklies, historically, across the nation. Relevant, in print, it’s fortunate to have town columns continue in the age of digitization. Rural community is greatly supported by the continuing institution of the local weekly. It informs us, but also defends all other communal institutions through reportage of everything from schools, town management, churches, clubs and societies, businesses, and local entertainment. But the town columns referred to in this Green and Blue House entry are, additionally, the cozy-news source, the one that makes the reader especially welcome and participating as an individual.

In our local are many columns, each representing rural town-news, towns associated in our territorial school district.

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Thanks to the Sun Journal

Bissonnette Plumbing works unfreezing pipes

It’s said Old Age is meant to dissolve “earthly desires.” Here’s a short list of things not numbered among these desires: food, raiment (remember that word?), shelter, warmth. Kindness. Generosity. Friendship. Peace. Puppies. All these are not earthly desires, but eternal qualities, heaven’s grant.

Lately the Sun Journal’s daily issues include front-page stories about the mundane mishaps of Extreme Cold. Currently we experience in Maine nightly temps below 0°F.

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Maine. Recommended Reading

The House that Jacob Built (New York: William Morrow, 1947). Maine, as everywhere, is in transition but this gives a solid reading experience of the Maine way.

Some books I’ve enjoyed, not in order of preference:

The Walk Down Main Street; and also The Spoonhandle, by Ruth Moore.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I disagree completely with this Maine play on the Columbine shootings.  Schools in each situation are not comparable, nor does he get the socio-economic level right in regards to the shooter. I do not think it would happen so in Maine, even today (18-21 years later). But other than that he gets much right and this, as HBO production, is good, I think. I’m fairly sure I read the book, too, but the show images are much stronger in my memory. Take care in these kind of media passes.

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North Country Press puts out Dana Wilde’s book

Summer to Fall is full of God’s creation and mystical caring in fine detail. Dana Wilde loves Thoreau’s scientific approach, quotes Emerson, thinks in connections on the page. He shows, with exquisite detail, patterns in nature’s unfathomable abundance of species, and her lack of personal caring for anything but her own. Occasionally he cautions about nature’s lack of personal caring for humans: He rounds out his superb book with mythic Nature’s profound godlike jealous hauteur over her fathomless domain. It’s important to understand this if you live on the edge of the wilderness or take up temporary residence in Washington DC in stewardship of policy. Dana Wilde, however, makes no explicit suggestions regarding the latter. All is submerged in the story he tells us of Maine’s creatures, Maine’s creation. We may not see Artemis in a human-shaped body. But we see her in everything else. Here, in Wilde’s book, mythopoeic possibility abounds.

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Democracy in a small Maine town

HERE IS A VINTAGE CIRCA 1941 PHOTO OF A LOCAL TOWN HALL.

 

greenwood town hall

 

No account of Maine’s development and spirit would be complete without mention of its great sea-faring activities. Even before statehood in 1820, Maine produced ships for the military and for private merchant fleets. Maine had the lumber to produce ships, it had the ocean front–2500 miles of it–from which to commence. The CHRONICLE editor points out that sea-faring gave what would have been a fairly provincial existence the worldly experience necessary to broaden thought. Country boys were given a chance to learn the skill, gain in authority, and see places only dreamed of by many.

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In this little world of learning,

a goodly heritage

CHRONICLE editor Lee included words about the village school in his collection of Maine writings. The educator Mary Ellen Chase writes of the old-time two-room school she attended as a child. She points out the flaws of the “system”; reuse of old books, obsolete maps, “harassed and overworked,” teachers. And she tells of its strengths: “pride in learning well,” “solidarity of outlook” and the instillation of morally strengthening ideas. In this little world of learning, foolishly considered narrow by some today, a love of learning flourished in Mary Ellen Chase as she glimpsed learning at levels higher than her own. Learning was something mysterious and wise, as she saw in “the beauty and order of common fractions” that an older student had transcribed on the board. In this I find the idea that knowing is not as enlivening as the process of learning. Once the thrill of revelation wears off, one wants to proceed through the process of learning afresh.

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humor succeeding in maine

MAINE: A LITERARY CHRONICLE

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.

 

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Faith in Maine

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.

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the maine hermit

Here’s included just enough of the hermit’s story to tantalize you. He lived, solitary, within sound of the occasional lawnmower and motorboats plying waters on the pond below his camp. The author of The Stranger in the Woods, Mr. Finkel, called Christopher Knight’s meeting with people “collisions”— as Anne Morrow Lindbergh used this word, I noticed while reading her journals. Collision.

We went biking uphill and downhill through woods, over sand deposits on trails — sands left by the glaciers. It’s the trail I think of as my free will trail. Sometimes on the trail I think about free will.

 

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