Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July the 4th 2017

The lobstering, to put it tamely, has been absolutely appalling f-ing dogsh** kind of bad, so instead, some nostalgia.

I'm old enough that things were really different when I wasn't this age. Having a job as a child and teen, for instance, wasn't a recipe for exploitation by ruthless businesses, it was the foundation of self respect and character in my life. I worked for a family farm and was treated as family. Instead of being car-seated and airbagged through my young existence, I was empowered by doing hard work and learning to use judgment with big powerful pieces of farm equipment, all under the care of really good people.

That was in Bowdoinham, Maine. As a youngster, I thought there was only one way that the Fourth of July transpired- the way it was in Bowdoinham. There was a build-up something like that as Christmas approaches, with floats being constructed in barns, bike decorations being piled on, figuring out how to get my hands on some firecrackers and other anticipations of the day.

What Bowdoinham had on the Fourth that was unique was a chicken barbecue. A very large chicken barbecue. Large enough that any enterprising thief would've had a free run through all homes in Sagadahoc County for about 6 hours. There were hundreds upon hundreds of chicken dinners served, a midway, art exhibits, rummage sales, live music and at the end, of course, fireworks. It was a high point of the year.

I thought this was the only way the Fourth of July was done.

The Bowdoinham Chicken Barbecue made Time magazine as it was originally conceived to help finance a new schoolhouse. I loved the old Coombs School, 3 wood framed stories of slightly haunted feeling classrooms and halls. I guess some folks thought it was a falling down fire trap. 45 years after my last class there, the building defies those expectations and serves as office space and the town library.

Matinicus Island does up the Fourth pretty well, with its own parade, fireworks, parties and large music on the town wharf.

This year is a little different. My two younger ones are off the island for the first Fourth since 2005. The energy is down a notch from the usually Mardi Gras-esque vibe probably due to wretched lobster catches.

It being a different sort of year, Megan and I decided to go out and haul traps. I felt a twinge of being less than patriotic at first. I also questioned our ability to know when it might be time to take a day off. Some time around 10:00 a.m., though, I looked at the bright blue sky with the puffy clouds of a good haying day, the water, the rocks and the island and felt profound gratitude for my country, particularly this salty spruce-covered corner of it.

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