Thursday, December 4, 2008


A good day was winding down when an unexpected commotion called me to the top of the stairs. Dick was yelling something about calling the fire department and then rushing out the door. Behind our house, about 700 feet from our back door, dinner plate-sized flakes of ash were flying up into the air. Along the road on the other side of the brook someone's house was engulfed in flames. In about 15 minutes, before the local fire department and mutual aid could arrive and unleash water, it was beyond saving. I stood in the backyard watching the flowering smoke and tinsel-like sparks; listening to the roar and pop. In the cold, clear night voices of the firefighters carried distinctly over the trees and then I heard the crying - first a woman's voice calling for her dog and then her wails as she realized he was gone. I turned around. There in the yellow light of my own warm house stood my own dog, watching. Later, after the flames were out and the firetrucks had left, I stood looking out my back door. The red glow was gone from the horizon - there was not even a hint of smoke in the air. Above the fir by the back door the sky was full of stars. An ordinary winter night.

This morning we left early on errands and drove past the wreck of the burnt out trailer back off the road. I never knew that people lived there. Or that a dog lived there too. Here we were, only steps away from each others' doors. I probably passed those people on the road, stood in back of them on line at the grocery store, heard their voices through the screens on summer nights, heard their dog bark and my dog answer. Last night, unable to sleep, I woke Dick up and asked him if he thought those people had a place to stay for the night. He said he had thought of that too but there had been a lot of people there with them. "The poor lady," he said, "was crying". Someone took them in for the night, I'm sure. And as I lay awake at 10 and 11 and 12, I imagined my unknown neighbor also laying awake in a strange bed or on someone's couch, staring into the darkness.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I should know better than to doubt downeast wisdom. Last night, after two weeks worrying myself sick over a lost package from my mother containing some very important papers and financial information, I said a fervent prayer, just before I went to sleep, that today the package would arrive. We went for a walk this morning...the grass was crisp with frost and rosy with the early sun, bare branches webbed the hedgerows speckled here and there with bright red winterberries. When we got home there was a message on the answering machine...Linda, the postmistress at our tiny post office said she thought that the package had finally come. We jumped into the car and off we went trailing exhaust and road dust. Sure enough the package was there. Relief. Linda was as relieved as I; I had been badgering her for days and days regarding the whereabouts of the package. I told her that last night, "I gave up and said a prayer that it would be here today." Her response? "You shoulda tried that SOONAH."

I love Maine.