Monday, November 22, 2010

Weeping rocks

We have entered the bleak days of mid-November. It is cold and damp and dreary and dim. I went early today to Yarmouth to let Nick have one more romp in his favorite place. I stopped to pick up a coffee and a bagel (pumpkin with raisin walnut cream cheese, light please) and before I got on the highway, the windshield was beginning to collect scattered drops. Thankfully they weren't snow, just that miniscule nasty stuff that makes turning the wipers on lowest setting.

I watch the rocks. They are nearly as interesting as the leaves and grasses. Maine has huge glacial rocks which have been violated in order to accommodate our extensive highway systems. Too bad. But it does give someone like me an opportunity to see what they look like inside. I don't know much about geology, practically noting in fact, but the rocks fascinate me, as I have mentioned before. Early this month the faces of the rocks were pale and dry; very cold appearing. Then we had a few nice days, and the rocks warmed with the sun. On the south side of the road the rocks became moist from recent rains draining from the soil above. Today it was cold. The rocks were bearded with strands of ice. Not the hard thick ice of winter, but the thin, thready strands on the most protruding surfaces. The deep cuts, randomly left by the blasts that split the rock open, were small dark pockets. The kind a kid might hide a secret message in if he had access to the rock.

Leaving the highway, going around the narrow off-ramp also cut through glacial rock, kids had painted some of the surfaces with white and blue and pink. The surface, slightly iced, blurred the words and lines of their graffiti. The town does not consider it a defacing worth the effort of erasing. I like the natural rock and wish the kids would respect the beauty they are obscuring.

At Nick's favorite place, the ground is still a bit mushy; the pine needles have been cleaned up. The bark of the trees is dark and cold, and the evergreens' young needles have turned their darkest winter green.. The old needles were the golden ones that dropped off and are long gone to composting. Walking in the yard, my feet felt the cold and damp of November.

At home, I clipped the last of the roses, some just budding but nipped by the frost, and put the covers over them. A light gust of wind blew all the covers off within minutes so I went back out to cover them again, and I found a few mid-sized rocks to hold them down. At Yarmouth I picked up some bigger, flatter stones to ensure the "rose cones" will stay put. Tomorrow I will cover the butterfly bush out front, put the lights on the shrubs and try to figure out a way to light my front door for the holidays.
A very nice Boy Scout came by yesterday selling wreaths, nicely decorated and ready to hang. $18. More than I have ever paid for a wreath.I purchased a bag of delicious chocolate covered popcorn from a Cub Scout earlier. $24. I like to think it is going to a good cause.

Cold, bleak November - rocks whose tears freeze on their faces.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


It was my pleasure this week to have three members of the American Legion Standish Maine Post as guests for my radio program, Community Focus. These members of the Legion served in three different branches of America's Armed Forces; Navy, Air Force and Army. Each expressed pride in their branch of the service, but joined in the common bond of "veteran of an armed conflict."

We discussed today's role for the Legion. Some posts have deactivated due to dwindling numbers. Some have had to give up post homes, but have managed to stay active in buildings shared by other civic entities. Currently, the post in Standish, which is Memorial Post 128, meets in a facility owned by the Standish Kiwanis. They are working to put enough money away to build their own Post home which they envision will be a community building with facilities for, not only their meetings, but the gatherings of other groups and civic events.

American Legion Memorial Post 128 has around 70 members. They meet once monthly for socialization and a brief formal meeting. Currently they are running a Bingo night at The Roost in Buxton. I am not a big Bingo fan, but my guests made it sound like a lot of fun and if it weren't at night I would be tempted to join them - at least once to test the waters.

Among civic activities the Post has been involved in: A formal and respectful flag disposal ceremony; visiting veterans in nursing home facilities, particularly the Maine Veterans' Home in Scarborough, and those at Togus Veterans' Hospital, Veterans' Day activities and Memorial Day activities. They are looking forward to 2011 for many activities and events.

I was impressed. I don't know why exactly it made such an impression on me, but I sat with these three men and I want to describe what I observed. Three men who served in three different branches of the armed services in a period of armed conflict; Europe, Asia - on foot, aboard ship, in the air. Everyone shaved, groomed, articulate, good humored, no foul language, respectful of each other and of their radio and internet audiences around the world. I am struck that these three men represent the best of Maine, the USA and our armed forces. They are dedicated to continuing the service of the American Legion, to helping the young men and women who are returning as veterans from the current conflicts, supporting the families waiting for them, supporting those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Honoring the flag, the laws of land, and working to leave behind a better community for the next generation.

I salute Will, Hal and Bruce today. And I thank them for giving me the opportunity to spend an hour with them; learn from them; and feel optimistic that an old tradition of the American Legion is continuing.

If you are interested in listening to this conversation with these three veterans, go to and look for Community Focus on the schedule for the times it will air.

Jan Major

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bronze November

There are two months of the year I could do without. One is March, the other November. But March does have a little to recommend it - it is the precursor to Spring. November - ? Not so much.

As I was driving east this week on a sunny afternoon, most of the trees were bare except for those oaks whose bronze leaves cling fiercely to their mother/trees. the evergreens are dark to almost black; the hardwood trees are forlornly bare and gray. The tide was out in the bay as I crossed the Martin's Point Bridge. The bare cold flats were slightly brown from the sunlight, slick and sticky looking. Just by looking you could tell if you stepped into them you would sink boot deep in the muck. A clammer, was trudging along, clam rake over shoulder and basket in hand. I think you have to have a license to dig clams so maybe he was just getting those ugly blood worms for bait. Anyway, he was picking his steps trying to stay a course without getting stuck. November is all gray and brown and bronze, bronze being the only attractive color among them. The first year I was away from home for my November birthday, my parents sent me a bouquet of bronze chrysanthemums. They added a cheerful note to my otherwise drab YWCA room.

The weather is uncertain. We have just had a miserable two days of wind and rain, which cleared out a bit this afternoon and is supposed to give way tomorrow to a nice day. I will be heading south to spend most of the day with music friends.

Things have to be done in November. Shut off the outside faucets. Clean up the plants that have struggled to survive this long. Fill the bird feeders. Get the storm door glass put in. The doors in these condos are ridiculously complex. You have to completely exchange the glass and screen seasonally. The glass,of course, is dangerously heavy for an old woman to handle, hence, someone has to come do it for me. Storing it is a pain. But I am sure the price was right, and most everyone who was involved in the initial installations was at least twelve years younger than they are now. No foresight. Now we are mostly old women/widows who would appreciate an easy to manage self-storing appliance. But changing the doors is most definitely not on the association agenda. The truth is, we would have to pay for them ourselves, and they all have to be exactly alike. Not a chance in hades getting that to pass. I'm told I am getting a neighbor in the condo attached to mine. That may make November worth having.

November does have a few of noteable dates: tomorrow night before we go to sleep we should set our clocks back (unless you live in one of the four states that do not observe DST); Veterans' Day is November 11. It used to be called Armistice Day, but several wars later, the WWI Armistice lost it's importance, although honoring veterans did not. On Thursday, November 11 at noon, the radio station I am affiliated with (doesn't that sound important!) will do a tribute to the armed services. This is a repeat of the program I put together a couple of years ago.
Thanksgiving Day, a bright spot at the end of the month, heralding the coming of the Christian and Jewish Holy Days.

Post election, there were winners and losers on my ticket. I didn't have any bets on any of them, but took some pleasure that some of my choices made it to the winners' circle. Now we will wait and see how much can be done with the changes that will take place in February when the electees take their places in both the state and federal offices.

November, brown, gray and beautiful bronze. Oh, yes, and the bright orange of hunters as they prowl the woods and fields for venison on the hoof.