Actually, it’s Maine, so while I was writing the title, it suddenly wasn’t hot any more.
Once when I was a kid we were at Mass and it was a sweltering humid summer day (St. Patrick’s in Elmira, N.Y., for some family function, if you must know) and the priest’s homily went something like, “I was at a Mass once on a day like this, and I know the last thing you want to do is sit through a long sermon, so I’ll repeat the sermon the priest gave that day: ‘It may be hot in here, but if you sin, you’ll go somewhere a whole lot hotter.”
It brought down the house.
This blog post is already longer than that sermon, so I’ll get to the point. It’s too hot to write or read long things, so today’s post is just random thoughts on writing, living and eating in the great state of Maine when it’s too hot to string together a bunch of sentences.
While working at my day job the other day, I was interviewing a guy who went to the same high school a character in the book I’m writing attended. I had to catch myself from asking the guy I was interviewing if he knew my character. Seriously. Anyway, they wouldn’t have have been in the same class, so probably not.
Every meal I eat outside in the summer is, at that moment, the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
Fourth of July parades, and all that goes with them, may be a little cheesy, but aren’t you glad we’ve got them? A bunch of firetrucks, the Kora cars, people throwing candy, lots of red white and blue. Brass bands. What more do you need?
I’ve said this in at least one book and will likely say it in more: It’s a weird scene in Maine in the summer, people who have to get up to work every morning sharing a town with people on vacation. It’s like that “Lost in Space” with the parallel universes. As the person who has to get up in the morning — and there aren’t enough pillows in the world to put over my head to drown out the constant thrum thrum thrum of that live music coming from somewhere — it’s the vacationers who are the parallels with the pointy beards. Not you, you summer people who are reading this blog post, but those other ones. You know who I’m talking about.
On the other hand, there are few things as delightful for a Maine writer than the summer library book talk on a hot night with iced tea, brownies and people you’ve never seen before (because they’re visiting) who want to hear about your book.
I was speaking to a book group in Massachusetts last week that wasn’t sated with my answer to the “Who would play your characters in a movie?” (No one, because they’re their own people and don’t look like anyone but themselves, and who do you think should play them? Said with playful grin.). To hold off the fury, I mentioned the actor Michael Ontkean circa mid-70s. Someone looked him up on an iPad and they passed it around. It calmed them down a little. But no, he wouldn’t play Pete the police chief. He’s a little too handsome and, well, just not Pete. Sorry, folks.
I stopped for lunch at Thompson’s Restaurant in Bingham a few weeks ago (five stars!) and had an awesome grilled cheese sandwich and pea soup (this is before the weather got hot). Everything is homemade.
While sitting at the counter, I had a brief but pleasant conversation with a grandfatherly guy in a booth about his coconut pie, what the right amount of coconut in a pie should be, whether I should get it too, or get the chocolate cream pie (it’s all homemade!), and whether someone should invent a pie that’s half of one, half of the other.
He left before I did, and when I went to cash out, I found he’d paid for my lunch. After getting over our delight, the cashier, a middle-aged woman, and I shared some slightly salty jokes about his intentions. An all-around perfect lunch experience.
I’ve become increasingly obsessed with Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec — it’s hard to avoid if you live in the Kennebec River valley and like to read historical markers. Watch out, because I’m going to be writing about it very, very soon. When it’s not so hot out.
We get so little nice weather and winters are so long that, dammit, I’m going to sit on my porch every single day I can, whether I like it or not.
If you read my blog posts, you already know this, but I highly recommend on some sunny day mapping out an inland two-lane to nowhere, roll down the windows, put on some tunes and bomb through the hot summer sun to someplace in Maine you’ve never been before.
When you get there, drop a few bucks in a local eatery or store (it’s a long winter in more ways than one in a lot of Maine), poke in at the museum or historical society if it’s open, and enjoy the short time we have every year to do that kind of thing. If you live here, thank your lucky stars. If you’re visiting, enjoy your stay. And keep it down at night, will ya? Some of us gotta work in the morning.