Perhaps driving to New England by land as it was being approached by sea by Hurricane Kyle was not a good plan.

On the other hand, this was the time my vacation was scheduled for, so, by god, we were going.

It rained late into the night Friday when we took off after I had filed a story news story.

It was still raining at 1 a.m. Saturday when we stopped for the night. It rained the entire time we wandered around Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., and visited the replica of Henry David Thoreau’s tiny cabin, and the site where the actual structure had stood.

I had wanted to visit the spot for years, but figured I had better read the actual book, rather than keep snippets of its text posted here and there by other people. I read Walden over the winter and spring, and thereby, by my own lights, figured I had met the qualifications.

Statue of Thoreau and replica of his cabin

Statue of Thoreau and replica of his cabin

I kicked myself, though, because I had not thought to bring something I could swim in, because it is, after all, autumn. About a half dozen people bobbed around in the pond, which is a very popular swimming hole for folks in the Boston area. The water was about 70 degrees. I should have liked to have swum there. A baptism of sorts.

Ah, well.

Anyway, it rained all the way from Concord to New Harbor, stopping long enough, thoughtfully, for us to unload the car. I’m told we had about five inches of rain in total up here.

The rain, mind you, is no problem for us, who come here with reading and writing in mind. We’ve both done plenty of both.

Today, however, the sky bears no hint of cloud, though there is more rain in the forecast. It will be a day to head into town, to check email, raid the library’s used book store, and hit the health-food store and Reny’s department store for a few things. Did I mention that Reny’s is very near the King Eider Pub? No? Must have slipped my mind.

The Osprey, I am happy to report, is back on its feet. Some of you may remember that a year ago, as we sat eating ice-cream on the night before our departure, the cabin’s stone pilings slipped out from under it and the entire joint slid down the hill toward the harbor. With us aboard. Nobody was hurt, and The Osprey actually suffered very little damage. This year we found the cottage standing about 10 feet further up the hill than before, on solid concrete and 4X6 foundations.

Leonard Osier's tomcat

Oh, and the owner, Leonard Osier, now has a new buddy, a strapping big tomcat, whose name I have not yet discovered. Taffy-colored, with pale blue eyes, and friendly.

Leonard Osier’s Cat

Anyway, as I said, it’s clear and sunny, in the 60s, with a gentle breeze. The tangle of berry vines, monk’s hood, and other wildflowers about 12 feet from this window is alive with butterflies and birds. Trees in low-lying areas burn with reds, yellows and oranges. The doors and windows of The Osprey stand wide open. The sound of lobster boats in the harbor compete with Mozart piano sonatas on the stereo. A trio of cormorants, whom I’ve named Manny, Moe, and Jack, stand on the gunwales of a small open boat moored in the center of the harbor, drying their wings and gossiping. The blue heron that had stood at the water’s edge grooming himself maybe 30 feet away just left. Perhaps he dislikes Mozart. Life is good.


© 2008 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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Hold My Beer and Watch This

September 14, 2008

It’s a well-worn joke that in the South where I grew up, the most common Last Words for men are “Hold my beer and watch this.”

There are some folks in Texas who ought to be made to wear t-shirts with that slogan on them.

The joke arose because of the belief that Southern males have the reputation of finding the most dang-fool ways to get their tickets punched.

I am reminded of the young fellow from a neighboring town in my youth who put a 427-cubic-inch hot rod motor into a Ford Falcon. For those too young to remember them, the Falcon was sort of a compact car, at least back then.

It was pretty impressive, in sound and in looks, if a bit odd in the latter department, a little freakish in the proportion.

The car did everything suddenly. It was so fast that the cops couldn’t come close to catching him…on a straight road, that is. He discovered to his great dismay that when the car was in full acceleration, the front tires were no longer in contact with the road. He was way ahead of the police on a back road one day when he started to accelerate out of a curve and he, the Falcon and the big motor all climbed up a bank and into a cluster of trees, spreading bits and pieces and this and that all over the place and alarming the squirrels no end.

If you didn’t grow up in the South, that sounds just plain stupid. But, down home, we have a whole category of dumb that isn’t so prevalent among Yankees. I think it may be a holdover from the trauma of having come in second in The War of Yankee Aggression, and still called in some circles “The War,” meaning that there had not been any wars since the 1860s of any great consequence.

Some of the loony acts of which we have a sort of cockeyed pride may simply be some sort of off-kilter valor, sort of a Pickett’s Charge with Budweiser, NASCAR, and Garth Brooks playing the soundtrack.

Frankly, I was kind of hoping that the South had outgrown all that nonsense, but a piece I wrote a few years ago about the Confederate flag resulted in tons of hateful email, threats of lawsuits for slander, libel, and aggravated mopery, and offers to do violence to my person disabused me of that notion.

As if that had not been enough, the bravado fiasco in Texas regarding Hurricane Ike would have shattered any hopes I had.

You’ve probably already heard about it. A bunch of Texas Yahoos on the coast, even when told that staying behind as Ike approached would mean almost certain death in low-lying areas, said basically, “Ya’ll go ahead and run. We’ll stay and ride it out.”

I would be willing to bet that they don’t wear helmets when they ride their Harleys, and talk airily about their rights to spend decades in a vegetative state in a taxpayer-funded nursing home.

Apparently, the words “certain death” just don’t hold a lot of meaning for these would-be stalwarts.

I say “would be” because after the storm hit, thousands of these fair-weather heroes picked up their cell phones and yelled for help.

An Associated Press story this morning said “Authorities hoped to spare thousands of Texans — 140,000 by some estimates who ignored orders to flee ahead of Hurricane Ike — from another night among the destruction. Some had been rescued, but unknown thousands remained stranded.”

Fortunately, the story reported that so far there had been only four deaths blamed on Ike.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office said thousands of people – you remember the “We’ll ride it out” crowd – had called in and said they had pretty much reconsidered.

A local police officer, probably choosing his words carefully, said “What’s really frustrating is that we can’t get to them….It’s jeopardizing our safety when we try to tell them eight hours before to leave. They are naive about it, thinking it’s not going to be that bad.”

Well, duh. As the Talking Heads sang in Life in Wartime, “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.”

Pretty nervy. They’ll probably want their beers back, too.

I have to admit that my first impulse was to say “the hell with them…let’em drown.” But that would be unkind and anyway the water’s going to be polluted enough. In any case, I would be willing to bet that the decision to stay behind was Daddy’s in most cases, and I wouldn’t give plug nickel for Daddy’s joy and happiness at the dinner table, once Mama and the kiddies have one again.

But I do think that the families who had to be plucked off of rooftops and whatnot after multiple warnings that they should evacuate should have to pay a hefty fine, to help pay for all those boats, helicopters, tall-wheeled trucks and heroes who faced real peril going out into the flood to rescue their dumb butts from disaster.
© 2008 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites: