Maine was a mighty fine place to spend a few August days, though we misjudged the hottest days Kansas City would have to offer.
I have this to report: We do need more lobster pounds in the Midwest.
And yes, the rocky bays and inlets of that rough Northeast coast are filled with the salty tears of the kin of all those sea creatures I sought out and devoured.
Remember the scene in “Splash” where Madison tore into the lobster’s armor with her teeth? Yeah, it was kinda like that.
For any of you out there wondering how to celebrate my birthday, I’ll just note that it’s on National Oyster Day. The gods, clearly, had plans for me.
I’ve always been crazy about anything to do with the sea, although I confess I might have been in high school before realizing that “yacht” did not rhyme with “hatch.”
A reader, not a talker, ’twas I, and luxury sea cruisers just didn’t come up much in supper discussion of a lower-middle-class Midwest family with hogs to cut and beans to cultivate the next day.
Anyway, on those Maine nights at our friends’ “camp” on Jacob Buck Pond, the cries of the loons would stop discussion. No, we didn’t have Fox News on. These were the wonderfully vocal water birds. We need more of them, too, in the Midwest.
And from our expertly aimed Adirondack chairs, we would watch the sun set over Jacob Buck Mountain, rays bouncing off the clouds and painting the lake in shimmering pastels.
This was just north a bit of Bucksport, which goes to show you that if you get to someplace early enough, you get to name everything after yourself. The town, however, honors Jacob’s big brother, Col. Jonathan Buck, who came up from Massachusetts to start up a saw mill and mow down all those tall pines.
Jonathan’s large graveyard monument is a bit of a tourist stop on the highway to Bar Harbor because of “the leg,” an unremovable stain on the granite that clearly is the outline of just such an appendage.
It’s a great story. As magistrate, Buck sentenced a woman to the flames for witchcraft. She cursed him. Her leg rolled out of the fire. So naturally, the stain.
As it turns out, the excellent tomato bisque at Macleod’s just down the road has more body than this tale.
No “witch” was ever put to death in Maine, and none by fire in America. Buck didn’t have the authority, anyway. And all the witch business was history by the time he was even born in 1719.
Another good story ruined by research.
Speaking of women’s legs, that reminds me of Virginia Hall, one of the bravest of the brave, said to be the only American civilian woman to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II.
Hall later worked for our OSS and the CIA. President Harry Truman wanted a ceremony for the DSC award, but she was still on the job and politely declined.
She got her start spying for the Brits using code names such as Diane, Camille, Marie of Lyon and Philomene. To the Gestapo she was the “Limping Lady.” Why? Her wooden leg, the result of a hunting accident.
She did her work in Vichy, France, posing as an American correspondent, but it got too hot, and she had to escape by climbing over the Pyrenees into Spain. She warned London that it would be as difficult with “Cuthbert,” the name she’d humorously given her prosthetic.
Here’s a reminder just how rough they played in those days. The uncomprehending and anxious Brit spymasters sent back: “If Cuthbert troublesome, eliminate him.”
That’s my attitude. Lobsters and oysters are always troublesome, at least to get to the good parts, so my orders are to eliminate them.
You’re probably admiring how I managed to circle back to Maine before the end of this column, right?
Just a case of following the loon.