Saturday, October 11, 2008

Downeast Sojourn Part 4: Going Home.

Late Sunday--sunset.
Ha Ha Ha! Boy did I fuck up! I'm just past the Stueben-Millbridge line. I completely forgot how far East I am. A look at the map reminds me I'm only forty miles from New Brunswick! I'm at least six hours drive from Portland! Oh well. Dum de dum dum.
When I get back, I'll have to calculate the total distance I walked. It could've been sixty miles.
So far.

9/30 Westfield Hotel, Portland (fleabag).
10/1 Crocker House, Hancock Point.
10/2 Schoodic Bog.
10/3 Barrens I, Cherryfield.
10/4,5 Barrens II, Cherryfield.
10/6 Route 1 pond overlook, Steuben.

So now I'm back to everyday life wearing clothing and using abstractions like time instead of watching the sun. I'm back on paved and numbered roads.
It's a days hitch to Portland. At least, now, I'm at a jump off consisting of a five or ten yard walk to the highway at dawn. Hopefully, someone with business in Portland will get me there in one ride. Whatever. I'll be back tomorrow. Still on map 25. Over and out.

Monday: Yay. I'm at the bus stop, waiting on a 4:00 southbound. As far as I'm concerned, I'm ahead at this point, Steuben to Portland in about six hours, give or take a few minutes.
Ms Sparrow, of Lubec enroute to Bangor, led the charitable with a stated fondness for folkies and other coffee house strummers. Jim Lynch, Hood Sails rep enroute to Thomaston, pointed out his favorite features of Penobscot Bay. Donny Houchin, Cherokee folk singer with war wounds from Khe San, got me to Damariscotta.

The leg from Damariscotta to Wiscassett was covered by a huge comical ironworker headed to Augusta for a vote on a weak contract with Bath Iron Works. "If it's a tie vote and it's up to me, we ain't workin' tomorrow".
A small business consultant who enjoyed classical music got me to Bath. A silent fellow got me to Falmouth and a coupla' cokehead hot shits brought me to the Congress St. exit ramp.

Jim Lynch makes a good living from little boats; yachts and such always need sails. He's built a few of his own and was building a house. He told me a lot about emerging entertainment needs as more people who don't need to be near a city move to Bar Harbor and environs. They want to return to land less stifled by encroaching mechanism choke. He mentioned an auditorium and an imaginative jazz club in Bangor.
I was invited to visit several homes, Charlie Hutchins place in Cherryfield, Jim's at Bluefields and Donny's place in Damariscotta.

Donny needs a hand. He wants to die cause his back is a wreck thanks to a combat stint in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. His mother was one of the remnant Cherokees missed by Jackson's agents during the death march called the Trail of Tears. They lived in their cove cabin home over the years to watch their ancestors grave land drown beneath rising waters from Howard Baker's pork tub Tellico Dam. She died cursing the Euroids and I say, "Good for her!"

He wanted to die. Three discs removed and now they want to take out another. With inspired stinginess, the service only allows him partial disability status even though he can't lift more than twenty pounds. Before the war, he could make a forty-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. He even tried out for the Redskins.
He's played guitar for 21 years but now he can't stand to sing or play. His life's flame is at a low glow. I tried to encourage him to fight the Beast. Why make it easier for them by dying? I urged him to sue the Corps for full disability.

What the fuck! I know useless slobs who have chiseled five to six figure insurance fraud incomes over far more dubious mishaps. I told him about Harvard's Native American Law Project and about the encouraging number of humane Vietnam Era veterans now entering Congress.

I offered to introduce him to Gordon and Rounder in order to provide more reasons. I suggested he look up the history of the Five Civilized Nations. His response brought the house down. "I tried but it's so sad while the history of the invaders is so bright and upbeat, I couldn't stand to read anymore".

Oh well. I told him how the five nations and the northern nations refrained from significant warfare with the Continentals while the issue was in doubt. This was one of General Washington's main fears. I told him about the Mohawk Longhouse Council and how it gave Benjamin Franklin useful ideas for framing the Constitution.
This seemed to encourage him. I can hope so anyway. He gave me a feather work as an honor token and resolved to spend the day looking for turquoise to work for its healing properties. I told him about Nyah Nyah finding more reasons to write it. It'll be a fat heap of bile and spleen to climb by the time I begin, maybe in the coming year.

The steelworker and the consultant both had stories about shipbuilding.

The steelworker complained about management's attempt to introduce a two-tier wage system, reduce health coverage and cut wages by ten percent. The first two items were the worst. Tiered wages erode a union's unity and insurance coverage is vital in a calling as hazard prone as shipbuilding.
The consultant told me most federal contracts at Bath are now met on time and at cost as a result of accounting and award procedure improvements such as commissioning several ships at once, instead of one. He thought Bath was weakest at landing commercial design and building contracts.

The average commercial contract is for three ships a year and Bath is lucky to finish 2.7. This is exacerbated by fairly primitive drafting requirements. They rarely use more than six blueprints and about a three inch keel thickness overall, (that's commercial, not federal). Pretty amazing when you consider the truckload of blueprints it takes to specify an F-16.

The consultant also cared about music and had an avid interest in my description of funding programs in Massachusetts like "New Works" and "Heritage". The components for a vivacious life are certainly there.
Maine will always be one of my favorite places. If I don't abandon America, I'll try to be a geezer in a small house on some Downeast neck near the Heath. That will cover my need for contact with the world beyond shopping malls. There, "outside" is a term endowed with meaning. Even the cities are a break from stupid Boston and drab New York. People are kinder, more distinct and tend to be more in tune with the essentials.

I'd also rather wander here than merely visit another country. It's as foreign as I need a place to be without the nuisance of a passport. It's as close as New England gets to frontier with a visible, if low profile, Native American population.

And, of the outdoors... everyone should try just once to forget Time and live by sun cycles. Walk naked in thick bog underbrush for a while and you'll understand why animals are 'graceful'. One needs grace to move easily through thickets without getting scratched and cut. Clothes were on of our earliest abstractions to numb our touch of the actual world. Knowledge of woodcraft sharpens perception, especially senses of sound and smell, which become guides instead of mere entertainers.