It's been over a year now that I left the subtropics for the subarctic. I can't help, occasionally, to ponder on all the 'who's' and 'what's' I left behind in the Lone Star State. It was an easy decision to return to Maine where I was needed. It was a heart-breaking process to say good-bye to my home and 'family' of 26 years.
In the true American spirit concerning converting lemons into lemonade I want to share with y'all the priceless gifts Maine has laid at my feet. According to statistics, Maine is the most forested state in the U.S. so I am always surrounded by green--which happens to be my favourite colour. It is deafeningly quiet so hearing myself think is never a problem. The over-all population is just over a million people and they are concentrated to the south of where I live. (Remember, Maine is roughly the size of Arkansas.) There were more cars in Houston than there are people in Maine. I can, if I choose, go days without encountering another human being--or a car. Every night and early morning in the non-snowy months there is a Wagnerian chorus of bullfrogs and crickets to entertain me. The days are filled with bird-song sonatas. In Texas I was serenaded by sirens, trains, car horns, and landing jets. I sleep on bed linens that have wafted dry in the pine scented open air--with no complaints from the neighbours. Did I mention that my nearest neighbours are deer, raccoons, red squirrels, the occasional moose, and elusive bob cats? Black bears and coyotes come to call after the snow has fallen but they're fairly respectful of my space. There are the rolling jagged peaks of the upper Appalachians everywhere I turn instead of miles and acres of asphalt and concrete. Every clear night is an astronomer's dream. I had forgotten there was more up there besides the Moon, Venus, and airplanes. I used to take all this grandeur for granted. Shame on me! But I suspect that the residents of Eden took it for granted until they had something else to compare it to.
Life is a mysterious and comical journey. I moved to Texas (Galveston Island) with two suitcases and being acquainted with only a couple of people who fell by the wayside soon after arrival. By the time I left Houston two and a half decades later I had a jumbo moving van filled to capacity and a 'family' of friends that gave tangible poignancy to departure. All but a handful of my 'children' were from somewhere other than Texas. Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Canada, India, Nebraska, Great Britain, and Michigan were their points of origin but they all converged seamlessly around my kitchen table. They were and are my crazy quilt of warmth and affection. How often I have gathered them up and wrapped them close about me when Maine hasn't been able to comfort me in the chilly darkness of my isolation. Come to think of it, all my ex-es live in Texas but none of them were from there. Texas gave me everything a person could want and need from life. Maine is teaching me to appreciate it. I am a happy camper.
So thank you, Jimmy Buffett, for those prophetic words that come back to me when I walk through the trees in search of the forest:
"It's those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes-
nothing remains quite the same;
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes-
nothing remains quite the same;
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands
if we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."
Here's hoping that all my Gentle Readers find a good, hearty laugh just around the corner!