Friday, October 28, 2011

The waiting game

Let me begin with a correction: The other church about a block away from the Catholic one is a Congregationalist church, not a Baptist one. And I do believe it is the older one since the house directly across from it has a plaque denoting that the lot was the location of the house of the first minister in Machias which was back in the 18th century. So, points to you, Congregationalists.

The oldest extant building in town is Burnham Tavern, just a couple of doors down from me, which was built in 1770. It's a very significant building in American history. Don't remember if I mentioned this before but it's the sight where the colonists planned out the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War. They were led by a man named Jeremiah O'Brien who later became a captain in the Massachusetts navy, and is very much of a hero in Machias. A lot of roads and buildings, and even a fort are named after him, not to mention a bunch of American naval ships over the years. Not sure how much of the building is original, probably not a lot, though the outer walls do appear to be leaning outward and it looks like the roof is going to collapse downward if that continues. It has been well kept up though, there's a museum inside (closed for the season) so they must keep it in good repair. I don't know, but I do look forward to it opening again in Spring.

There are a lot of little treasures to be found around town. Yesterday, Hastur and I were finishing up our walk in the little park by the river (which smelled like a rotting sulfur plant) when she found this little overgrown path. It was definitely a path, but it looked like no one had walked on it in a very long time. As we walked I noticed another little side path going up a hill. As I followed it with my eyes I saw it led to a little cemetery. Now I knew this wasn't the main cemetery in town as I've walked through that many times. Little secret, if you want to find a cemetery in any town, go to the highest point. No, this was some other cemetery, but the graves were as old at least as the ones in the other cemetery. I took Hastur that way wanting to explore this new find. You know whose graves they were? Jeremiah O'Brien and his brothers. They were perched on the backside of this hill in a yard. Jeremiah's grave had a fresh American flag planted on it, so someone, I assume the owners of the home whose yard these graves were in, still kept up the little cemetery. There were other graves too, but I didn't want to go traipsing around some stranger's backyard so I took Hastur back towards home.

It was another beautiful day this morning, yesterday was overcast all day, so I decided to take Hastur east on our walk. Normally in the mornings we follow the Down East Sunrise Trail, which I believe just follows the now defunct railroad tracks that used to go around the town. Every morning we've headed west, up into the wooded hills. Saw a large pack of deer, all does, yesterday. So today we went east, towards the ocean. Not sure if the trail ever makes it to the ocean proper or just winds farther north, we never really made it that far, but the way we did take followed right up against the river, which smelled far less at this point. It was bright and cold and I let Hastur off leash, finally, so she could enjoy herself a little. She really took advantage of it a couple of times, running through the grass after invisible animals.

I have a theory about the river stink. The top soil around here is very sandy and loose, but under that is a very thick layer of what is nearly peat, very compact mildewy compressed grasses, leaves, and assorted other biologicals. AS the river eats into the lower layer it must take with it a lot of bacteria just waiting for some oxygen to bloom. And once bloomed it must go crazy on all of wood and iron and petroleum and any other things in the river worth eating which creates a huge amount of methane and other caustic smelling gases. I have seen two things in the river that lead me to this conclusion. One is the large rust colored blooms that are covering all the rocks and logs in the river and staining the water orange. These are the same sorts of mats you see in Yellowstone where the water is cool enough to encourage bacterial growth. The other thing I've been seeing is a lot of foam. You get foam from agitating water full of dead and dying microbes, or industry, but there isn't a whole lot of industry on the Machias river, not a whole lot of people along the Machias river, so I think it's the microbes.

It's such a nice day I wish I could take Hastur to the beach, especially because I can't be sure just how many more days like this there will be, but I also can't afford to miss my furniture, should it come. I'd go anyway and hope to catch their call and race back except I barely get any service in my home where the signal is strongest in town, so there's no way I'm getting any call at the beach. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to share my sleeping bag with Hastur, and she takes most of it believe me. I could really use a bed right about now.


  1. Believe it or not, I know from my U.S. history lessons who Jeremiah O'Brien was. How amazing. Machias sounds fascinating. Hope your bed arrives soon.

  2. What you are describing for the river may be marine clay: stinky and useless. I don't know if they are still sctive there but down here until last week we still had the horrible deer and dog ticks. eer ticks carry lyme disease (town in CT where it was first diagnosed) deer ticks are the size of a freckle. Ask the natural food store owner about them she is sure to know. They are a problem from April to October and are esp found in the long unmown grasses. The flag on the grave: usually all veteran's graves receive a flag at least on veterans day and memorial day. Usually bought by the municipality and set out by the VFW or AmVets. Sometimes the boy scouts help.
    Maine was Massachusetts until it became a state in 1825. The papers were signed in the Jamison Tavern up the road from my place in Freeport. Seems like much of what went on happened in Taverns. Altho when the settlers arrived they were amazed they could drink the water and not die. In Europe and the UK and still here Beer or other spirits were had with most meals. Often it was a weaker beer called small beer.
    I want to say that Congregationalists were the puritans as the expanded. They did not allow for holidays like Christmas and holiday decorations. I used to work at a historic house museum as a volunteer and board member and docent.

    Oh, get yourself and the dog something Safety orange if you go for walks it is Hunting season now and in smaller towns shooting is allowed as long as you are at least certain distance from a house. Dogs and people are killed every year. One woman was killed hanging laundry- the hunter's defense was that her white mittens looked like the tail of a deer.