It is supposed to get cold this week, very very cold. In fact, Sunday is supposed to drop to 12°! That's 20° below freezing, or -11° for you Celsius fans. Of course, I doubt it will get that cold because the five day weather forecast out here stinks. Hell, even the right now weather is off. It's supposed to be dropping below freezing as we speak, but I just walked my dog out there and couldn't even see my breath. It's in the mid-forties for sure. I'm more then certain that it will be cold. I'm in far eastern Maine, the fact that my toes are still intact this late in December is flukey if not downright miraculous. Still, it's like this every week, I check the forecast and then toss it out the window because it's off in every sense. If it says it's gonna rain, it's sunny. If it says it's sunny, the sun has died and we are propelled into a nightmarish world of perpetual darkness.
There are some interesting behaviors around here that I'm not sure are part of a larger tradition that I am unaware of or is only local. Since Thanksgiving a large number or people and businesses have put single electric candles in each window. Normally I would take minimal notice of this kind of thing, but when it started popping up around town like a virus I couldn't help but spot it. Every window, one candle. I've never seen that before. I'm guessing it's a New England thing, something from way back that the rest of us Americans have forgotten in our haste to move West.
Another interesting thing people do around here is only live in the back of their houses. I'm serious. A lot of the houses around here are quite large and consist of three distinct parts. There is the front, original part, the back, used-to-be-a-carriage-house-but-now-converted part, and the part added later to connect the two. At night around here every house front is dark, but, if you walk around, there is a single window in the most back corner possible lit up. Just tonight I passed a house that I pass almost every night with my dog that I swore has been empty the entire time I've been here. I've never seen any signs of life from that house, no activity, no cars out front, and definitely no lights. Tonight I came upon it from a different angle then normal and sure enough, one back window lit.
The only thing I can think of is that the older parts of the houses around here are poorly insulated so people stick to the back, between the carriage house and the facade, where the newer construction might be more warm. The other idea I had was that it's possible that, since most of these houses were built before 1910, there is a sort of Victorian idea that the front of the house is for entertaining guests, while the back is more of the common family area. Whatever the case I really can't stand it. I know, it's an odd and sort of callous way to feel, but the only effect that all this rear-of-the-house living does for me is make every single building around here appear abandoned. There's just no life around here at night because, instead of having a house that looks warm and occupied, everything is dark and empty, like a dead city.
And one more callous thing I shouldn't hate but do. People around here are way to quick to stop and let you cross the street. Maybe it's all the years I spent in a city, but people are just way too polite in that regard around here. They even stop when you have no intention to cross, and then they honk at you to let you know they've stopped. I can't count the times I've been paying attention to my dog sniffing someone's yard, not even looking at the road, only to be honked at. And then I look over and the person in the car is waving me across, as if every person on a sidewalk who has stopped walking only did so to cross. My dog stops, I stop. Unless I'm looking impatient at a crosswalk I don't need anyone to let me by. I appreciate it when it's needed, like there's a huge line of cars and I won't have a chance to cross unless some kind person stops for me, but if you are the only person on the road, even if I am obviously interested in crossing, just go ahead and pass, I can wait the extra four seconds, I'm gonna wait in anyway just to make sure you plan on coming to a complete stop.
I know I know, how can these things bug me. It's always the little things with me. It doesn't bother me at all that the grant I'm supposed to get from the school still hasn't come through and my tuition remains unpaid until it does. It doesn't bother me that all this warm weather is probably the result of global warming and in five years this city will be under glacier-based water. It doesn't bother me that I've been craving (and indulging) an unhealthy amount of sugar lately. But people stopping to let me cross the street? Those bastards.