CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE

Loving our Maine summer, despite the rats in the pantry

Posted Aug. 26, 2014, at 6:09 p.m.
Solitude on the Maine coast in the summer.
Robin Clifford Wood
Solitude on the Maine coast in the summer.
Robin Clifford Wood
BDN File Photo
Robin Clifford Wood

I have never worried much about those little scratchings and scurryings that I occasionally hear from my bed on a summer night. It’s all part of the peaceful soundtrack of summer in Maine.

“There goes some cute furry thing, living its little life,” I think to myself, smiling.

Last week, however, while we were out of town, the cute furry things made their intentions clear: full-scale dominion and total havoc. On returning we found our pantry floor strewn with chewed-open boxes of cereal, pasta, rice and crackers.

A package of dog treats stuck halfway out of a crack in the wall, where one ambitious critter evidently gave up dragging it off and just ate the contents where they lay.

I’ve dealt with mice plenty of times, but mice don’t topple large boxes of cornflakes off the shelf. Their scurry doesn’t sound quite so much like galloping in the ceiling. They don’t chew fist-sized holes in the sheetrock.

We had rats. A lot of rats.

That wasn’t our only summertime invasion. As we waded through the clean-up process we discovered an infestation of meal moths — in the cornmeal, the Bisquick, the chocolate powder.

Then I reached for a handful of blackberries, freshly picked in our backyard, and a cloud of fruit flies rose up around my hand.

Blecch! Enough with summer. Bring on the first freeze!

OK, I admit to a couple of grumpy rants. Our gruesome intermammalian battle is in full swing, and even when we’re winning it makes me a little sad. Brown rats are, after all, just some furry things trying to live their little lives.

They just happened to make an unfortunate neighborhood selection, in the place where I am trying to live my little life. At the current population density, negotiations are over. Cohabitation is off the table (because the rats are not).

In my defeated state of gloom, I decided that I needed an injection of positive thinking. A part of me remained aware, even in the face of marauding vermin, of the riches of summer in Maine.

We spend so many months buttoned up and battened down against the cold, which makes these weeks of bright days, lush blooms and sultry breezes all the more intoxicating.

With time to linger in the open air, feeling the grass on our feet and the sun on our skin, we absorb Maine’s phenomenal beauty from coast to mountain to lake to rolling farmlands, and we don’t wonder why so many people make their long treks from far away to be here during the summer months.

Still, there are times when we need a boost from our friends to see the bright side of things, so I sent out a call: What do you love about summer in Maine?

Here is what our friends said:

Jeni: “Hiking anywhere the scent of salt air and pine co-mingle.”

Renee: “I love all of the different festivals … blueberry, lobster, clam, folk. There is always something fun to do that does not cost anything.”

Kathryn: “Rock climbing in Acadia. I learn things about myself that I can’t learn any other way, and see things from uniquely beautiful angles and perspectives.”

Jon: “The very long days, calling you to wake up early and do something outdoors … and that earned feeling of being tired because you were more active in those longer days.”

Anna: “Sweaters at night!”

Dana: “Cranberry mail boat and Islesford museum as a stop off … picnic unless the restaurant is still open.”

Donna: “Coffee on the porch at sunrise. Wine on the boat at sunset. Perfect day at Cold Stream Pond!”

Susan: “Lobsters. And all the woodworkers up there in Maine.”

Barbara: “As a transplant now living in Florida, what first comes to mind are hummingbirds and rose-breasted grosbeaks, lobster and all the berries … strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries … and walks at Seawall.”

Christina: “Starry nights and fireflies, farmers markets and the colors of dark blue and green.”

Thanks, everybody. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll try to keep all that in mind as I return reluctantly to the job at hand in the basement.

Rats.

Robin Clifford Wood welcomes feedback at robin.everyday@gmail.com.

 

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