The snow is thickening white on evergreen boughs outside every window. Finished A Small Town in Germany the other night. This is a book about those alive vs. the living dead. A book about the caring, cautious careerist vs. the-career-is-for-something-larger. In this instance justice. Not as part of something called true-justice-and-the-American-way, not even social justice, but the individual alone with Justice. One working who is not lukewarm. In this novel those in a position to aid him, to do justice, are lukewarm, cautious … and not even because they care so much about their careers (though once they cared a great deal). The “career caution” has brought them to a spiritual state—spiritual malaise. In le Carré’s book, the characters most alive are not comfortable.
Why did God decide to share his life—or maybe energy—with pride?
Reading Klemperer: The Language of the Third Reich. An historical observation of his: that all the tricks of Mussolini were converted without much change to Nazi Germany. The reverse of my supposal over the years. Theatrical, rhetorical, photographic and other tricks for crowd arousal and propaganda. “The ‘Fuhrer’ was translated from “Il Duce” into German . . . . They wanted leaders in direct contact with the people, sans representation. p.46
Friday, January 4, 2008. -4° upon waking. Make coffee 6:30 a.m., Allen makes the fire. Breakfast on thin German bread and one fried egg. We have butter. Allen to the dentist. Below zero so I change my mind about snowshoeing at the airport while they work on him. I stay home vacuuming rugs, sweeping the yellow pine floors with dust mop and broom; wash the towels and Allen’s clothes. Throw them into the dryer.
The mill is centerpiece, a steaming cauldron amid built up blocks — the town within the town — its great gray monolith partly obscured in self-generated mist and moving cloud. But now R. was working there, the migrant success story. After living rurally, here is when and where I begin to realize the Catholic culture, the inner unspoken grace that Monica Wood gives creative tongue to in When We Were the Kennedys. Our landlady was Catholic, and her family of older resident women, were from New Brunswick — French — and one was a nun. This is all I had to go on, for otherwise Catholicism in Rumford/Mexico wasn’t spoken of.
Another Maine Metaphor is coming out, this one with a seasonal focus, Maine In Winter. But today I’m essaying about a neighboring town and author, in part because of personal connections with the town. The town is Mexico, Maine.
Going home through Franconia Notch, my spouse and I watched the great Whites rising like an apparition glimpsed between darker mountainous slopes. This whiteness—befitting the name of the range—was rime ice, crusting bold surfaces, before disappearing a day or two later. Then we searched for the telltale contour of Agiocochook, as Native Abenakis fitly named the greatest for its vast white summit: The Snowy Forehead.
Of these Presidentials Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Let us forget the other names of American statesmen that have been stamped upon these hills, but still call the loftiest Washington. Mountains are Earth’s undecaying monuments.”
Summer to fall we may have brief encounters with creatures, with Maine beasts. In winter this snowshoer came upon blood, two scattered bone-fulls of deer—a coyote feast—in woods next door to her house. This happened here a few winters ago. We have a variety of critter encounters.
The phoebe-bug-spider observation. A phoebe in-flight drove some bug, maybe a moth, into one of several great webs, then backed off as a giant spider began feverishly winding its prey. —But the bug escaped! The phoebe gave chase, snatched it back, flit across to the powerline, perched, and swallowed it! I stood at the porch door looking through the screen, watching this web and drama. Surprised.
Ruth Moore’s Maine 1950’s small-town characters enter The Walk Down Main Street individually. At first it’s a parade. Then they take up residence together for us in interacting, unfolding their relations, within community. This is a novel in which yare (yeah), gaumy (gormy), and they (their or there) might signify the peculiar Downeast accent.
Martin Hoodless we meet first, quintessential hard-working stubborn judgmental curmudgeonly “old Mainer.” Hoodless is in the egg production business, built from ground upwards and finally debt-free (for the second time). The crank thinks the town’s preoccupation with basketball, and its team in particular, is worthless. (That sentiment is not quintessential Maine.)