Old-timers. Man, they’re a drag.

They whine about the Internet taking over everything, everyone staring at their phones instead of engaging in conversation, nowhere to get a haircut and shave for two bits anymore.

And everything has to be all bright and shiny and blinking and electric. Plain old solid just doesn’t work for people anymore.

It seems to me one of those anti-change curmudgeons even wrote in this space about a year and a half ago lamenting the demise of the old familiar green State House dome in favor of the bright new copper one.

I think it was the very person who wears the same pair of flannel-lined Carhartt pants all winter because they’re so comfortable.

Because that’s why we don’t like change, isn’t it? It’s all nice and cozy and comfortable to have the same things around us all the time.

There’s nothing wrong with that, either. If you’ve lived in Augusta for any number of years, the dome is like an old friend. Old comfortable friends are good to have, especially in times of uncertainty and trouble.

Yes, I’ll ‘fess up. It was me who wrote that column a while back griping about the shiny new coat the dome was going to get.

I wrote, “It’s there like a friendly sentinel — whether you’re driving east on Western Avenue, tooling around the east side or coming down Sand Hill — nestled in among the city’s granite and clapboards, solid and strong.”

Because of the dome’s size and the city’s topography, it’s always popping up, not only in Augusta, but a number of places along the river from Richmond to Sidney. Take a look along the river toward Augusta, and there’s the dome.

Solid, unassuming, always there.

I meant it, too. I grew up in Augusta, practically in the shadow of the State House, and when I returned after 30 years away, I was surprised at the sense of peace and welcome I got from seeing the pale green dome. The thought it wouldn’t be that familiar touchstone made me uneasy. Like I was losing something.

And when the work first started and the dome was covered in an ugly web of scaffolding, I felt a little self-satisfied vindication mixed in with the loss.

But then as the new scaffolding slowly worked its way down the dome and the copper emerged, something funny began to happen.

When the dome popped up, the way it always does, it didn’t just solidly sit there like the old dome. It glowed.

Hard to look away? Heck, I didn’t want to look away. I was smitten.

I realized it was true love about a month ago when I was driving over the “new” bridge. You know, the one that didn’t used to be there back in the days when you had to drive through the city to get to Route 3.

Officially, it’s the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge (I think), but I’m pretty sure just like no one calls the little bridge The Old Fort Western City Hall Extravaganza or whatever its name is, no one calls the new bridge anything but the new, or Route 3, bridge. Or sometimes the third bridge. But not the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge.

The best thing about the new bridge is the view south. Next time you’re driving across, slow down to about 60 and take a look, like I always do. The view of downtown Augusta and the State House is breathtaking.

And one day a month or so ago, a bright penny day when foliage was at its peak, I took a look down the river and the copper dome winked back.

Holy cow. Hello, beautiful.

The old, comfy things are great. But sometimes we need to be jolted a little to remind us that times change and the world turns. And sometimes the new stuff can get you right in the gut just as hard as the old stuff did.

That green dome was as comfortable as a childhood blanket.

The new one, though, gave me a jolt of pride and a little bit of awe. It reminds us that the past was comfy, but there are good things ahead. We’re still here and will be for a while. That’s a pretty cool feeling.

Back when we first heard the dome was going to get its new copper, a few readers of the Kennebec Journal asked me and others who worked here if the little green dome in the banner on our front page was going to change, too.

Nah, we said at the time. It’s more about the icon, that landmark symbol of Augusta, than a depiction of reality.

But you know what?

We’ve got really good things ahead. We’re still here and we will be for a while. And that’s pretty cool, too.

So if you are reading this in the Kennebec Journal, take another look at the banner on page A1.

Hello, beautiful.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03

Maureen Milliken is news editor of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Email her at [email protected]. Twitter: mmilliken47. Kennebec Tales is published the first and third Thursday of the month.


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