Summer has arrived in Maine, and we’re still here, alive and vaccinated.

I picked this town to finish up my career, because She grew up here. And when She described it, I said, “Hey, that sounds like Bedford Falls, that little town from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.'”

“It’s got a river flowing through it,” She said, “and a bridge, and crickets and fireflies in the summer, and colored leaves in the fall, and snow at Christmas.”

I loved that. It fit my fantasy script of growing old gracefully.

As most of you have suspected, I came here under the witness protection system.

You see, as we were packing up old books in the months before we left, I discovered four books that were two years overdue from the Beverly Hills Public Library.

So I gift-wrapped them and in the middle of the night, on the way to the train, while She kept the engine running; I left them on the steps of the library and ran. Whew! They’re probably still looking for Clark Gable, the name I took the card out under. My mama didn’t raise no fool.

OK. I made that up. The truth would take too long.

It really doesn’t matter. I’m here, even though it no longer resembles Bedford Falls.

But I didn’t come here for the weather or to walk in the woods or forage for mushrooms. I came because it was billed as “Elm City.”

I grew up in a quiet tree-lined street where our entire block was lined with gorgeous elm trees. I wanted a town like that.

As luck would have it, the elms started dying when I was about 6. So I spent the rest of those summer nights in my early childhood being seduced by Rosemary DeBranco and watching trees die.

That ended my interest in nature — not in Rosemary, just nature. Of course, Rosemary did teach me all I needed to know about human nature. I won’t go into that now.

Here in the former “Elm City,” I quickly learned all I needed to know about nature from colleagues in this paper.

I learned more than I needed to know about the many kinds of spiders that live in my house from reading Dana Wilde.

I learned the history of log rolling on the Kennebec from Amy Calder’s father, and how to tell a deer from a moose and a fox from a pit bull, from the beloved late nature writer George Smith. That was all I needed.

So it’s July, and She and I, fully needled up, plan to enjoy a brand new summer of delights.

That’s the title of the article in a food magazine I read at my doctor’s office. And honestly, I don’t see where we fit in with any of them.

It describes dining out with other needled up friends on your deck or patio.

But the idea of swatting mosquitoes and gnats, choking on barbecue smoke, has lost its charm.

As I write this, the Fourth of July is coming up with all the fuss and fury that holiday evokes.

She and I have discussed how to get a little bit of our childhood summer memories into play.

We’re thinking a luncheon of Orange Crush, watermelon, popcorn, grape popsicles, and streaming “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Wake us when it’s over.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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