Don't judge on appearances

Black Road South in Searsport. The Searsport chief of police came to my home to inform me he had three complaints about my sitting in a car on Black Road. He said it was “strange and you are making people nervous.” Well, every town has its peculiar characters, and I guess now I’m one.

If my beard were a longer white, then my 68-year-old, 5-foot, 3-inch chubby frame would look more like Santa than Jack the Ripper. Perceptions, as with first impressions, form our initial reactions, and apparently I resemble the dirty old man more than the jolly fat guy.

So why am I sitting on your road? I could say, its being a town road, I have every right to do so. While, true, that explains nothing and immediately produces an adversarial response. The fact is, people enjoy having a spot where one can sit in the sun, read the newspaper or book, see an occasional deer, hear no traffic, put the seat back, listen to an audio book, or just relax, leaving life behind, if only for a short time. And being very close to my home explains only part of my “strange” behavior.

Once I would toss on a backpack, hiking the proverbial hill and dale for days on end. I climbed trees as an arborist and spent hundreds of hours in the woods for timber stand improvement and wildlife habitat development. But as a result of all that, I can no longer walk. A stroll in the woods now would result in my crawling out or becoming kibble for the woodland critters.

So now my little car does the walking.

Sitting at the town wharf or Sears Island causeway is OK, but sometimes I just want to be surrounded by trees in a place I feel secure in closing my eyes for a doze in the sun. We all have false perceptions. Perhaps that is part of our problem in today’s world.

So if you see me about town, oddly sitting somewhere, I promise there are no meat cleavers in my back seat and it's been years since I’ve eaten small children. Stop and say hi. Who knows, maybe we might be surprised, and just possibly, make a few new friendships.

Michael Vallier


Belfast Dump, Two days after Christmas

No mean-eyed junkyard dogs here. Just the happiest

dump keepers in the world, golden retrievers

greeting you eagerly

as you pull in with a carload of trash,

asking cheerfully

if you need help with that,

looking you in the eye

as they hand over the yellow “paid” stickers,

and if you don’t have your wallet, no problem,

they’ll catch you later. Especially today,

two days after the trashiest holiday of the year,

with plates of cookies from satisfied customers

and job security: mountains of cardboard boxes backed up

all the way to the chute door, the compacter uncompacted,

a steady stream of Santa-delivered unrecycleables.

These folks know the true meaning of abundant joy —

sort, toss, smile, say “yes” to everything,

pick out one or two treasures for later.

Linda Buckmaster


Editor's note: Linda Buckmaster was Belfast's poet laureate, 2009-2011.

Just save time and trouble

I have a suggestion for the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Belfast Planning Board.

Next time a big multinational corporation like Nordic Aquafarms wants to spew 7.7 million gallons of effluent a day into Belfast Bay, and threaten our water supply by devouring 630,000,000 gallons of water a year from our aquifer and watershed, and threaten Belfast Bay fisheries and tourism by dredging up settled industrial mercury, and destroy a hiking trail and dozens of acres of mature forest, wetlands and wildlife habitat — all for the benefit of distant executives, stockholders and upscale consumers — why not just roll out the red carpet and rubber-stamp the project on day one and save everyone the time, trouble and expense of your farcical permitting circus?

Lawrence Reichard