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Pandemic musings

The news that more than a dozen Belfast Area High School students have tested positive for COVID-19, with more than 50 other students in quarantine because of close contact with them, saddens us all. Now people we know have tested positive as well. It brings home that even after a year and a half, this terrible illness is still in and near Searsmont. So we are wearing masks, limiting trips to Amanda’s in the village and Hannaford, wondering if an out-of-state family visit will have to be postponed (for the third time), and staying closer to home. At least the stunning fall foliage is a comfort.

Town Office and upcoming election

Searsmont polls will be open at the Community Building Tuesday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots need to be received by the time polls close. Referendum question 3 is a state constitution “food freedom” amendment. If it succeeds, Mainers will “have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to food, including “to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being” as long as they respect private and state property.

Supporters say the amendment does not restrict or prevent oversight and regulation of commercial processing and distribution of foods and “protects the rights of every Mainer to decide the source and nutritional values of the foods that they consume.”

Opponents say the amendment language is vague and far-reaching, gives international food companies license to do whatever they want to our food, strips away agricultural animal welfare standards and “takes away the power of local governments to provide proper health and safety, anti-pollution, and zoning standards.”

The choice on three referendum questions is yours, Searsmonters, so get out and vote.

Want to help Searsmont Rescue? They are applying to the Maine Board of Emergency Medical Services for a permit to provide ground transport and care at a higher level on some calls. According to Rescue, “there is no change to the way the public requests services.” To support this, mail your written comments by Nov. 12 to Maine EMS, 152 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0152.

Still life by Edith LaRoche on display at Searsmont Town Library. Courtesy of Searsmont Town Library

Town Library

Edith LaRoche’s art is now on the library walls. Her children Amy and Todd will host an opening reception Saturday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. Edith is well-remembered, and the show is varied and fascinating. Edith’s book “Stuffed: Animal Illustrations” is on sale, too.

Thursday, Nov. 4, is a busy day at the library. The Friends of the Searsmont Library holds its annual meeting at 4 p.m. (complete with library director, trustee and endowment updates), and at 5 p.m., Maine author Robert Bruce Coffin reads from his Detective Byron Mysteries. Eight people have joined the book club for discussion of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction/fantasy “Parable of the Sower.” You still have time to join the group at 342-5549.

The Oct. 16 walk led by Sarah Crosby and Bill Evans was rained out, alas. Their next hike is Saturday, Nov. 13, 9 a.m.

Bits and pieces

Three cheers for Allie, Searsmont’s postmaster and serious swimmer. She regularly swims across Lake Quantabacook and is still doing it in October. Heat wave? Global warming? We go for just amazing.

One more Thursday, Nov. 4 event: the Broadband Advisory Task Force meets at the Community Building, 6 p.m. (if they can find the room!) and we will have a report for you.

An unusually thick carpet of white pine needles in Searsmont this month. Photo by Mickey Sirota

Have you noticed Searsmont’s brown-topped white pines and heavy needle drop? According to the world’s greatest expert on this (there is one of for everything), it’s a natural process and does not mean the trees are dying or in trouble. Thank goodness. We were worried about those big trees near our house.