As Eliza Doolittle might have put it, the rain in Maine stays plainly in my brain. Unlike yesterday's gale-force deluge, which howled and whistled into the night, today's rain is falling softly, like footsteps on moss. A light fog has settled on the bay in front of our house. As I look out, the mountains of Acadia National Park mysteriously appear and vanish, appear and vanish.
Clearly—or cloudily—weather is in the air today. On my walk to the computer I step over a pile of books we just obtained to sell at The Naturalist's Notebook; on top is The Weather Wizard's Cloud Book. I log on and read the first e-mail: Hope the floods and high tides aren't affecting you! (FYI, they aren't.) Then the first news story: On Global Warming, Scientists and TV Weathercasters Are at Odds (go to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/science/earth/30warming.html?partner=rss&emc=rss).
Maine is a perfect place to ponder weather, weathercasters and whether the weather will ever let up. The lingering wetness reminds me of a great line from George Carlin: "There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting." The cold rain here may dampen one of my favorite thoughts—the approach of baseball's opening day—but the Maine coast does look lovely in gray.
Indeed, Maine can claim one of the most famous meteorological lines ever written: "Into each life some rain must fall." True, it's not really about weather, but then, the global-warming debate is less about climate change than about politics, isn't it? (And perhaps also about the deep-seated belief among some that the weatherman can't possibly be wrong.)
But there is a bigger question here than whether the world is headed for climactic disaster. So let's ask it: Wasn't Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote that famous line about rain, actually from Massachusetts? The answer: Not if you see it from Maine's point of view.
Technically, Longfellow was born in Massachusetts. That's because, until Maine became a state in 1820 under the Missouri Compromise (the addition of Maine, where slavery was banned, balanced the addition of Missouri, where slavery was legal, in case you'd forgotten), what is now Maine was considered part of Massachusetts. But Longfellow grew up in Portland and went to college at Bowdoin (where he became friends with classmate Nathaniel Hawthorne, who, coincidentally, also spent part of his childhood living in the Maine territory). Not until his late 20s did Longfellow move to Cambridge, Mass., to become a professor at Harvard and turn into an American icon forever linked to the Bay State.
As for rain falling in his own life, Longfellow was plummeted into a deep depression as a young man when his wife, Mary, a Mainer whom he'd met in Portland, died during childbirth. His first epic poem, Evangeline, was a tale of loss set amid Britain's forced expulsion from today's Canadian maritime provinces of the French-descended Acadians (today's Louisiana Cajuns) who'd settled both that region and part of Maine. In effect, those same people ultimately gave Acadia National Park its name—though that's a story in itself.
Perhaps one to save for a rainy day.
Did You See…
…the debut of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last Friday on ABC? It was compelling TV—reality television about the cold reality of America's terrible eating habits. We at the Notebook are big supporters of sustainable agriculture and of eating fresh, healthful, pesticide-free, locally grown food. Oliver, the British chef who rose to popularity on The Food Network, deserves applause for trying to do something in the face of obstacles that would be comical if they weren't so sad. Tune in for the next episode this Friday, April, 2 at 9 p.m. And check out http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution.