Is it lucky for me that I don’t have to drive much? I think maybe. Sometimes (often) I miss the Forest for the Trees. No matter how you slice it, New England has beautiful roads- emphatically not because of the pavement. But for the heart of the matter the drag cuts through.
Oftener than I like to admit, I have to stop, breathe and remind myself not to become my father – grumbling at the audacity of a country bus driver doing their job. The curse of the eternal middle class. “Don’t they know time is money?” As if the bus driver hasn’t got to clutch his pearls whenever the taxman cometh.
Still it goes. I was stuck behind a bus, after going so far as to realise my favourite hick owned filling station had all been ripped up. Mood: dour. As I stared into back of the bus, there was a gaggle (murder?) of highschool girls. They point, they chatter. Finally they wave. Well, the wavy haired blonde one does – and the redheads and brunettes follow suit. I wave back and smile. I called their bluff and spoilt their game. Nobody waves anymore, society doesn’t have that kind of trust. They stare a moment, giggle and go back to their (I’m sure) enthralling conversation.
This was on the Buxton Drag, moving toward the stretch of farmland and such. There’s a truck out there that used to have a Trump campaign sign painted on it, now it just says ‘Merica. There are two cornfields where the fog gathers and rolls out into the street. There’s yard sales about, closest we’ll come to barter for awhile.
You could turn around and go back, track through Standish. There’s an unspoken sign and flag war about. It all started a year or two ago when some pampered asshole from Away moved in and started putting rainbows where they don’t belong. That being anywhere, in case it wasn’t clear. Some old gummers got up before the early bird and took them down. They had this mistaken notion that this is New England and they have freedom of speech, or whatever. Anyway, the kvetching was hot and heavy. They dug up Alex Trebek for to ask the one million dollar question; “what is bullshit, for 5,000.” The “story” went that some brave LTBBQ+PMS=OMFG was awoken at night by a dude in a woodchipper sawn off red flannel vest with a chain saw talking shit that sounded an awful lot like it came from Jessi Smullet’s leaked sex diary. Pfft. Not to be deterred, because they’re old and have old folk privilege, Proto-Boomer Waffen continued tasting the rainbow and spitting it out. Gods love them. The Town passed a law. Thus the flag and sign war. Legally forbidden from taking signs, they started putting up BLM (blue lives matter) flags, and all the other paramilitary lives matter colours – over the f(l)ags. The rainbows would appear on top. Samsara ensyed. Eventually the Gadsden Flags started coming with the Betsies. There were some Dixie flags for awhile, and they’re still out there in the styx where code enforcement don’t go. Out toward the town lines going toward New Hampshire is mega MAGA country. It kinda hurts a little to see, when you think of how badly dissapointed the townies must be. But there’s a spirit of something approximating Old New England that the goddamn dirty hippies and outta staters haven’t pissed away. Yet.
But you do, you pick up stories wherever you go. Speaking of flags, I see a lot of them. Not just the somewhat less optimistic than I’d like yet nevertheless ubiquitous reminder of things that is the Weimerican Flag, mind. I see a lot of National flags too. My kind of foreign. Just the other day on my work drag I saw a Rampart Lion and Scotch Saltire, at first I thought they were half mast but the next day it dawned on me they were part of a practise for the Highland Games. There’s another house I see with a Norwegian flag, there’s five Svenskebrogs floating around. Nothing Danish other than street names, but there’s a handful of Danneroads. In Portland there hang banners of the Bundesrepublik, and oddly enough in Biddeford. Then you have Irish Flags, the tripartite colours mostly, but a few diehard potatoes hang the Goddess high. (Good for them. ot that it matters what I think, but the Erin go Bragh banner is more pleasing to my eye. Flew one myself until I decided my Irish friend deserved it more than I.) Anywho. I also see *our* flag, being the Red Flag of New England. Mostly the Pinetree variant. And of course, Maine flags. The “original Maine” flag has caught on, but I see the bonny blue State Seal I grew up with. Some folks fly the bicentennial flag, and I hate it. It’s repugnant. My point is that as the ubiquitous and morally bankrupt LTBBQ-Don’t-Taze-Me flags increase in yield, these more or less traditional flags crop up.
And then there’s art. Real art, not Jeff Foxworthy tier “yard art” (literal junk.) You see Venuses of various stripes, Greenman plaques, European heraldric lions guarding gardens. I’ve seen things approximating Dutch hex signs on old barns in the boonies. Real implicit stuff. The kind of stuff that doesn’t fit in the Globo-Homo mould. And not just material culture, I see neighbours helping neighbours. I see volunteers cleaning parks. There’s shreds of us left. The fire’s not gone, we have embers to stoke.
It pays to keep things like this in mind.