If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that I live within sight of the place where I was born and brought up.

And if you’ve ever asked me how I feel about new neighbors moving in, you’ve heard me say, “Well – the Tolman family didn’t get here until 1757 – but I still go out of my way to make them feel welcome.”

Before pelting me with lint balls, please remember that I am proud of my village and its heritage, probably like you and everyone else we have ever met. Years ago a taxi driver in Athens looked over his shoulder and said to me, “This is the coldest winter we have had in this town in 2,500 years.”

If your forebears elbowed the original inhabitants out of Falmouth, you might, if pressed, drop your head and quietly admit to being a 10th-generation Mainer.

How often have you picked up a book, to read on the back cover that the author is a 12th-generation Mainer? Have you ever pondered the difference between the 10th generation and the fifth generation?

They might both be descended from the very same ancestor. But one branch might have bred like fruit flies. My great-grandfather, on the other hand, was a bit slack in attending to his household chores and was 42 when my grandfather was born in 1860. My grandfather didn’t have a child until 1916, which is not fair to status-conscious folks in a society that determines pedigree by the number of generations a family has paid taxes on a piece of property.

Have you seen your neighborhood change over the past 70 years? If you live on the coast, you might not know some of the people now living within a mile of you. You didn’t go to school with them, so who they are, when they got here and where they got $750,000 to build that cottage on the ocean is a mystery.

When one started school in St. George 75 years ago, most neighbors were distant cousins, many times over, all descended from the handful who moved in 200 or so years before.

Nowadays, a score of years is a reasonable amount of time between generations. You can see this at the baked bean suppers at the St. George Grange, where small children run about the tables.

Even though he has never seen these children before, upon learning who they are, a maudlin old Maine man might think: “What nice little kids. Their great-great-great-grandfather was Henry Ewell. He was very good to me when I was a kid. His wife was one of my third cousins. I liked Henry. He used to let me ride with him in his ’37 Chevy panel when he delivered groceries.

“One day, when he left me alone and carried groceries in to Aunt Grace, I got behind the wheel and pushed on the clutch. Rolled down the driveway. Must have scared Henry to death. Anyone who could have tolerated me when I was 8 had a heart of gold.

“Cy Hilt was your great-great-great-grandfather, too. Second cousin to my mother. Giant of a man, partial to well-worn plaid Woolrich hunting shirts. I can still see him leaning up against the ice cream freezer in Henry’s store, nursing the last juicy bit of comfort out of some Day’s Work.

“Cy wouldn’t sell me his ’34 Chevrolet because I had such a bad reputation as a driver, so my buddy Bruno got it. Thirty-five dollars. Bruno and I got it up to 75 going down that steep hill on Buttermilk Lane. No seat belts. How does any boy live to see his 50th birthday?

“I bet I’m related to those little kids 12 or more different ways.”

Many of our newer neighbors attend our Grange suppers. They are held in a building my grandfather helped build over 100 years ago.

Many of us performed on stage there when we were 5. When we were 15, we turned out the lights and danced there in the dark. Every square inch of the building has a memory. We can still hear the voice of Lou Robinson, the old caretaker, telling us that it was time to dry Johnny Ray’s tears and go home.

So what do people from “away” see and hear when they come to our baked bean suppers? They certainly don’t scan each table just to count the number of people there who are relatives. Nor were they a part of the life history of many of the people there.

For some old folks, a Grange supper might be a time to replay some nostalgic memories. But do our guests get any more out of it than an opportunity to eat an excellent homemade meal, load up a napkin with three extra pieces of pie and go home?

When I used to speak before audiences, I’d often mention that I live seven houses from where I was born and brought up. Then I’d ask, “How many of you still live in the same town where you were born?”

To the one or two with raised hands, I’d nod, sigh, and say, “Two or three of us here without no ambition.”

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website: