Friday night, the lecturer at our Grange said that she was celebrating Simplicity Day.

Sure enough, the following morning we read online that “National Simplicity Day honors transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The day advocates a life of simplicity and recognizes the life of Thoreau.”

Didn’t he throw out three limestone rocks that were collecting dust on his windowsill? I thought he threw out his doormat for the same reason, but Google corrected me. “A lady once offered me a mat, but as I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare within or without to shake it, I declined it, preferring to wipe my feet on the sod before my door. It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.”

You might remember that we talked earlier about a class I took in Thoreau back around 1964. On examination day I brought to class a soda bottle filled with water I’d dipped out of Walden Pond and sprinkled a few drops on myself and classmates who went along with it.

The sheriff arrested Thoreau because he didn’t pay his poll tax. He didn’t like what he thought they were doing with his poll tax money, so he was jailed for nonpayment.

Emerson visited him. Who can forget their simple exchange of words?

“Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau supposedly peeped out from behind the bars and replied, “Waldo, the question is, what are you doing out there?”

Over 170 years later the system is not yet perfect and every day people are locked up for less, but it’s comforting to realize that this usually happens only to those who are very poor.

Somewhere here I meant to mention that I am the poster boy for old Maine men. My wants are few. A very few bank stocks will do. For years I’ve been buying my clothes at lawn sales. You might recall a very nice $2.50 jacket that I flaunted on this page a couple of years ago, and most of my dungarees were no more than a dollar.

The only problem with secondhand clothing is that it was cast off by real men who might dress out at 230 pounds, and I am now at 128. Last week my wife, Marsha, said, “Take off those clothes. You look like a scarecrow. Put on these I’ve laid out for you on the bed.”

I did. She shook her head and said, “It didn’t help.”

You can be sure that my Facebook friends accused me of “penury” and urged me to go to a store and buy something new. I wouldn’t know where to go. In my day there were at least two clothing stores in Rockland, Gregory’s and Coffin’s. I can remember my mother taking me in to Coffin’s to be measured for what Mr. Coffin called a pant. “That’s a nice pant,” he’d say.

But Gregory’s and Coffin’s have been replaced by two of Rockland’s ubiquitous art galleries.

Marsha said one now buys clothes at Walmart. I asked if they’d have anything that fit me. She said we’d go to the little boys’ department.

My seabag is up in the attic and is still packed with several rolled uniforms that were issued me in 1953. I doubt they were made in China. They probably still have quite a bit of wear in them. Even though they’d probably still fit and I’d look trim, management might have something to say about a husband in button-up bell bottoms.

Do Ralph Lauren, J. Peterman or L.L. Bean sell pants for emaciated men? Skinny, smiling women are the rule for women’s catalogs, but men are supposed to have broad shoulders and legs that are thick from years on the ski slopes. Who would admit to having anything that would fit me?

As one ages, every day is Simplicity Day. One misunderstands much of what is said by the spouse or friends. A Maine man pushing 80 recently left his home on the cool coast and went way up country to a dance.  After the dance it was a very hot and long road home, so he gladly accepted a friend’s invitation to stay overnight in a tidy upstairs bedroom.

One of his concerns was his usual 3 a.m. trip to the bathroom, which entailed navigating a steep flight of stairs in an unfamiliar house. He relaxed when he thought he heard his friend’s wife say that to ensure his comfort she’d put a can in his room. He was still thinking how thoughtful that was when he opened the door and was almost blown away by a blast from the fan.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


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