You know when spring has arrived on the coast of Maine. You can’t believe that it’s 8 p.m. because it is still light outside. The forsythia is out. The grass in your backyard needs attention. You look online and see that for at least a month it will be too wet and too cold to step outside to do anything about it.

After checking the online weather, you might quickly turn to a dozen of your favorite news sites. I do. But most days there isn’t a thing there that makes it different from any other day: the number of people carried off by the corona menace, shootings, charts showing which segments of society refuse to wear a mask or get vaccinated.

From time to time my wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, calls my attention to some very unusual news item. Yesterday a TV reporter found an aged man in Texas who still believes in the efficacy of Reagan’s trickle-down theory.

Did the newspapers of yesteryear also print the same predictable things over and over? Happenings that appealed to a public thirsting for enlightenment?  Yes, but the subject matter was easier on the nerves. Back then it was the wedding announcements of an actress named Liz.

The other day everywhere I looked was a Caitlyn Jenner. When someone I’ve never heard of who hasn’t murdered 10 or more people with a machine gun appears in all the newspapers on the same day, one might think it was a name worth memorizing in case it turns up again.

But I’m not going to do it – I’ll hope that Caitlyn Jenner quietly drops out of the news cycle.


Your friends of a certain age will tell you that as soon as they take the trouble to learn the name of some new celebrity who appears in the news, the celebrity is too often struck down by some disaster. So memorizing their name was a waste of time.

Never tell your young Facebook friends that you have never heard of their favorite movie star. Half of them won’t believe you and the other half will clutter your space with uninteresting clippings.

I must admit that April provided us with a few pleasant days before the usual May rains set in. A week ago my friend Duane helped me build a ramp that will allow my wife, who is disabled, to bypass the impossible steps and enter the house by herself. While building it, we discovered what I believe to be a unique unit of measurement.

The three-dog night is a unit of measurement. Everyone knows that a three-dog night is a night so cold that you have to either turn up the heat or sleep with three dogs to keep warm. I suggest that the length of any project in the woods, fields or pastures can be measured by the number of ticks that can attach themselves to your body while you are executing it.

In the process of completing the ramp we ran several boards through a small portable planer. Because we rested it on the ground, which is easier than rigging up a bench or table, we had to get down on our knees on the lawn by the lilac bushes, which, as I might not need to tell you, is infested with bloodthirsty ticks.

The job took just enough time for three ticks to attach themselves to our living flesh: one on my left wrist, which I caught outside; one on my right wrist, which I caught inside while reclining in my favorite chair, and one on Duane’s neck, which was discovered by his wife two hours later in the privacy of their own home.

You might hopefully find a use for the tick unit of measurement in your own life. For example, any one of your gardening friends would know exactly what you were saying should you casually let drop that you’d just completed a two-tick job. Nowadays if Marsha can’t find half a dozen ticks on me when I come in, she figures that I couldn’t have done all that much.

That’s when she’ll try to get a bit more out of me before my nap by asking me to vacuum the rug. She knows that I can spend hours trying to suck black vitreous floaters off a blue carpet.

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

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