Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that he could often quickly compose the first few lines to verses but would then be unable to finish them. They’d stay on his desk for days, much like an unwanted guest in the house. He’d finally tack a few lines on the end and launch them, metaphorically speaking, stern first into the great outdoors, just to be rid of them.

The same is often true of newspaper columns. Some end very comfortably before they fill up their allotted space, and would lose their poignancy were they to be artificially fleshed out.

When I could slip these short informative or humorous bits in between the music in a radio or television program, they were just the thing, but there is no place for them in Maine’s foremost daily newspaper.

You might see mountains of old plastic yogurt containers and glass olive jars in the homes of elderly people – because they might come in handy someday. I am in a similar position with countless pages of useless quips and comments. Everything worth saying in three lines has already been printed on greeting cards, so there is no market for aphorisms.

Anyone worth his salt could weave several of these scraps together without having it look contrived. If you can’t, you end up with a column that looks more like a list of events in your yearly Christmas letter.

• Do you remember what it was like to be little and look forward to Christmas?

Some of the presents were already under the tree.

You’d pick up the packages and feel them and squeeze them and shake them. And if there was a puppy inside, too bad for him.

Did you realize it is possible to relive those innocent days of unmitigated excitement?

Did you know that even at 85 it is possible to rekindle a gleam of anticipation in your rheumy old eyes?

I would not have believed this could happen had I not found myself sitting on the edge of my chair, watching the clock. And realizing that in only 26 minutes it would be noontime and that I could then remind my wife, Marsha, to make me a crabmeat sandwich.

• Sooner or later every woman married to a man who can’t remember if he ate his pills has to admit that the old geezer has only a few more miles left on him.

How do you suppose the old man knows when his wife realizes that he is not immortal?

She breaks out a few of his expensive shirts that she’s been making him save for special occasions and suggests that he start wearing them around the house.

• If you have chosen your Facebook friends by something other than scanty clothing or caustic memes, your reward can be substantial. Take, for example, what Nick wrote on my page about cats.  He says that many people get their knickers in a twist when their cat climbs up a tree and feigns distress.  Some call the fire department. Good-natured firefighters sometimes humor them, but one in Camden was heard to say, “Lady. Be patient. The cat will come down. Did you ever see a cat skeleton in a tree?” Another friend replied with, “Dogs are obviously smarter than cats. You seldom see a dog at the top of a tree pretending to be stuck.”

• If you were a seagull in the town of St. George, Maine, you’d probably think back wistfully to the good old days when we had a landfill dump. Back then, sports wanting to make a good impression on a first date would take her to the dump to shoot rats. Nowadays, the town of St. George has a state-of-the-art recycling center where even a cockroach would starve to death.

Even though everything is recycled, to many of us it is still the dump. There are two different wood piles, one for trees and one for lumber. You can back up your truck and load it with firewood or boards. When I haul a good pine board home from the dump, I am saving the town money in disposal fees. When you see me leaving the dump with more than I brought down, you realize that St. George epitomizes the social experience they call recycling. The only losers are rats and seagulls.

Has anyone ever been married at your dump?

Wouldn’t you think that two people who reached for the same pine board and felt the magic when their hands touched would want to consider it?

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:
www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.