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Around this time each year, once we're done stacking firewood for next winter, cleaning and painting our gutters and downspouts, patching and sealing the driveway and caulking the windows that need it, folks in Maine like to step back, take a breath and wonder aloud to ourselves and to anyone else within ear shot just how the summer’s been going.
Our summer visitors might wonder why we do this, and that's fair enough, considering it's most always coming from people “from away.”
What they may not understand is that we here in Maine don't get much of what's considered “summer.” That’s because we're located on the 45th parallel above the equator.
Say what?
For those who can't read charts, living on the 45th parallel means we here in Maine are halfway between the equator and the North Pole, between suffocating heat and polar bear habitat. Those who've lived in Maine a while often feel like we're a lot closer to the polar bears and glaciers than we are to the pelicans and palm trees, but the geographical fact is we're right here in the middle of it all.
That middle position gives us things like late, very short springs, a tad shorter summers, brief but glorious autumns and much, much longer, colder, pipe-frozen winters than all our neighbors to the south. Because of the precious few summer days we do get, we tend to treat them as something special. So, we like to evaluate those precious summer days on an almost day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis, just to determine if we're getting the type of summer days we deserve.
Having said all that I'll now ask: So, how's YOUR summer going?
I hadn't given much thought to the question myself until the other day when I concluded – after looking at my calendar – that I might be having one of my best summers in recent memory. I don't know if it's anything I did, but I'll take the credit, anyway.
From June on, I've had a steady stream of corporate banquets and conventions to attend to give the attendees “a taste of Maine humor.”
Time was when most of those corporate events were scheduled from fall to spring, and summer was reserved for the Grange and Opera House shows. But not anymore!
Corporate groups are coming to realize that if you want a lot of people to sign up for your next event you should plan to have it at a popular Maine resort at a time when Maine enjoys some of the best weather on the planet. Conference and convention planners have learned that if you have a conference in Maine in August you'll break all attendance records. Of course your company will have to plan way ahead for such an event because these coastal resorts are booked way in advance.
Just last week I was asked by the “concierge” of a coastal resort to entertain a corporate group at an “off-site” dinner.
There was a time, not too long ago, when I had no idea what a concierge was and here I was arranging a booking with one.By necessity, we in Maine are becoming more sophisticated every day – whether we want to our not.
Anyway, after the woman introduced herself and gave her title I thought – I bit my tongue to avoid telling her that I could remember a time in Maine when you'd never even see the word “concierge” unless you were reading a French novel and now I have them calling me from right here on the coast of Maine. I guess Bob Dylan was right, “the times, they are a changing.’
Anyway, the group turned out to be from a large insurance company and as I stood before them I was concerned that my humorous observations would first have to be evaluated by one of their insurance adjusters so they could be properly advised on how heartily they’d be permitted to laugh.
It turns out my concerns were unwarranted. These insurance types we able to laugh and enjoy themselves as much as any normal group of adults.
What wasn't “normal” was what happened when I was finished. The organizer of this insurance banquet came forward and said he'd decided right then and there to buy everyone in the group a copy of my new book, “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia.”
What a great summer!
To show my appreciation I told him I would hang his company's calendar in my neat but not overly ostentatious Portland office.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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