Into The Great Green Silence

When you get a chance to get away from it all, you should take full advantage of the opportunity.  I’ve been trying to follow that principle and get in a few last hikes around Deer Isle before we have to head back to civilization.

The Edgar Tennis Preserve is a pretty good place to appreciate nature in all its quiet, colorful glory.  We’re at the tail end of the season, so there aren’t many hikers to share the trails — which means the Preserve is as quiet as the world gets.  It is as if the moss and the ferns and the pine straw on the trail swallow any random bits of noise, and all you’re likely to hear is the whisper of the breeze through the branches of the pine trees towering overhead.  If you like silence — and who doesn’t, from time to time? — this is a good place for you.

And the colors are brilliant — even if they are, for the most part, shades of green.  The leaves of the trees and the ferns are clinging to the last bit of 60s temperatures to maintain their green finery to the last, until the fall colors finally emerge. If you were looking for a particular shade of green, this would be the place to come — the Preserve has the entire spectrum covered, from the deep green of the pine trees in shade to the bright, sun-dappled green of the moss and ferns as they are hit by rays of sunlight.

You can follow an old country road down to the foundations of a long-abandoned salt water farm where apple trees planted by the settlers — with green apples, of course — mix with the encroaching forest.  A small footpath winds down to a tidal pool, where the water is clear as crystal and looks green itself, thanks to the algae-covered rocks below.

The Random Restaurant Tour — XXIX

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While Kish and I were up in Maine, I got some unfortunate news from Columbus:  the Scotsman shared a Columbus Underground article announcing that Jack’s Diner would be serving its last meal on Thursday or Friday.  That meant I’ve missed the chance to grab the double cheeseburger special — with crinkle-cut fries and a chocolate milkshake, made with real milk and real ice cream, pictured above — for one last time.

Jack’s, located in Lynn Alley only a block from the Ohio Statehouse, has been a downtown dining staple since 1942.  It’s been a fixture in the lunch rotation for me and many other Vorys lawyers ever since I started at the firm in the ’80s.  You always saw the same regulars perched on the counter stools and in the booths at Jack’s, and everyone seemed to have their own favorite order from the unchanging menu and daily specials that offered classic American diner fare.  Some of the wait staff had worked there for years, and they would remember your face and your order.  It was a special place that always made you feel like home.

According to the Columbus Underground article, the demise of Jack’s was caused by the ever-ongoing construction around the Rhodes Tower, with its dark, looming scaffolding that has interrupted vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  If that is the real cause, it’s a ridiculously high price to pay for an ugly, featureless modern office tower.  Joints like Jack’s don’t come around every day.

Little Deer Lighthouse

Last night we did some exploring and drove to the far end of Little Deer Isle. There you will find the Pumpkin Island Lighthouse, one of many scenic whitewashed lighthouses that dot the craggy Maine coastline. This particular sentinel warns mariners of the shoals along the northwest entrance to the Eggemoggin Reach, a popular waterway that connects Penobscot Bay and Blue Hill Bay.

It was a beautiful day, with clear skies and only a slight riffle on the waters of the Reach. The Pumpkin Island Lighthouse is one of those places that seems untouched by time, and a still afternoon was a good time to enjoy its calm, quiet beauty.

Seriously Sick Of Surveys

Some time ago we made a significant purchase.  For purposes of this post, the product or service in question is irrelevant.  It could be a phone, it could be a vehicle, it could be a major appliance, or a stay in a hotel, or some kind of streaming service, or a political contribution.  The item makes no difference, because it is the experience surrounding the expenditure that is the point — and the experience is, unfortunately, pretty much the same no matter what you spend your money on these days.

survey-11In virtually every case, you’ve got to make the decision on whether to give your email address and get the app that is specific to the purchased item.  These choices raise key decision points for the consumer:  do you give out your email address, knowing that you are losing control of an important bit of your personal privacy, and do you clutter your phone with apps that may give rise to unwanted beeps and buzzes and messages clogging your primary communications device?  I try to be judicious about this judgment call, and think about what I might really want and need as a result of each particular purchase.  If I think I may need to get an important message — like a product recall alert, or a warranty issue, or a service call — I’ll grudgingly give up the information.  Otherwise, I politely decline.

But when you do give up that information, the upshot is as predictable as an overnight Trump Twitter storm — you’re going to be getting surveys.  And in the modern world it won’t be just one survey; now, you’re likely to get a survey as soon as you make the purchase, and then get additional survey requests in the future, even if you’ve faithfully filled out the initial survey.  The survey bombardment is relentless.  Each survey request promises that it will take “only” a few minutes, but it’s pretty clear from the questions that what the survey is really seeking is not customer satisfaction information about the specific product or service you’ve just bought, but rather information about you and your personal preferences and perceptions and lifestyle, so that the seller of the item can better market things to you in the future.

I hate this reality of modern life.  The survey onslaught really irritates me, and also negatively affects my perception of the product.  It’s obvious that the seller that sends the survey doesn’t place much value on my time and also thinks I must be a sap, besides, if I’m going to gladly divulge personal information that enriches them and provides me with no benefit.  Maybe sellers with surveys are like email scammers — they know most rational people will just delete the message, but if they get just one sap to participate they’ve received a significant benefit at minimal cost.  I routinely delete the survey requests, and spend a few seconds steaming about the arrogance of the sender.

Do sellers understand how people like me react to surveys, or do they just not care?

Stonington Wa

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Our place in Stonington has rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks.  More rocks, in fact, than the mortal mind can imagine in its wildest, rock-filled dreams.

So what do you do with so many rocks?  I’ve decided to get in touch with my inner wa and am trying to develop an ersatz Japanese rock garden along the edge of the creek, in the weedy waste area between the big boulders and the water’s edge.  There’s lots of different shapes and colors of rocks and stones, large and small, some smooth and some rugged, in the down yard.  I dig up and pick up the stones and then place them cheek by jowl, trying to fit them snugly together like a granite jigsaw puzzle.

No doubt expert rock garden developers would chuckle at this weak effort, but it’s been a fun way of addressing the rock issue that allows for some creativity, too.

Ditch Niche

Our place in Stonington features a small stream that runs along the border between our property and our neighbor’s place to the north.  Actually, “stream” is probably not an accurate description.  I think of it as a creek, but some people might view it as more of a rivulet, or even a glorified drainage ditch.  The water tumbles down the hillside to the harbor, rushing by in the winter and wet spring months and when it rains, but otherwise moving sluggishly — if at all — after a few dry days at the end of summer.

Humble thought it may be, it’s still the only watercourse I’ve ever had on a property, and I think it is pretty cool.  The neighbor’s side of the creek is littered with big, picturesque boulders, but our side was definitely lacking in the stone category.  As a result, the second part of my stone-digging project has involved rolling, flipping, or carrying the stones I’ve excavated over to the creekside, to better frame the stream.  I’ve also been working at clearing out the accumulated branches and other debris that has clogged the creek and interfered with the flow of the water.  It’s pretty clear that nobody has paid much attention to it for years.

The goal is to make the creek look more like a waterway and less like a damp spot in the yard.  It’s still a work in progress.