The Africa Measurement

Bangor International Airport continues to encourage 20 seconds of hand-washing, but also offers helpful guidance about how to determine when you’ve hit the 20 seconds above the sink by identifying song snippets that need that time period to be properly sung. And the song options cover the generational and musical taste spectrum, with rock and pop songs from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s and a country and what I believe to be a rap/hip-hop option. (Not being familiar with Lil Nas X, I’m guessing that is the right genre.)

There’s a risk in encouraging song singing, because someone could burst into off-key crooning in a public restroom. But I chose Toto’s Africa and sang it in my head as I lathered and rinsed, including holding the note on “had” as happened in the original version. And I learned something in the process: I always thought the lyrics were “I felt the rain down in Africa,” and “I bless the rains down in Africa” definitely gives the song a different meaning (although I’m not sure exactly what).

When I was done and had dried my hands, satisfied that I had fully complied with the 20-second instruction, I mentally sang the rest of Africa—as best I remembered it—then mentally sang Rosanna for good measure.

House Names

Many of the houses in Stonington have formal names, like “Morning Mist,” designated by signs on the house itself. That’s pretty unusual in my experience; I don’t remember seeing houses being given names in Columbus, for example. I’m not sure exactly why this house-naming tendency is so, but not surprisingly I have a theory. Many of the residents of Stonington owns boats, and the boats are always named. If you’re going to name one object or possession, why not name another? I wouldn’t be surprised if they named their cars, too.

My two favorite names are “Yonder,” shown by the sign above the barn doors above, and “The Snow Goose,” on the trim house below. “Yonder” is a great, now archaic word that dates from the Middle Ages. It indicates something in the distance that is within sight or capable of being identified by a gesture. As a house name, it has a certain mystical quality. And “The Snow Goose” is similarly evocative. It conjures up clear mental images, and it also makes you wonder what caused a prior owner to settle on that name.