A Holiday in Maine

Not one snowflake had fallen before Christmas. When I told Celeste I wanted snow for our visit over New Year’s, she said “I don’t think so but you’ll be able to ice skate.” This was not encouraging as I hadn’t had ice skates on my feet for over 20 years. Besides, I wanted to try something new – snowshoeing.

The day before we were to catch our flight, as though I had been able to will it into existence, the forecast was for snow and it was headed to Maine. While I was happy to be getting what I wished for, I was now concerned about the condition the roads would be in for our drive north from Logan Airport.

Outside Boston, the roads weren’t too bad as the precipitation had turned to rain. It was when we were close to the New Hampshire border that the road turned from wet to ice and slush. We passed the flashing lights of the highway patrol near a car that had gone off the road, probably driving so fast they lost control but at least they didn’t hit anyone else. I was about to suggest we just stop in Portsmouth and rent a room but our friends and the promised chicken stew was only one hour further – well in good weather that is. And my expectation that the roads would be better maintained once we crossed the Maine border were met.

When we turned off I-95 onto the local streets of South Portland, I could tell the sidewalks hadn’t yet been plowed by the number of people walking in the road. They lumbered along like animated snowmen wearing jackets in all the colors of the rainbow and boots to mid-calf or up to their knees. I rolled down the window and took a deep breath. There is something about the air in Maine. It always smells crisp and clean.

We pulled into the driveway and right away, heard the barks of greeting from Louie, the labradoodle, who Mary Anne mistakenly reminded me was a poodledoodle and we both started laughing. Next we saw Jeanne, opening the side door, waving in greeting, followed by Celeste. We had been texting back and forth during our journey so they were expecting us.

Within minutes, we’d removed our shoes, our glasses were filled with white wine and we were toasting each other, then taking seats at the table and  spooning the warm chicken, vegetables, and broth to our mouths. The room went silent for a second while we savored the flavors. All tragedies averted, we had made it to our destination.

So Maine was fulfilling all my romantic ideas – the fluffy snow, catching up with old friends, partying at night and taking it easy during the day. And I knew that, on vacation, it’s always a mistake to watch the news, pick up a newspaper. But I couldn’t resist.

I already knew about the heroin problem in the US, particularly in the hard hit economic areas. I knew that  terrorists don’t need to bomb, just need to get people hooked on drugs. The local news in Portland was that some drug dealers had been arrested – not just for heroin but also crack cocaine.

I’m not going to go on and on about this. I think everyone in Portland knows that Deering Park is one place where everyone goes to make a deal, shoot up. People have OD’d there. But it seems like, finally, the people in power are realizing that the people who have succumbed  need treatment, not incarceration. The first person I read of who was pleading for this was Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont whose entire State of the State Message was about the heroin crisis. It’s a problem all over New England but not just there. Are the dealers hooked on drugs too? Possibly paying for their habit by dealing? I don’t know. Whatever it is we are doing is not working. People are dying. A lot of people are dying. It’s not like the DEA gives a seal of approval to illicit drugs. They are adulterated with who knows what. We need to save lives. We need a new approach.

Check this out as it gives a unique perspective. I hope it is legit  http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/17/heroin-addicts-letter-thanking-portland-officer-who-helped-him-strikes-a-nerve-on-facebook/

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