It was a fairly typical night here in Cornville, Maine and I was watching an episode of Shameless. There was a particularly loud street party scene so I didn’t really connect the dots when I heard the big screech and thump. Hmmm…it’s not often that I can practically feel a thump coming from the TV so I went to investigate.
I can’t say that I was particularly surprised to see a truck all fetched up in the snowbank. I had contacted the DOT earlier in the day to let them know the road was a sheet of ice here. Bill had seen a car do a 360 just a few hours before. When I looked out, I saw debris all over the driveway. Oh look, there’s our mailbox…and all sorts of other stuff that I didn’t recognize. That wasn’t the scary part. What concerned me was that the truck was inches away from the big spruce tree and I wasn’t sure if it came close or bounced off. I was very much hoping it came close because if it bounced off, the occupant(s) would not be in very good shape.
Luckily, it was a ‘came close’ situation and the driver exited the truck with nothing more than a slightly injured back. Come to find out, the guy was coming from Vermont on his way up north of here. Yes, I know Cornville is at the edge of the universe, but up north there are a few places teetering on the very brink. He was heading to one of those places.
We had him come inside so he could sit and keep warm. Dan is the nicest guy you could meet. He makes maple syrup over in Vermont and we talked about trees and his sugar bush. Yeah, that’s what you call acreage populated by maple trees. For those of you thinking it was something else, shame on you! Anyhow, he has a big operation and showed us photos of his sap house and some of the 17,000 taps he has. Taps are the little spigots that are literally tapped into the maples to catch the sap. Then it’s boiled down to syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of the syrup you put on your pancakes. You didn’t know you were going to have a lecture on maple syrup production, did you? Just know that the stuff they call pancake syrup in the market is nothing like the 100% real maple stuff. As far as I’m concerned, Aunt Jemima can take a hike.
Just to show you how things work in backwoods Maine, this is the conversation I had with the dispatcher for the county’s sheriff department. “Hello, I’d like to report a car off the road here on Route 150. The road is really slick.” The reply was classic: “Is that the fella from Vermont? Is he there with you? We’ve already sent a deputy out to make sure he’s ok.” News travels fast here, and people really care.
It wasn’t much later when the deputy sheriff showed up to assess the situation and get Dan’s info for his report. I really appreciate the work they do in this area. There are two deputies who cover our county. One county might not sound like much but it is just shy of four times the size of Rhode Island. Granted, Rhode Island is a small state, but still! These poor officers can drive hours north to answer a call, only to get another call back down this way. A deputy’s life in this neck of the woods isn’t easy.
It was about 11PM when Dan’s girlfriend showed up to get him. She had a long drive here but she came to wait with him, hoping to see the wrecker soon. By midnight they called AAA and told them to send the wrecker in the morning to pick up the truck. They drove the long way home, knowing they would have to be back in the morning.
Dan returned this morning, apologizing all over the place that he hadn’t made a sawhorse for us. You see, in this climate mailboxes live a precarious life. If they aren’t close enough to the road, the mailman won’t deliver. If they are too close to the road they will get clipped by the snowplows. Many Mainers just put their boxes on sawhorses hoping they won’t be decimated when they inevitably get ‘plowed.’ Our mailbox, however, was on a post the leaned back just enough to be mailman-accessible, yet somewhat plow-proof. However, now our mailbox is a crumpled piece of metal and the wooden post has been transformed into a scattered mess of toothpicks. As apologetic as he was, Dan might not have made a new sawhorse, but he came here with a brand new mailbox and even the adhesive numbers to put on it. He also came with maple syrup and maple candy. This story goes to show you how New Englanders repay one good deed with another. And talk about a sweet ending!