It appears as though an annual visitor has returned to our cove on the Landing Road, bringing with him a great deal of excitement. I say, ‘him’ not knowing if he is a ‘he’, or a ‘she’. This particular bird spends a great deal of time in the cove between our plot and that of our dear friends, the Newtons, from late spring through fall each year. Mrs. Newton named ‘him’, Hank Aaron the Heron. To save time, and syllables, we refer to him as ‘Hank’.
Come to it, we really have no idea if the same bird arrives each spring. It could be a different bird in the cove, not only each year, but on any given day. This thought, turned over once or twice, yields the realization that I have absolutely no idea how many ‘Hank Aaron the Heron’s exist in this world. The number may be sobering.
All that said, Mrs. Newton recently wrote to me with some urgency. From the porch of her ‘winter house’, she observed a large Blue Heron flying overhead. “Hank just flew over my house!” she exclaimed, “He must be headed to you!”
This communication can only serve as proof that all Blue Herons are indeed a single Blue Heron, going by the name ‘Hank Aaron’, here in Maine. Should you decide to share this particular theory, I can only offer the knowledge that the concepts of quantum mechanics and parallel worlds may be useful in the inevitable arguing.
Explanation: In and amongst the short list of my talents, according to those who are ‘in the know’, is the ability to do impressions. No, not voice and/or mannerism impressions of fellow humans. Written impressions. For some reason, when I read someone’s words, it’s easy for my brain to drop into their ‘voice’. Among friends, I’ve had a lot of fun sharing ‘written caricatures’ over the years. Oh I know. How nerdy is that?
So, what gives with the ‘letter’ above?
I am currently knee-deep (or knuckles-deep) into the book, Chickens, Gin, and a Maine Friendship: The Correspondence of E.B. White & Edmund Ware Smith. It is a book comprised of a heap of letters between the two men, discovered (well, rediscovered) in a Damariscotta (Maine) bank vault in 2018.
As far as I’m concerned, it is one of the best titled books ever to exist. This may be because I am an avid fan of chickens, gin (in the form of a summer gin & tonic), Maine, friendship, and E.B. White. I am also now pretty fond of Edmund Ware Smith. The letters are fantastic. They are funny, and very Maine-y (written by two men ‘from away’ who had homes in, and were quite fond of, Maine). A fun bonus is that neither man seems to be at all interested in gently wading into his own letters, or offering any sort of wrap up before signing his name. Perfectly endearing.
I’d started writing the (true) story, about my friend Chris texting me that Hank (Aaron the Heron) had flown over her house and was headed toward the island, when White’s style hijacked my brain. His ability to hone in on the salient tidbits of his everydays is part in parcel to his magic. The tidbits were the gems.
The tidbits are always the gems.
I love when we turn our attention to the small stuff, casting our light over where our gratitudes hide.
Back to me and my not-quite-enviable talent…
Other than the occasional, humor-infused note to a friend or friends, I’m not sure what value ‘written impersonations’ might have. I mean, I don’t think I could monetize it on YouTube or anything. That said, I have spent a lot of hours consuming Netflix documentaries on con artists and charlatans during the pandemic. Perhaps an international criminal syndicate will reach out, offering billions in bitcoin for a ransom note in the style of Nora Ephron (What. You never know.) Fine. I confess to lacking a mindset for global criminality. I can’t wrap my brain around cryptocurrency either, so that’s going to be an additional hurdle.
p.s., Apologies to all fans of E.B. White’s Elements of Style. Though I may be able to loosely ‘impersonate’ his letter-writing voice, I cannot even begin to adhere to his grammatical and punctuatorial perfectionisms. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to type dot dot dot instead of a harsh – to me – single period.
Even that one was hard…
Thanks for readin’.
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