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Monday, April 16, 2007

A Sea Change

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Thomas Paine (1737–1809)

Porcupine had always intended to mark Patriot's Day, a holiday unique to Massachusetts and Maine. Originally, Porcupine had planned a post about how the patriotic can also be misguided; perhaps a comparison of Nancy Pelosi visiting Syria with Neville Chamberlain visiting Germany, each genuinely patriotic, each desperate for Peace in Our Time, and each entirely misguided.

But Porupine's post was swept away in the Great Patriot's Day Storm, which caused him to notice another sort of patriot entirely.

Porcupine had left for Maine on Friday for the Patriot's Day Weekend, and was able to get through the snow to spend Friday and Saturday nights at his hut in Jefferson. However, by Sunday, reports of the coming storm were growing increasingly grim, and Porcupine was weary of spitting wood for the fire, and had discovered a frozen bear paw print near his domicile. All things considered, it seemed wise to spend Sunday night in Rockland, and indeed, it was a lucky choice, as the raging winds and rain were fierce. More than once during the night, Porcupine was awakened by mysterious thuds on the outer wall, and eventually drew aside the curtain to investigate. It was seagulls, caught by the wind and pelted against the building, coming down with a thud on the small wooden balcony, and sitting there dazed for a moment before heading back to their roost.

This morning, Patriot’s Day, Porcupine began the long drive down the coast. Caution seemed the order of the day, as Porcupine had never attempted to drive some 600 miles in a hurricane before. Keeping to Route 1 at first, Porcupine saw everywhere the hard work and discipline of the fire and police as they helped cope with the storm. In Waldoboro, he saw a policeman calmly standing in the highway, winding up the electric cable from a set of traffic lights about to break their slender tether and come down. The Minehata Fire Dept. came rushing out to cope with a downed power line. Even on I-95, where the oceans and rivers had flooded the interstate in Biddeford, the police kept the traffic moving, albeit carefully. Even as fifty M.P.H. gusts caused vehicles to sway and swerve on the rain-pelted highways, these public servants were out in force, serving and protecting.

Yes, these are indeed no Sunshine Patriots, but the best sort of patriot - doing their freely chosen duty and protecting their community and country. When disaster happens, there will be there, and let us all thank them for their hard work and support.


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