THE first tourist of the summer came by just now, and we made out fairly well. By the calendar, May Day is about right, but the season hasn't been salubrious, and I was still thinking March and April. He drove into our gravel lane with great effect, placing on the springs of his magnificent automobile much more trust than do the clamdiggers with their pickups. The clamdiggers, heading for the shore, zigzag, dodging the potholes we encourage to discourage speeding.
This gentleman was from away, and the antenna for his mobile telephone was whipping about some old goo-ood. Not expecting a summercater yet, I was really not quite ready with a seasonal rejoinder, and was embarrassed that I couldn't come up immediately with some succinct phrase that would make his trip to Maine worthwhile.
"Is this the Wadsworth Road?" he called in beautiful enthusiasm as if we had known each other since the Civil War, and I was glad.
It crossed my mind in a fleeting flash that were the response to be in the affirmative I could use one of my eyahs, on which I have been practicing every day for 10 minutes. But since our lane ends at the tidewater and goes nowhere, I was caught negatively, so to speak, and my only answer had to be, "No."
I said, "No."
I thought that was pretty good on short notice, considering that I was taken by surprise, but he seemed to be puzzled by the straightforward manner I had used, and he said, "It isn't?"
I had recovered some of my usual poise, so was able to do a mite better. "Nope," I said.
So he said, "Well, what is this road?"
Now I had steam up and was ready for the Reuben Boondocks role certified by all the travel agents and motoring clubs. I looped my thumbs into my overall straps and cleared my throat.
"Well-l-l," I says, "I tell ya. We been givin' the matter a great deal o' thought, and we hain't reached what you might call a consensus. I'd like to call it the Yappian Way, on account o' how across the river they's a pup that barks all the time, but my wife - my first wife, that is - says we don't get a class o' visitors here that would appreciate the illusion. You from away?"
"Yes," he said.
"I thought so. Who you lookin' for?"
"A family named Hunt on the Wadsworth Road."
"They ain't nobody on the Wadsworth Road named Hunt."
"That's the address they gave me."
"Don't suppose you'd be looking for the Blunts over on the Wadley Corner Road?"
"Eyah. Moved on last sum-muh. He ran a hardware store in Skowhegan. Blunt Hardware Company. You can't miss him. Big red house just beyond Sugarbash Brook.
"Where is this Wadley Corner Road?"
"Next one beyond the Wadsworth Road. You can't miss it."
He didn't even thank me. Just ripped in and out of my dooryard to turn around, and went off with his telephone aerial snappin' like a buggy whip.
I said to myself, "Ought-a chalk him on the back o' the shop door as No. 1, 1992." The way Smiley Johnson used to keep track of the mahogany folks who tossed anchor with no string tied to it. Smiley got 14 in one week in August.
So summer is icumen in, and at least one yokel coocoo has lhude sung. I'll check with the folks at the post office to see if anybody else in town has caught one yet.
Now I'll go back and finish potting my garden transplants. The weather has stayed unpropitious, and they're getting leggy.