Opinion

The Fourth

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The Fourth of July, Independence Day, celebration begins at our home on the third of July, with house cleaning and grocery shopping. Before the sun set on July 3, however, I paddled out onto Bear Pond on our trusty stand up paddle board, dropped my flat rock anchor, and snorkeled awhile in the cool, refreshing water.

Neighbor Alison was waist deep in the water, halfway between her home and pond float, when I lifted myself back onto the SUP board to head to shore. She and I serve as de facto Water Cavalry when loons near this end of the pond are fighting bald eagles.

Neither bird in Maine is endangered or threatened. But a pair of adult loons in calm, open water with a baby in tow, and a pair of bald eagles circling the loons overhead, positioning to strike, presents an environmental puzzle. At least from the viewpoint of mankind as Mother Nature’s interloper.

Alison and I can stand on shore and watch nature’s eagle/loon play unfold. Maybe the three loons will dive and evade the eagles until the two predators give up their hunt. But odds are, left to play itself out, a loon will die.

Without prior consultation, two or three times now, Alison and I have spotted an eagle/loon showdown, hopped on our SUP boards, paddled out to the battle area and chased off the eagles.

Of course, if a mature bald eagle ever decides it has had enough of my meddling and attacks me, I may have to rethink my interloping.

This July 3 Alison asks, “Have you found anything cool under the water this year?” She’s referring to my snorkeling scavenger past-time.

“Not much,” I answer, telling Alison I recovered an old clear glass Hi-Brow soda bottle and a Heddon “Tiny Torpedo” bass fishing lure.

“I think I’ve cleaned up Bear Pond,” I smile. “It may be time to move on to a new body of water.”

Alison suggests I search in shallower Bear Pond water. She tells me of her lost pierced earring — star shape silver with two diamonds — somewhere between her beach and her pond float. “That was a few years ago,” she says, “but I keep the matching earring just in case.”

A few years ago Tucker, a loud good-natured little boy in the neighborhood — like an 11-year old Jackie Gleason — dropped his eyeglasses into Bear Pond from a pontoon boat. After a couple of days, enthusiasm for finding Tucker’s glasses was running out. When I heard Tucker really couldn’t see well without his glasses I went into my snorkeling scavenger mode and found them in shallow water.

I told Alison about Tucker and promised I’d look for her earring.

Next day, Independence Day, the sun was bright and hot. A traditionally busy day on Bear Pond, this July Fourth started out quiet. Even the town parade seemed uncharacteristically subdued. To the beat of two snare drummers, military veterans led the parade walking and carrying an American Flag, a VFW flag, and a POW/MIA flag.

A pickup truck pulled a flatbed trailer for three seated military veterans, including WWII veteran Henry B. Poisson, Master Sergeant US Army Retired, twice recommended for the US Congressional Medal of Honor.

After the parade, friends and family stop by our home and our neighbors’ homes. The smell of hamburgers and hot dogs, and the sound of children laughing and splashing, is everywhere.

With arriving nightfall, skyrockets rise up from around the pond, exploding in colors and booms ricocheting off houses and pines. After the finale, with gunpowder smoke low over the water on this still night, a couple of friends and I talk of American Revolution battlefields we’ve visited, imagining the sounds, smells, and gun smoke at the close of those important battles.

And I think of my friend, Mary Adams’s, truism: The American Revolution never ended. It’s ongoing.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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