Other red barns out there

Somehow, a red barn is iconic. Little wonder I latched onto it in naming this blog. My posts have already mentioned Tuttle’s and Red’s Shoe Barn in Dover, New Hampshire, and the Red Barn Motel in Millbridge, Maine.

As for others? Not all of them are on farms.

  1. There’s the fast-food restaurant chain that originated in Springfield, Ohio.
  2. A market and deli in South Burlington, Vermont.
  3. A feed and pet store in the San Fernando Valley of California.
  4. A flea market in Bradenton, Florida.
  5. A home décor store in Wisconsin.
  6. A convention center in Adams County, Ohio.
  7. A trailer dealership in Texas and New Mexico.
  8. A medical marijuana producer and dispensary in New Mexico.
  9. Amish in Maine, who not only allow them but make them their bright signature color while keeping the houses plain white.
  10. And let’s not overlook Tom Waits, singing “There was a murder in the red barn” as the chorus.

America’s largest cities in 1790

Working on a big history project, both my own and in some discussions with a good friend who’s immersed in writing a book that’s all his, has had me reflecting on the growth of America. Just where was the economic and political power centered? The findings can be rather surprising.

  1. New York City (33,131 population). That’s all? It’s about the size of Dover, New Hampshire, or Bangor, Maine. Places we’d call small cities or towns.
  2. Philadelphia (28,522). As you’ll see, that’s a bit misleading, but still small by today’s standards.
  3. Boston (18,320). Well, it was also surrounded by some thriving towns, especially along the Charles River and around the harbor.
  4. Charleston, S.C. (16,359). So this was the belle of the South and diversely sophisticated, too?
  5. Baltimore (13,503). Less than half the size of Philadelphia.
  6. Northern Liberties Township, Pa. (9,913). Of course, had these suburbs been included with Philadelphia, the influence of the City of Brotherly Love would be more apparent.
  7. Salem, Mass. (7,921). Here’s where the New England picture changes and winds up taking up half of the Top Ten list.
  8. Newport, R.I. (6,716). Harbors were key factors for cities.
  9. Providence, R.I. (6,380). As I was saying?
  10. Marblehead, Mass. (5,661). One of three Bay State cities named for a single governor, as the saying goes. Peabody and Athol rounded out the honor.

Fact: Only two cities have ever held the distinction of most populous in the United States. When the Declaration of Independence was signed, it was Philadelphia. But by the time of the first Census, 1790, New York had taken the top spot, a rank it’s held ever since.

Signs that the Summer People are about to descend

  1. First boat on a trailer bouncing down the street. Usually soon followed by another.
  2. Lights on in a seasonal second-home.
  3. Double the number of cars at the IGA from what’s been normal.
  4. Rain rather than snow.
  5. More than one vehicle parked overnight at the motel. And then international flags flying from its deck.
  6. Out-of-state licenses plates from other than a random New Hampshire or Massachusetts or Virginia vehicle. Beginning with Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, but soon followed by Oregon, California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Ohio. Somehow, Florida doesn’t flood in initially.
  7. A change in the quality of daylight, from bright crisp to buttery.
  8. The first Mercedes in town since October. Or BMW, Audi, or Volvo.
  9. Green grass and dandelions.
  10. Somebody actually moving within one of the seasonally closed stores or galleries downtown.

A year of puffin-viewing tours to Machias Seal Island sells out in 45 minutes

The narrow, mile-wide island, claimed by both Canada and the U.S., is treasured by many birdwatchers for having the largest colony of nesting puffins along the Maine coast.

Trips to the island are limited, so much so that when online reservations for daily summer visits opened at 8 a.m. on January 10, all the tickets were booked in 45 minutes – at $180 a seat.

Sounds like a real bucket-list item, even if the boat sails from Cutler in my own Sunrise County.

Be warned, too, that the weather can be iffy, meaning that reservation might be cancelled on short notice.

Should I start considering a trip to Newfoundland if I really want to see any of the distinctive birds?