Eight Children

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Poor Jeffrey!  He bikes for two.  He thinks for two.  And no matter how tired he is at the end of the day, he writes for two.  His shortage of time and energy is why we don’t reply to most messages our friends post on the blog or on Facebook.  But we read every one.  And we are deeply grateful for your kindness and support.

This morning, our new friend Kevon asked that we show the world that Jamaicans can ride a recumbent trike.  He was a natural!  So was our new friend Jenise.

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On the bridge from South Portland to Portland, we were overtaken by Thomas.

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Thomas’s grandmother was 100% First Nations (American Indian) ancestry.  Thomas grew up as an orphan in the Maryland child welfare system.  These factors make him bitter.  He remarked at our Ride For Human Rights sign, that humans should have no rights, that it would be better for the rest of creation if we disappear.  He thinks our disappearance is imminent.  Thomas has particular venom for the immigration system; he said his ancestors pitied the inept European invaders, gave them food and advice (the Thanksgiving story), and look what happened!  Jeffrey, who has written of the irony that the descendants of unauthorized European immigrants make rules about who is allowed to follow them into a land they have no special right to occupy, expressed his understanding and sympathy.

In downtown Portland . . .

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. . . we stopped to talk with Nancy, Conan, and Crystal.

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Nancy is a photographer, Conan an author, Crystal a jewelry maker.  They were selling artworks on the sidewalk.  They came over to shake Jeffrey’s hand and gave him warm encouragement and travel advice.

Jeffrey asked them about the Maine governor’s grumbling in 2014 when the Federal government sent 8 unaccompanied refugee children to Maine.  Jeffrey was curious: was the governor pandering to the public’s sentiment, or was he out of line?  Our three friends agreed that unlike the governor, Maine people are generous and welcome needy children.  And they illustrated how complex these issues can be.  Nancy wants to help refugees, but talked about large refugee groups that have resettled in Maine, and the problems this has caused.  Crystal, whose roots are in two First Nations tribes (entitling her views to special consideration), would not say “no” to any child, notwithstanding Nancy’s legitimate concerns.  We all listened to one another, and parted friends.

Here’s a Portland ferry.

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A narrow-gauge railway museum with a working locomotive.  The gauge is hardly wider than our 20″ front wheel!

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The farther we got from Portland, the less effective were truck mufflers and the more aggressively some people drove.  Still, we felt respected.  Maybe this is one reason we are given so much room when being passed.

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In Freeport, we met German tourists Heinke and Horst.

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They live in a small town 10 miles (16 km) from Nuremburg.  Horst is a carpenter who retired for medical reasons.  He finds and repairs bicycles; he owns 40!  Heinke is a logistics expert for a large American corporation and speaks excellent American English.  We talked about refugee issues as they affect Europe and the USA.  Heinke’s charity of choice shows where her sympathies lie; she donates to Doctors Without Borders.  And she favors giving desperate people refuge; it’s enough for her that someone is hungry, never mind whether that reason is due to persecution or poverty.  Kindred spirits!

Meet Betsy.

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She’s a part-time art teacher in a poor community in rural Maine, and a part-time worker at the L.L.Bean outlet, where she found Jeffrey a new GoreTex rain jacket for a price too low to print here. He will need the jacket on Sunday; rain is forecast.  I will be dry, as always, in my plastic bag.

Teaching is difficult work.  Betsy’s work is made more difficult by the attitudes of some of the people in the community where she teaches.  She told Jeffrey stories suggesting parents and children with a sense of entitlement.  That is something Jeffrey has not not seen among the asylees with whom he has worked.  If it is virtuous to be grateful for what one has, asylees are more virtuous than many Americans.  Betsy’s enthusiasm made Jeffrey miss the art classes of his youth.  We hope Betsy finds full-time work in a community that appreciates her.

We passed the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick.  Joshua Chamberlain, whose leadership at Gettysburg kept Little Round Top from falling to the rebels, still guards the gates, attended by a Memorial Day flower arrangement (not shown).  After the Civil War, Chamberlain was governor of Maine and was a professor and president of Bowdoin.

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We knew we were in the countryside when we saw this “American” motel sign.  We do not patronize businesses that call themselves “American Owned and Operated”.  We see it as a swipe at immigrants, who also are Americans.

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Bath Iron Works, seen from a bridge.  They build submarines.

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Forest along the Kennebec River.

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Maine rocks.  Note the layers.  We will write about these another day.

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3 thoughts on “Eight Children

  1. Maine seems to have a bit more diverse folks/views than you had chatted up in those other New England states so far. Wonder what more awaits you as you as you head into moose territory…. away from the cities…

  2. Your gentle diplomacy is very inspiring. Even if others don’t always come around to your point of view, I hope they at least benefit from your example of how to engage in rational discourse. I don’t know how you find the energy to post every night after riding, but I do enjoy reading!

  3. Sorry, Jeffrey, that Diane and I weren’t home to accommodate you on Thursday. Hope you (and Joey) found good lodging for that night. Your commitment is inspiring. Keep on spinning! –Dick

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