Our new winter neighbors, who have been coming for decades and who now teach in our island school, own a pig. Now, I have island pork in my freezer, but this particular pig is not livestock. She is Penny and, sometime soon, friend Penny will be arriving.

Somebody wrote me and said that a book about a flying pig would be a good children’s book (people are often suggesting things to me that might be a good children’s book). This would not be the flying pig image you likely have in mind. This would be Penny, the rather large pet pig, cajoled, shoved, nudged, coaxed or hoisted into a Cessna. In the story, Penny the Pig is preparing to fly to Matinicus and has her camera at the ready, but first she wants to meet all the different pilots, including Roger from Uranium City, Saskatchewan, who understands so well what we go through out here, and several pilots named Mike who have worked in Alaska but just one “Ketchikan Mike,” who flies a StationAir (“the station wagon of the air”) like a fighter jet, and then there was that conversation about doing hockey stops on lakes in float planes. Yeah.

As far as whether the pig would fit in the aircraft, she likely would. Our air service has delivered an entire John Deere tractor-mounted snow-blower, in pieces, which was about the heaviest thing anybody can remember unloading from out of the airplane, except maybe those pallets of ready-mix concrete to pour the base for the weather station, and some of the more recent UPS packages. I was at the Knox County Airport a couple of weeks ago, getting ready to fly home, and I thought I’d just be sort of neighborly and help load the freight onto the airplane. Yikes; I had no idea. Bricks-by-mail, is that a thing? Plate steel in flat-rate priority boxes? Do remote-living people buy their winter’s supply of canned goods from Amazon these days? The answer to that is yes, by the way. Cinderblock of the Month Club? Your complete granite countertop kit ready for installation will be mailed to you in 5 to 10 business days? There are ruts in my driveway so I had them FedEx me a yard of gravel? Anvils-R-Us? That one, I can use, and I shall be filling out an order blank soon. Ah, don’t worry, the pilots can handle it, and our postmasters are rugged on these islands.

I am in no hurry to see package delivery by drone.

Side note: we were watching the news the other night, snug and cozy at home, when a story about online holiday shopping mentioned “brick-and-mortar stores.” Paul leaned over and mentioned he’d been thinking about buying me some brick and mortar this Christmas. I told him, talk like that and he could end up in the newspaper column.

But islanders, like Wild West settlers and modern-day Alaskans, have always relied on mail-order. Back in the day, you could order your house, some assembly required, from Sears Roebuck. It helped if you lived near a railway station. These days, the kit, as it were, comes on the Viking Lumber trucks on the ferry. 

On December 22nd, the “last work day before Christmas,” supposedly, just before the flakes began to fall, we worked. That day would bring our one-and-only ferry for December (such being our regular winter schedule), with the Island Transporter substituting for the F/V Everett Libby, which was still in the shipyard. Aboard the Transporter was a lumber yard truck and a most heavily loaded pickup, both of which needed to be unloaded in a hurry and returned, empty, to the deck in less than an hour or be stuck here until next year. The neighbors muster to help. 

That day, one of the aforementioned pilots happened to bring a buddy along for a scenic ride to Matinicus while delivering the mail. They happened to arrive just as we were unloading the lumber yard truck. The pilot’s unwitting buddy ended up lumping Sheetrock during his brief visit to our storied isle. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, smallholder-farmer Lacey was still trying to corral the last couple of runaway ducks. Moving a backyard poultry operation to the mainland for the winter somewhat resembles loading frogs into a wheelbarrow. One duck simply wasn’t having it, and would miss the boat. On the wharf, as the birds in crates, cats in trucks, and dogs headed for the passenger seats were loaded aboard, somebody suggested the errant duck, once captured, could be mailed to Lacey on the mainland.  

“Why not? They mail chicks around every spring.” 

If you think it hard flying a pig, try mailing a duck.

With that, here’s wishing everybody a happy New Year from Maine’s most out-there community.