Maine is a small state in the northeast corner of the US, sticking up into Canada, and indeed 5% of the households are French speaking. There are no big cities and not many big buildings apart from down in Portland; this is a place of pine forests and a drowned jagged coast. There was a highway nearby but I never saw it because we kept to the rural back roads which were often overgrown with trees. It reminded me of Cornwall in its isolation. There was a make-do farming mentality among the people and barter was conducted at all levels from exchanging vegetables to car maintenance. Winters could be rough, people were used to helping each other out and they had a strong local community association. For me, it was verdant, remote and peaceful.
Settling in with my friends I determined to stay a few days and relax. In exchange I offered to help with any household tasks, they had only recently moved in and were still cleaning the place up. The first job was taking up the large lounge carpet, then beating the dust out of it on the clothesline with a rattan carpetbeater. Already I was going back in time to a more ancient existence, I felt like a puritan villager. In the quaint old house there was a good library and lots of magazines to read, of which I was to avail myself in the next few days, and there was no television to distract me. In the meantime I finished reading the magical and unnerving book The Tin Drum.
There were some other people lodging in the house, including Charlie and his girlfriend, everybody got along well, there was drinking, smoking and contemplation.