From observer to participant

90

With warmer weather comes Maine’s vital yard sale season. In the 21 years I’ve been writing this column, I’ve written more than a word or two about yard sales, garage sales, flea markets and all the other strictly cash enterprises that begin to blossom like ragweed over Maine’s verdant landscape.

I’ve enjoyed drawing attention – as if they needed my help – to these vital commercial endeavors that are the granite foundation of Maine’s wonderfully creative, untaxed and unregulated “cash-only” economy.

In all those years, I’ve seldom taken the time to actually go to a yard sales and have not had a yard sale of my own to write about. Everything I know about the homegrown phenomenon I’ve observed from a distance while just driving by yard sales. In my columns, I merely wrote about what I had seen.

All that changed recently when my wife decided to have a yard sale in our neat but not overly ostentatious yard here at Storyteller Central. For days she organized all our unwanted stuff into various piles until she finally had enough piles to cover the lawn with sufficient eye-catching objects. These objects have to be impressive enough to cause otherwise cautious motorists going by the house to recklessly jam on their breaks and come to a screeching halt in order to get out and have a good look at the items being offered for sale.

Everything was beginning to come together for the big day and everything seemed to be going well – except the weather. On the day of the big event, it was raining and the forecast was for steady rain throughout the day.

As everyone around here knows, if you’re planning an outdoor event in Maine during what’s supposed to be our warm weather season, it’s reasonable to assume that on the day you’ve selected for your special event the skies will suddenly open and the rains will fall like they haven’t fallen since Noah’s “rain event.” In fact, although the Bible doesn’t mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Noah’s wife was also planning a yard sale when the rains came.

My wife had made contingency plans, of course, so when the rains began to fall everything was moved onto the side porch and into the garage.

Despite the rain, bargain hunters began arriving before 6 a.m. My wife had to tell these soggy earlybirds that she wasn’t ready and sent them away.

At the designated hour she uncovered the tables, opened the cash box and began to sell. When the last of the browsers finally ambled down the driveway and drove off, my wife figured she had done well, despite the weather, which is all you can expect with a yard sale in May.

What did I learn from having a yard sale right here at my own place? I was surprised to learn that things like ice cream makers are no longer hot items. Our ‘like new” Rival Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Maker – although priced to move – stayed put, despite the fact that we still had the owner’s manual complete with recipes.

So, if you know anyone who wants to make some spiced cider sorbet in the comfort of his or her own home, I can get them a great deal on a Rival.

John McDonald is the author of five books on Maine, including “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia: A User’s Guide to Useless Information.” Contact him at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.