Martha Mayo was in the locker room at the Y this morning as I rushed to pull on my sneakers for a quick mile on the track before work.

Martha is a prismatic legend in Bath for her sing-alongs and community service (and so much more). If there was a Council of Elders, Martha would surely be the grand dame of the City of Ships.

She’s all that to me, sure, but she’s also the mom of two cherished childhood friends, and when she looks me in the eye and says, “You haven’t written any editorials. Why haven’t you written any editorials,” nothing that’s true makes any sense at all.

Sometimes it’s hard to have small town things to say when it seems our country is half-cocked for disaster in any number of critical ways.

But let me tell you how good my maple oat toast tasted from the loaf I bought at Wild Oats Bakery in Brunswick last week with jam I made from backyard raspberries.

Let me tell you about the scrap of leather I bought at the Chewonki Craft Fair. A couple of Midcoast makers at Milk Weed Leather Works turned it into the most perfect holder of my special art pens and pencils that I can roll up and tuck in my bag.

I’ve been reading about the Danish concept of hygge (hoo-ga) as the ice settled around my home and office, closing like a crystal prison as winter settled in for a good long bitter stay.

All I wanted to say these last six weeks is I’m very worried about our country.

My high school sophomore thought the Twitter account of our president was a fake joke account set up by a comedian. I couldn’t believe I had to explain that it is – allegedly – real.
And so on.

“Why haven’t you written any editorials?”

I had nothing that would make any difference to say.

About a week ago, Patrick Henry, a poet and professor, wrote to me from Walla Walla, Washington, hoping to buy an In Your Eyes calendar because his niece’s photo was in it.

We’re sold out, but Pat and I corresponded a bit because I really liked the tagline in his email:

Nine Keys For The Next Four Years

1. Get plenty of sleep.

2. Get plenty of exercise.

3. Don’t deprive those around you of your love.

4. Stay busy intellectually.

5. Don’t look at the whole political picture at once; it makes you feel helpless.

6. Pick one issue (health care, climate change, immigration, etc.) and work on it locally. Be sure to call your representatives often about it.

7. Remember every day: If I don’t have my act together, I’m of no use to anyone.

8. (Added by Pat’s friend Tess Gallagher) Your anger is only as good as the creative actions you can imagine, stimulate, and/or take on behalf of it.

9. Beware: The Iceman Cometh.

I could pull on my English instructor cap and discuss why ending the list with a reference to that play by Eugene O’Neill is brilliant, but I don’t have enough space on the page to digress.
It’s enough to say that a little bit of light splashed across my darkened desk when I read Pat’s list.

Hygge (hoo-ga) is hard to translate into contemporary American English, as I have no pop culture filter I can apply to the sense of intentional comfort I believe this Danish idea embodies.

“Circle the wagons” … that might be an Americanism I could use. Except we’re not sticking together in case we’re attacked (or maybe we are), forced to draw close because there’s something scary just beyond the light of our shared fire (or maybe there is).

One step closer to hygge is valuing the personal, the one-on-one, the fabric of here and now … the local, not just food and merchandise, but neighbors, strangers, and friends, all of it. All that makes up this place we have chosen for our homes.

It doesn’t matter if your zip code is 04530 or 04011 or 04543. That’s just your address. Midcoast – it’s people and places, its makers and markets – is our home.

How low can we go? I find myself asking this after every barrage of Tweets, and every night after the evening news.

But a better question is how lo … cal? How local can we go?

Martha, I am sure, would approve.