Live and Let Roast

“No lives were lost.”

A wise New Englander once told me that this is the New England way of gauging whether you should be retroactively upset about an event, and then, of course, deciding, “Eh, no.”

Speaking of which: The Great House on Castle Hill was closed this past Saturday because of the heat wave — an extraordinary move by The Trustees, who own and operate the Crane Estate, and make, I assume, truckloads of money on house tours. My wife Kristina was a costumed tour guide there for four years, and our daughter Lydia Charlotte has now followed in her footsteps, and I can tell you from my vantage point of personal observation that those costumes are multi-layered and not designed for survival in a 95-degree heat wave. So I think The Trustees made a good call. The calculation probably ended up like this: Thousands of bucks made, from tours? Or millions of bucks lost, in a wrongful-death lawsuit? Plus, just imagine the bad press: a chambermaid in her black 1929-era uniform, sprawled prostrate on the imported parquet flooring of the Great House lobby, with EMTs trying to revive her, and John Muldoon of flitting about, snapping photographs.

But yes, it’s true. In the end, no lives were lost. (Unless somebody died of heatstroke on Crane Beach since this was posted, and now you’re sitting there reading this on your device and saying to yourself, “Of all the impertinence!”) It was, however, quite hot.

It was so hot, I saw a squirrel in our backyard negotiating with a blue jay for time in the birdbath.

It was so hot, the wrinkles in my skin smoothed out.

It was so hot, I took a tall glass of iced coffee out onto our screen porch, then went inside to go the bathroom, and when I returned, it was espresso.

It was so hot, the National Belligerence Review downgraded the Ipswich Watchdogs Facebook page to “mild.”

It was so hot, asphalt melted, and a number of North Shore potholes filled in on their own.

It was so hot, there was a clambake on Crane Beach without anyone lighting a fire. Clams were seen on the Rowley flats opening tiny umbrellas and guzzling thimbles full of beer. (Those should be really yummy clams, once the red tide has passed.)

It was so hot, George Blanchette reportedly offered frozen bagel cubes at Jettie’s in Ipswich as a lifesaving measure — which actually worked great in the coffee, and may set off a whole new iced-bagel-coffee craze. Stay tuned.

It was so hot, my mailman wore Kevlar gloves just to open my mailbox.

It was so hot, a beaver on the Ipswich River ordered a mini-fridge from Amazon, and when it arrived, he climbed inside.

It was so hot, ICE raids were suspended because government agents ran out of margaritas.

It was so hot, relatives in the Deep South texted their sympathies to family members living on the North Shore. (There were numerous misspellings, but not because of heat-related delirium.)

It was so hot, my neighbor filled her fire pit with ice cubes and suffered a head injury trying to dive in.

It was so hot, a number of my private demons returned to hell for respite.

It was so hot, the blue jay got a hundred dollars from the squirrel. There is nothing more disturbing than seeing a squirrel kicking back in your bird feeder drinking a margarita and wearing a MAGA hat.

It was so hot, enormous quantities of Down River ice cream in both the Rowley and Essex locations melted and flowed across the Ipswich line, which led to riots on Route 1 and 1A, and a number of medical emergencies, mostly Ipswich residents shocked to find their tongues glued to the pavement.

It was so hot, an enterprising monarch butterfly began selling milkweed shakes.

It was so hot, solar panels were steaming, triggering a number of calls to 911 from people who thought the North Shore was on fire, which it was, sort of, just without flames.

It was so hot, a runaway French poodle from Topsfield showed up at a barber shop pleading for a crew cut.

It was so hot, someone jogged naked through Willowdale State Forest, and instead of being arrested, they got a medal from the National Institutes of Health, even though they had no where to pin it.

Shocking, yes, perhaps. But what does it really matter? No lives were lost.



Doug Brendel lives next door to a cemetery on outer Linebrook Road, so if the heat kills him, he won’t have far to go. Follow him while he survives, daily at and weekly or so here at (In Doug’s other life, he’s trying to help hearing-impaired kids in the former Soviet Union. Please check out his project at


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