Into the Fray: Part Two

“Let’s go, Mom,” my daughter said as she burst into my bedroom to wake me up. I was supposed to wake up at 8 but I mistakenly set it for 9 (wishful thinking?). I gulped down a cup of coffee and a slice of toast with egg salad. Off we went with 2 large cardboard boxes, clear trash bags, several pairs of gardening gloves, ties for the bags and paper towels. One of the people who responded to my daughter’s call for volunteers to pick up trash today, had already been at it for over an hour. Anthony, clad in his bright red jacket, greeted us with a cheery smile and shared one of his finds with us.

He said that a Town truck had pulled up and picked up all the bags of beer cartons and bottles he had already collected and bagged.  This was not coincidental.  Apparently someone who works for the Town saw my daughter’s posting last night and called Town Hall to tell them to get someone down to the trash site asap “to save face” I suspect.  When my daughter and I arrived they were mostly leaning on their rakes, while Anthony worked.  We grabbed our gloves and bags and each immediately “adopted” our own piece of the landscape along the road to start cleaning up.

There were layers of garbage. Pick up an embedded bottle and you’d find plastic beer can holders, paper plates, and other sorts of plastic wrappers.  There were plenty of disintegrating foam pieces, too.  Mostly degrading cups, but quite a few larger pieces of boat foam as well. Maybe from coolers?

At that point John, a friend of ours, arrived and jumped out of his truck and into the fray.  Normally a quiet kind of guy, as he worked in the reeds, he fantasized out loud about how he’d like to hide in the bushes and attack the people who ate their lunches at harborside, probably in their cars, and threw their lunch trash onto the shoulder where we were working.

Then another volunteer arrived.  Elina has a lot of experience with cleanups as a member of a local conservancy.  She knew lots about which materials we were picking up could or no longer could be recycled.  She, too, jumped right in with her bags and gloves which she had brought with her.  A real garbage pro!  I loved watching her walk through the reeds speaking English with her lovely French accent as she picked up trash.

Finally, our sixth volunteer,Emily,  showed up towing her own garbage bag as well. Emily is a college student who saw our post and decided to help us out. She is tiny and thin, but before you knew it, she was dragging tires out of the reeds left along the shore of the wetlands. Emily is a superhero!

The six of us worked doggedly for a couple of hours and soon had most of the shoulder along the pond and the road cleaned up.  We had to leave behind many bags of yard waste probably dumped there by landscapers either too lazy to go to the dump, or to cheap to pay the cost of dumping their waste. Clearly, illegal dumping is as big a problem as drinking and dumping in this part of town.

I admit it was a challenge for me. So much leaning over to pick up trash made me dizzy several times so I had to stop and take a short break each time it happened. But mostly it felt good to do something for the environment.  Yes, this road is not owned by the local government. But nobody is doing anything about its upkeep and it is the gateway to our cherished harbor.  Not only is it hideously ugly, it’s a statement about the people who live here and boat here.  No one cares enough to do anything about it. Meanwhile all this plastic and disintegrating foam is leaching into the adjacent waters of the wetlands relentlessly rendering our waters more and more toxic.

The volunteers I worked beside today are my heroes. We were Four Feisty Women + 2 wonderful guys ranging in age from early 20s to early 70s.  I’m sure we made a difference today and I hope more people will join us next time.  Sadly, there’s enough trash around town to keep everyone busy for quite a while.

Before we began our cleanup:thumbnail (7).jpeg

After we completed our cleanup for today.thumbnail (8).jpeg

 

 

 

Advertisements

Back Into the Fray: Picking Up Garbage Along the Waterfront

My family and I became actively involved in local politics over a year ago.  Suddenly, luxury apartments were being built all over town with no regard for whether or not they met the needs of the residents (they do not…they are too expensive for the locals) or satisfied the regulations for new development (They do not; for one thing most of them do not have access to sufficient parking, causing a big parking squeeze in town.). In response our group became a local group that calls itself Save Huntington Village.

We have had a few major successes in that we have stopped at least two development projects and have put the town officials on notice that they are being watched very carefully. But we also realize that if we continue to “talk the talk,” we also have to “walk the walk.” So bright and early tomorrow morning, my daughter and I will join a few other local residents to begin to clean up some of the trash along the waterfront nearby.  This should be of concern to the town, but obviously it is way down on their list of concerns, if they even care at all.

How can you pretend to care about the quality of life in out town, and the quality of our watershed area and yet turn a blind eye to the garbage piling up around our harbor.  Shame on you, Town of Huntington! Here are some photos of what we’ll be working on tomorrow.  We’ll keep you posted.

 

Senility and Storytelling: A Date With the Moth

(Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center,NYC)

 

Many people listen to The Moth, a fabulous radio program in existence since 1997 that is delivered over NPR stations at various time slots throughout the week.  It features real stories told by real people… stories that usually focus on a pivotal point in their lives which left them wiser for having had their experience.

The Moth at Lincoln Center.jpeg

My husband is a fan, and I occasionally listened in when I was on my way to or from somewhere. Sometimes I’d even sit in the car when I reached my destination just to hear the outcome of the story; that’s how riveting the stories can sometimes be. Luckily,  a good friend of mine called recently to ask if I’d like to join her for the annual performance of The Moth at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Of course I said yes.

My friend and I hadn’t seen each other in almost a year though we only live about 40 minutes apart. On the way into NYC on the Long Island Rail Road we shared our latest war stories: Both of us are cancer survivors, and she is still undergoing “maintenance treatment” for her cancer. But the more interesting part of our conversation was about memory loss. She has an extremely vigilant West Coast daughter who has decided that her mother is losing her memory and needs to be tested.

To appease her daughter, my friend went through several tests, and the only one she had difficulty with was remembering five words about twenty minutes after they’ve been said to her. This happened twice.  I replied that I thought that I would probably fail the same test.  We exchanged more information about friends who are experiencing similar lapses, and about our own personal memory issues. To remember dates we now both diligently mark them on our calendars. I assured her she was not losing her mind, but was more or less in the same boat as the rest of us 70-something-year-olds, and she needed to tell her daughter  to back off.

It was a beautiful spring night in NYC. We really enjoyed The Moth. It was attended by a real NYC crowd of mixed ages: no tourists in sight.  And every seat was taken. Not only was I focused on the story tellers and the stories they told in response to the prompt: When Have You Experienced Something Magical Afoot in Your Life?, I was completely entranced by the fact that the huge audience was completely silent through the telling of each story and I only saw a couple of iPhone flashes during the program.  The behavior of the audience could serve as a model for all the audiences that are misbehaving at operas, theatre performances, movies, and concerts. We really enjoyed both the stories and the storytellers, our modern day griots.

As we stood on the subway platform to catch the train back to Penn Station, we shared our impressions of the event. We began to discuss which one or two of the five stories we’d liked best.  And then a funny thing happened: Neither of us could remember all five of the stories.  We looked at each other in horror. We made several more attempts and then I decided to look up the bio information about each of the story tellers in the playbill we were given.  That gave me enough details for me to remember the fifth story and storyteller.  All I needed was a clue.

We looked at each other again, and this time we both burst out laughing. “I won’t tell, if you won’t,” we both agreed. Upon reflection, it was my favorite story of the night!

(The newest and third collection of Moth stories, Occasional Magic, was available, so of course I bought one.  You might enjoy making  gift of it to your favorite story teller or reader…or to yourself.

Occasional Magic with The Moth.jpeg

In Tribute to Poetry and to W.S. Merwin, a Great American Poet

For the Anniversary of My Death
By W. S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

I love poetry. I have a couple of shelves of poetry books that I won’t part with. It’s not that I read it obsessively. Actually, I only read poetry now and then when the mood strikes me. Because it’s not like other reading. My mind has to be receptive to its silences, its insinuations, its craftiness. It challenges my mind while caressing it at the same time. I didn’t start out that way. I had to shed all the knowledge I had learned in school and learn to listen to it, really hear it, before I could love it. It makes me think that all children should be read a poem a day (or each week), with nothing said about it, the point being the listening. I think that would change the world.

Today’s Slice is a tribute to  much beloved American poet. W.S. Merwin whodied March 15, 2019, in Haiku, Haiku-Pauwela, HI at the age of 91. For more about him visit:
https://mailchi.mp/poetryfoundation/ws-merwin-1927-2019-ferlinghettis-100th-birthday-and-womens-history-month?e=4c11eb6dca

Exercising to Celtic Fiddling

 

(Above is one of my family’s favorite fiddlers, Natalie MacMaster, playing Cape Breton style Celtic fiddling with her uncle Buddy MacMaster.)

My back has been seizing up the past few days…not sure why. I’ve been walking more than I was a month ago, due to the nicer weather. And I have been going to my chair yoga classes 2x per week, most of the time. Tonight it started to become almost unbearable, so I knew I had to do some stretching.

I quickly put together stuffed peppers for dinner. I already had cooked the rice and cleaned and softened the peppers last night. All I had to do was sautee and season the ground turkey, mix it with the white rice, add some chopped tomatoes and seasoning, top it off with shredded cheddar cheese, and add some crushed tomatoes to the pan to keep the peppers from drying out as they cooked in the oven.

Meanwhile, in the living room, my daughter had been revving up her violins which is something she hasn’t done in quite a while. She was playing some lively and sonorous Celtic music by memory. I was amazed that she could still do that. I finally found my way to the living room floor and as soon as my body hit the floor I could feel how out of alignment it was. My torso was almost in a convex position. I knew I had to ease my back muscles to the floor to accomplish anything that would help my back, so that is what I worked on first. Meanwhile, C. kept fiddling.

Slowly I worked out this enormous kink in my back, got my torso to rest against the floor, and began stretching my legs and back in various, very gentle ways. Usually I prefer quiet when I am stretching but I was really enjoying the live music and the fact that she was having such fun playing it.

I squirmed around for a while longer, then just let my back hug the floor and let go. The music had taken over my brain and I just let myself go with it. I lay there for another 5-10 minutes enjoying the relief. My daughter was almost done playing her fiddle.

How lucky am I to have my own personal spa, complete with live Celtic fiddling. Maybe next time we can do Bach or Vivaldi together. By the way, the stuffed peppers were delicious!

What I Will/Won’t Miss About Winter

When Spring arrives…
I will miss the holiday season with family and friends
The warm glow of the fireplace as we sit reading together
The seasonal meals made from basic winter fare

I will miss the silvery blue sunsets visible from my front door
The bones of the naked trees against the wintry sky
The times when we are alone in the park during our walks

I will miss the quiet of the outdoors and the earth at rest
The dinners eaten in the den as we watch the nightly news
The warmth of a good cup of coffee on a chilly morning

When Spring Arrives…
I won’t miss how early the darkness descends on the earth
How short the days can sometimes seem
How long the nights can last

I won’t miss the lust for light that is so pervasive
The lack of time for being outdoors
The feeling of being stuck inside for days on end

I won’t miss the empty birdbath
The empty gardens in our yard
The prevailing colors of gray and brown

I welcome all seasons with anticipation
But I’m never sad to see them end.

Spring On My Mind and on Robert Frost’s Too

It’s nearly 6:30 and I still have the front door open with the storm door closed, so I can let as much light in as possible. Suddenly there is light in abundance. While cooking dinner and some extras for the past hour, I realized I was not as fatigued or frustrated as I am sometimes at the end of the day when my energy begins to run low. Could this also be because of the extra sunlight? I called a friend to walk in the park about two hours ago because the sunlight outdoors was calling to me. I just didn’t want to go into the house and spend the rest of the day there. Oh…I have lots to do inside…pay bills, file papers, answer mail, clean up the kitchen, do the laundry and on and on. But I couldn’t do any of it. I just wanted to be outside.

Next up is writing my Slice. I had absolutely no idea what I would write about but I wanted to get it done before my husband comes home and we eat dinner while we watch the news (MSNBC or the BBC). As recently as two months ago I would have sat in my recliner, opened the newspaper to catch up on the news while dinner is cooking and probably drifted into a semi-nap. Not today! I just want to get things done. I even shook out the hall rugs, swept the hallway and even the front stoop and steps.

How is this sudden shift in energy possible. Is it really the presence of more sunlight? My daughter who has SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is all smiles since Daylight Savings Time ended. She hates the long winter nights and the darkness. She can’t wait to take her after dinner night walks when the weather gets warm enough. They help her to calm down from the frenzy of the day and prepare for going to sleep.

I bought a nice paperback of “A Selection of Robert Frost’s Poems” today, entitled The Road Not Taken. I’ve never owned a collection of his poetry, so for a mere 50 cents I can now read him at leisure. Here’s his take on Spring, quite different from mine today. I leave you with his thoughts….

A Patch of Old Snow

There’s a patch of old snow in a corner
That I should have guessed
Was a blow-away paper the rain
Had brought to rest.

It is speckled with grime as if
Small print overspread it,
The news of a day I’ve forgotten-
If I ever read it.

(The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Frost’s Poems, Henry Hod and Company, NY 1971)

What are your thoughts about the onset of Spring?