Friday, July 27, 2001
I know that I have to live with mosquitoes if I want fireflies, and lofty taxes if I want open space. But what compensation do I get for living with the three-leaved predator that is greening our roads and trails? If I didn't know better, I might admire its perky posture, glossy leaves, and robust determination to cover the earth. But I have tangled with poison ivy, and I know that it's a plant only a dermatologist could love.
If you drive down Curve Street you are likely to see my balancing act, standing on the edge of the narrow pavement, caught between the huge construction trucks rumbling on their way to the neighborhood's eight construction sites and the green tentacles on the shoulder. My two terriers strain at their leashes and don't understand why I won't let them step off the road this summer. (I have it on good authority that the poison ivy antigen can survive happily on fur until it can transfer to skin -- mine.)
It doesn't have to be this way. There are solutions. One answer is to build pathways and keep them clear of the P.I. (This would also solve the pedestrians-versus-trucks problem, but that's another editorial.) DPW chief Gary Davis probably has his own favorite war plan against this enemy. Green Corner (see page 10) offers some good suggestions. Personally I like the way the Carlisle Conservation Foundation tackles difficult problems. Could we run the 200 hungry sheep down Curve Street on their way to their mowing assignment on Towle Field?
Another Trip To Bountiful
Eight o'clock and the sun is just beginning to set in the western clouds as we stand in the parking lot of Kimball's Ice Cream at Bates Farm. Since the midafternoon the lines in front of the windows have lengthened, then contracted at dinnertime, only to snake into the parked cars as twilight deepens. We find ourselves in the slowest line, as always. Someone ahead of us had ordered two Kimball's Specials and four gallons of Mint Chocolate Chip.
Half a dozen motorcyclists have just pulled in. They stand in line, resplendent in their tattoos, leather vests, beards, and fringes of long hair pulled back from their balding crowns. In another line a softball team in green jerseys, white shorts, and matching caps stands joking with one another.
Invariably, we meet friends, and together our children sky off to look over the animals several goats, sheep, and a brace of geese housed in a shed inside a pen across the driveway leading up to the old Bates farmhouse, now owned by Michael Kimball. The community that revolves around the school in fall, winter, and spring like clouds around the eye of a storm disperses in the summer. Still, tattered remnants can be found at Daisy's Market, the Library, less often at the Transfer Station, and here at Bates Farm.
Before each window in the stand hang lush baskets of blooming flowers. Several years ago someone sold plants and flowers displayed beside the ice cream shop. But that disappeared, along with the sandwich and gift shop some residents ran several years before the advent of the plant stand. And before the gift shop or Kimball's, the Bates family ran their own ice cream stand when a great white silo towered behind the stand. But that agricultural landmark leaned, tottered, and collapsed one spring day. Ice cream is the river that has run through all these transformations.
The sun slides below blossoming, rosy clouds on the horizon. Everyone in line starts to swat at the Carlisle town bird.
We near the head of the line. In front of us a first-time customer has ordered a large vanilla cone. A hand thrust from inside the stand window offers him an Alp of ice cream perched on a fragile cone. He begins to lick it, but the edifice totters like the old silo. As we ply him with napkins, he calls for a dish that arrives just as the structure sways gently onto its side. We arm him with several spoons, then order kiddie-size cones for ourselves.
All the staff at Kimball's young, older, male, female are beautiful, without exception.
Behind the stand children climb old apple trees, and parents wander by the luxuriant, overgrown garden near the site of the old silo. More ice cream tumbles from cones. Toddlers begin to cry fitfully as parents pack them off, along with older siblings still racing around the apple trees. Couples stroll across the lawn to look at the geese and goats. Darkness falls as the last western light is screened by thick maple leaves. The parking lot lights up with street lamps and the headlights of cars. The ice cream lines grow denser.
Once we spent ten days canoeing on the St. John's River in northern Maine. Our canoes tipped over in white water; everything got wet; campfires were smoky; mosquitoes threatened to carry us and our gear away. It was glorious. Then we drove a full day home without food to order Kimball Specials. There is no better life.
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