Friday, February 7, 2003
Here's to community!
So you work at home, or you're retired and have more time on your hands. Or you have just moved to town and wanted to get acquainted with your new neighbors. For many, it was the need for intellectual stimulation on a cold winter's afternoon. These were some of the reasons that resulted in an overflow crowd in Union Hall at noon on Wednesday, January 29, to hear
What I'm talking about is the Carlisle Lunch Group, organized by Fontaine Richardson, that meets three times a year and includes informal socializing beforehand, a catered, sit-down meal at 12:15 p.m., followed by a talk from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday's meeting marked the first time the lunch group has met since April 2002, and according to those who attended it was a wonderful afternoon. For the 98 attendees (largest crowd ever), Eliassen was thoroughly engaging and enlightening; the food was good; and conversations beforehand and at the dinner tables were interesting and enjoyable.
Here was an occasion that fostered a true sense of community in Carlisle, whether it was meeting an old friend, getting acquainted with a new arrival in town, or just recognizing the woman seated across the table as someone you've seen from afar at Town Meeting. For this highly educated community, the Carlisle Lunch Group, with its many outstanding speakers, is and has been one of the best ways to experience community in our small town.
One's own skating pond
When I moved back to Carlisle after several years in California, one of the things I looked forward to was winter outdoor recreation. I had always enjoyed sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice skating, and wanted my children to experience the same. When we were looking at the house we bought almost five years ago, we were excited about the added bonus of two skating ponds · one on which I had skated as a child, growing up on the same street.
I have fond memories of my childhood ice skating with the next-door neighbors on their pond, or on the pond of the house we now own, or on the swamp in the woods just beyond my parents' house. It seemed as if the ice was always available, and any snowfall could easily be pushed off with a shovel while skating.
Now that we have our own ponds to "maintain" there seems to be so much more work than I remembered, beginning in the fall, when twigs and small branches must be removed before they get frozen into the ice. Then the snow removal is a major project. Fortunately, our snow blower is portable enough, but storms earlier this winter and those of previous years dumped depths higher than its mouth, which made the task difficult. The worst thing is mixed precipitation of rain to snow, which results in a layer of slush. Eventually the slush freezes into a very uneven surface. We have even strung together all our garden hoses to reach the ponds and add a layer of water (on a day with the temperature above freezing) to help even out the surface. People with backyard rinks are already familiar with this maintenance work. "It's a labor of love," said a neighbor of mine with a rink. While public ponds, on town land or at Great Brook Farm State Park, are great fun for community skating, few seem willing to put in the effort for sufficient snow removal following a storm.
Also, the available skating times seem fewer than I remembered. Last year there was the drought that left our ponds nearly dry until mid-February, which only left a few days of skating before an early thaw. This year, heavy and mixed precipitation kept us off the ice until the second week of January. Then, during the long cold spell, we didn't even want to be outside to enjoy the skating. Sometimes my kids are too busy with other activities, or their friends are too busy. On several occasions, friends could not come because of a conflict with skating lessons!
But skating on a natural outdoor pond (complete with trees sticking out of the ice that you can skate around) is quite a different experience from skating in an indoor rink. We can appreciate the outdoors and nature. It is indeed a recreation and not an activity. We can be spontaneous, and kids can go out independently. So, even though there is a lot of work involved, and the skatable days may be limited, it is all worth it. I am sure my kids will grow up with fond memories of skating in their own backyard.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito