Friday, September 12, 2003
Because of a publishing problem last issue, this Opinion page was not printed in the newspaper but was presented here online. As the newspaper is now printing this page, we are repeating it here.
Two bucks to watch the ducks?
Change is never easy for Carlisle. We particularly dislike any changes or restrictions on the use of our green spaces, so it is not surprising that the new two-dollar parking fee at Great Brook Farm State Park has resulted in a boycott of the recreational area and the ice cream stand. It's not the two bucks (a latte is over $3); it's the fact that someone on Beacon Hill is reaching into our pockets one more time, spoiling the simple pleasure of stopping to watch ducks on the pond for a few minutes.
While the Town of Carlisle does not own or run the state park, we have a very close and personal relationship with this lovely piece of land and its picture-perfect farm. It's Carlisle as we want to see it. It preserves our agricultural history. And the people that run the dairy farm, the cross-country skiing barn, and the entire state park are our Carlisle neighbors. We do not suffer meddling by outsiders.
However, on Monday morning we must deal with the realities of the 21st century. It's unlikely that the governor will discontinue the parking fees in the next year as the state faces the highest deficits in recent history. As the park system struggles with cutbacks, we are fortunate that the most of the recent Great Brook Farm upgrade project was completed. A beautiful new post-and-beam building now provides needed rest facilities and room for interpretive programs; wider walks improve access; new park benches and strategically placed large rocks offer seating. We must appreciate that the heavy lifting is done, even though the landscaping needs tweaking.
Small dairy farming is at best only marginally profitable in New England today, forcing farmers to look for sideline ways to make money. In addition to milk, Mark and Tamma Duffy sell ice cream, loam, manure, cranberries, and tickets to their corn maze. They have it harder than other farmers; not only must they run the dairy farm efficiently, they must keep it pretty, photogenic, and educational. We should not make it any more difficult for them. Hopefully park supervisor Ray Faucher can help the Duffys find a way to minimize the impact of the parking fees that make their retail operations less accessible. Could the ice cream stand, corn stand, and other warm-weather businesses be moved to the cross-country skiing barn which has its own parking lot?
In years past, long-term Carlisle resident Al Peckham organized and incorporated a "Friends of the State Park" non-profit group that raised funds, arranged work parties, and provided ideas for improving this wonderful resource. While the organization still exists on paper, it is inactive. What it needs is a new leader to step in, and then others will follow.
So let's ignore the petty insult of the state's nickel-and-diming, overlook a few weeds, keep a few dollar bills on the dash and find ways to help preserve our treasures.
Recycling our treasures
One of the high points of the weekend for my husband Brian is going to the transfer station. After 20 years in Carlisle, we have finally stopped referring to it as the "dump" (most of the time). But within the transfer station lies the highlight of Brian's trip: the opportunity to look in and around the swap shop.
Brian has found many swap shop treasures over the years. He has brought home non-working televisions, vacuum cleaners, fans, stereos and his favorite, lawn mowers, which he collects like some people do stamps or coins.
Now of course this type of "hobby" doesn't appeal to everyone (me included). But to people who like to "tinker" it is heaven. I have overheard conversations among Brian and a few of his friends as they compare their "finds." Apparently, there are key times to hit these bargains, but I am not privy to this information.
There is definitely a degree of satisfaction that comes from resurrecting a broken appliance. I am in awe of people who have the skills to figure out how things work, and the talent to repair something mechanical. I myself struggle with multi-step dessert recipes.
When it comes to furnishing items for the swap shop, Carlisle citizens are very considerate. A couple of years ago, the soon-to-be former owner of one particular lawnmower was carefully maneuvering his broken machine out of his car, when Brian asked if he needed a hand. As Brian was helping, the man also placed the rear bagger attachment and the owner's manual beside his lawn mower; all of the pieces were to be given away. As soon as the two men had unloaded the mower from the donor's car, the same two lifted it into, you guessed it, our car.
There is a good feeling about donating some outgrown items to worthy organizations that will find people who can use them. However, there is also a special feeling in seeing our neighbors get some joy from things we no longer use.
Brian and our daughter, Pami, witnessed this first hand when our gerbil cage was no longer needed. The cage was painstakingly cleaned and brought to the swap shop. As the cage was carefully placed on the shelf, a father and daughter entered the shop, and the little girl's face lit up. Within 30 seconds, our former pet home was on its way to becoming the perfect new home for another pet.
Carlisle residents, please continue to donate your gently used commodities to your favorite organizations. But if you find yourself wondering where to unload something that has sat unused in your home for years or is no longer operating, consider the swap shop. Believe me, you will make many of your neighbors very happy. When Brian has brought home a particularly challenging "new toy," he can't wait to take it apart. I just wish he would stop saying he is going shopping for me when he pulls out of the yard on Saturdays.
© 2003 The