Friday, January 16, 2004
Good-bye to the Daisys
It was in the middle of December just as we were preparing for the holiday season to begin when we learned that the Daisy family would be leaving their business, Daisy's Market, in the center of town. The market would close on December 26 and would open in early January as Ferns Country Store under the new ownership of Carlisle residents Larry Bearfield and Robin Emerson.
After 11 years in the business and as the only store in town, Daisy's Market was an essential ingredient in the life of this community. Whether you were one of the students at the Carlisle School who made a short trek down to Daisy's after school for a soda and a bag of chips or a local workman who regularly stopped for a special submarine sandwich at lunchtime or a husband who stopped by on his way home from work for that desperately needed bottle of milk, Daisy's was always there for you.
Customers stopped by for Jonathan Daisy's homemade Congo bars, and pumpkin and zucchini cakes. I was a regular on Tuesdays or Thursdays for freshly baked Nashoba Brook Bakery sourdough bread. Then, if I could remember to order fish from Twin Seafood in West Concord on Wednesdays, I'd be at Daisy's on Fridays to pick it up.
We all had our own special relationship with the Daisy family and for many of us there was little time to say good-bye. So I take this opportunity to say good-bye to Alice Daisy, her sons Louis and Jonathan and their dad Bob Daisy. And good-bye to Judy Larson who worked at Daisy's for the past eight years. The kids will miss "that nice lady" behind the counter in the afternoons.
It was good to learn that Barbara Culkins, Bob Daisy's sister, will continue to work on weekends and that longtime regular Peter Brown and the rest of the staff will be staying on.
We send our best wishes to the Daisys and we wish Larry Bearfield and Robin Emerson well as they embark on their new venture, Ferns Country Store — our new store at the rotary in the center of Carlisle.
Change of scenery
Stepping outside the Continental terminal of the Miami airport last week, I scanned over the taxi queues and hotel shuttles until my eyes spotted the first indisputable evidence that I was on vacation — a palm tree. Even more than a change in temperature, which unfortunately is not always reliable, a change of scenery is what triggers my relaxation response. So imagine my distress when, driving through the swaying palmettos a few minutes later, my daughter casually mentioned that scientists are working on genetically modifying warm weather plants to survive in cold climates. While breakthroughs in this endeavor may not be imminent, eventual success may exact too high a toll on our sense of place.
Consider the homogenization of the man-made landscape that has already occurred. National chains have uprooted the stores, restaurants, hotels and even gas stations that made the downtowns in America unique. "McMainstreet" has not only assassinated local character; it has had a bewildering effect on our ability to locate ourselves in relation to the world. A former colleague of mine traveling for three days with a stop in three different cities was so disoriented when he arrived in another look-alike airport that he called his secretary and demanded to know, "Where am I?"
One impulse behind the proliferation of a national man-made culture is to bring choice to the hinterlands. I applaud the creativity which may increase the food supply by modifying plants to be able to grow in otherwise infertile soil. However, genetic manipulation, which merely replaces a New England orchard with a tropical mango grove just to allow northerners access to cheap mangos in whatever season, seems to be a misplaced priority. The typically American urge to exercise full individual choice about everything all the time paradoxically leads to a loss of real diversity. In the long run, a for-profit civilization cannot actually mass-supply truly individual choices. What it can supply is the same menu everywhere.
A well-defined sense of place which is rooted in diversity is critical to our psychological well-being. Sometime during early childhood we all learn that there is a boundary between ourselves and the outside world. As we grow we learn to maneuver and express ourselves in ever-widening circles of comfort. But at the center of this circle is how we see ourselves in relation to our familiar surroundings. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself in your most natural setting, chances are your vision will include the pines, maples and oaks outside your back door. If the landscape in Carlisle can look the same as Florida, California or Arizona, you could be anywhere, with one less point of reference. We need a psychological sense of place to stimulate us when we enter foreign territory and comfort us when we find our way back home. We should strive to keep the two places distinct.
© 2004 The