Friday, July 1, 2005
Happy birthday, Carlisle! And many, many more!
Carlisle threw itself a big birthday party last weekend, ending with a spectacular fireworks show that none of us who sat in awe on Spalding Field that warm June evening will ever forget. The two-day Old Home Day and bicentennial celebration — illustrated in the pictures in this issue — showed once again that the small-town sense of community in Carlisle is alive and well.
This party was not the product of a government-sponsored event planner. The celebrations were conceived, organized and paid for through the generous contributions of its citizens. Notices in the Mosquito and one long e-mail chain produced more than enough dollars to pay for the fireworks (although the celebrations were moved to the weekend before the Fourth of July in order to capture significant savings). Many generously offered their time and efforts, not a cheap commodity in today's world.
The Old Home Day program lists many contributors, some of whom — such as OHD co-chairs Dave and Florence Reed — have given of themselves for decades. For the past 30 years, Ron Kmeic has superbly organized (and run) the one- and five-mile road races. And so many others have returned year after year to work on the OHD committee, or simply to join the fun. The event would not be a success without the large numbers of citizens of all ages that run the races, bake the cakes, share their artistic and musical talents, and train their frogs for the frog-jumping contest.
Two hundred years ago Carlisle was a rural farming community, a half day's buggy ride out of Boston and Cambridge. Today most farms are gone, the population is ten-fold higher and Boston is 30-minute commute by highway (without traffic), but Carlisle still looks and feels like a small town.
What will Carlisle become in another 50, 100, 200 years? It's safe to predict that it will not stay the same. If New England continues to prosper, there will inevitably be more people, more houses, more traffic, more noise and activity of daily living. But, perhaps we will also have a community center that provides a gathering place for young and old, a network of paths that allows walking to the center and to our conservation lands, maybe a neighborhood café, and a continuing tradition of town celebrations. Most importantly, as long as its citizens continue to share generously of their time, their land, their imagination and their wealth, the small-town essence of Carlisle will be preserved.
Some starting sentences, in no particular order
• A cool wet spring, some warm summer days, and a few well-timed thunderstorms have transformed the waiting winter landscape into a lush, almost overgrown, dense conflagration of a marvelous variety of greens punctuated by bursts of pink, purple, and yellow.
• Winning the World Series last October has not diminished the pleasure of watching the exciting play of the Red Sox this spring and early summer — from familiar pleasures like Big Papi slapping his hands together before each big swing, Johnny Damon with his idiot hair and smart hitting, Trot Nixon's severely sweat-stained Sox cap, and Varitek's classy captaincy, to new pleasures like Clement's quirky chin beard, Renteria's big boyish eyes, and even the thrill ride of every trip to the bullpen.
• Notwithstanding all the hard work that went into it, the affordable housing plan just completed doesn't really answer any questions — and finding answers to the questions it raises will be a major challenge for the town in the coming weeks, months and years.
• My Old Home Day experience was a bit different this year because I missed the midway at midday as I was helping out with the library book sale on the sweltriest day of the summer thus far (though not for as long as my wife and other dedicated volunteers were sweltering there), but I did manage to skip out at the end for my traditional stint of playing softball* barefoot at Spalding, and what could be more fun than that?
• I am saddened, especially as I drive past the flags decorating town center for Old Home Day and the Fourth of July, by the proposed constitutional amendment banning flag burning that passed the House last week by an astonishing two-thirds majority of Representatives who seem to have too little faith in the country and too much fear of the very freedom the flag represents.
• When I received a call from my mother last month telling me she'd be coming home early from her Costa Rica vacation because of a fall that had broken her hip, I gave thanks for one of the greatest gifts this most generous woman has given me: deciding several years ago, while healthy and able to take care of herself, to move to a townhouse in a continuing care facility in nearby Bedford.
• I'm sitting here drooling as I anticipate the pleasure of eating the first fat slice of my summer's first strawberry rhubarb pie — sweet strawberries and tangy rhubarb baked together under a latticed crust — just removed steaming and gleaming from the oven to cool in an hour or so to a still-warm wonderfulness that will be perfectly complemented by a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Kimball's.
• There's little more unsettling, especially for someone whose livelihood, such as it is, depends on his computer, to have it (without warning and therefore before way too many new files have been safely backed up) start acting like it has become possessed — fan suddenly turning hyper, CD drive whirring ominously, monitor light throbbing faintly on and off, and then its screen going black as it goes into a coma, perhaps never to regain consciousness.
• I know it will hit me sometime this summer, but so far the amazing fact that my daughter has graduated from high school and will be heading off to college in the fall has left me numb.
*[If the glove I found after the game belongs to you, let me know, but if not, it's a great glove and I'll make good use of it.]
© 2005 The