The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 30, 2005


Leaving footprints

Through the years, I have had the good fortune to work with a succession of excellent editors at the Carlisle Mosquito, and I have noticed a pattern — they have all managed to leave an indelible mark on the paper, each one building on the legacy of the former to create an ever-evolving town newspaper. From Kay Kulmala and Bonnie Miskolczy, through Carolynn Luby, Jackie Frey and Mary Hult, large footprints were left behind by these innovative news editors.

Maya Liteplo, who has just stepped down from her post as news editor, has left footprints too, quite stylish ones, actually. Maya leapt into the editorial role with a keen eye for perfection; her front pages were a labor of love. No one could craft a headline as succinctly as Maya, adding just a dash of humor to beguile the reader into taking in yet another report from a town committee. Editorial meetings with Maya were always enhanced by her occasionally impish sense of humor, and this helped make her editorials well-crafted works of gentle persuasion.

More than anything, Maya encouraged us at the newspaper to expand past our limits. No one since Kay Kulmala pushed so hard for us to participate in the New England Press Association's yearly newspaper competition. It was at Maya's insistence that we compiled "Headlines from Other Towns." She pointed out that, even though these events were happening outside our borders, they all too often impacted us and our future.

In keeping with this tendency to think outside the box, Maya has offered to focus her Mosquito energy on the occasional in-depth news article, the kind of article we rarely have the manpower to produce here. It has long been a goal of ours to offer such reporting, and Maya will help to make it a reality, continuing to mold and shape the Mosquito in her own inimitable way.

Fossil fueled

I've added a new wrinkle to the energy sources powering my daily commute. (Several, in fact, if you count separately each of the crow's feet around my eyes.) Weather permitting, I'm riding my bicycle rather than driving to and from the Concord train station.

Several factors have provoked the change. Our younger son worked in a bicycle shop all summer before leaving to study and cycle in Italy for the year. To meet our parental responsibilities (wink), my wife and I will visit him soon, as members of a bicycle tour along the Tuscan coast. To survive the trip, I need some training.

I am also inspired by our older son, who commuted from Carlisle to his summer job in Harvard Square entirely by bicycle. Even in his free time, he foreswore use of our cars out of concern for conservation.

Coinciding with my need for exercise and my son's example of conservation came the recent shocks to gasoline supplies — and prices — following Hurricane Katrina. The price increases brought new attention to longer term questions of supply and dependency.

So far I have adopted a fairly low-key approach to my ride. I pedal at a leisurely pace (avoiding a sweat), allowing me to dress in my work clothes (with tie and suit coat packed). The ride from my home to the train station takes me just over twenty minutes, compared to the fifteen I budget when I drive and park. With some planning I could shower and change at work; that would let me ride in sloppy conditions, and at a faster pace, without worrying about my wardrobe. But the biggest surprise to me has been how few adjustments were required to implement the basic shift.

Meanwhile, news reports confirm the wisdom of my son's clarion call to conservation. At a world energy conference in Vienna a few weeks ago, a reputable expert predicted that world oil production will peak in the late fall of this year, then decline until the world's supply is depleted. With rapidly rising consumption by large and fast growing economies, particularly China, that depletion will occur within the foreseeable future, regardless of any reductions we might achieve in domestic consumption. The more reassuring forecasts suggest that we have enough oil to meet our requirements for the next generation or so. My sons, perhaps envisioning their potential children, are not comforted.

There are days when cycling to the train station is impractical. Sloppy weather conditions are a challenge, one I could probably meet with some planning. But some evening commitments in Boston make the homebound train schedule inconvenient. I suspect my new resolve will not persist past the days when the clocks change, when the temperature plunges or when the snow flies.

I do not imagine that I may wean myself from gasoline simply by cycling to the train in the morning. But the ride is healthy and pleasant, and it gives me time to think about other ways I might reduce my use of oil, and what I will do when there is no more.


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2005 The Carlisle Mosquito