The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 13, 2007



A new tradition

When does an event become a tradition? After five years? After ten? How about after three years?

In only three years the Farmers Market has established itself on the Carlisle summer schedule. It opens tomorrow at 8 a.m. at Kimball Farm with local vendors selling their home-grown lettuces, peas and other early summer produce that local gardens have managed to yield so far in this often wet, sometimes dry, occasionally cool and intermittently sultry New England climate. Carlisle vendors will also be selling eggs, honey, home-baked goods, garlic (of many varieties), jams and bread, to name just a few. Later in the summer, tables at the Farmers Market will be teeming with tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, incomparably fresh butter-and-sugar corn, zucchini and every other vegetable that grows here, along with rainbows of summer bouquets.

Shopping at Carlisle's Farmers Market in no way resembles prowling through the aisles at Stop & Shop or Whole Foods. We're unlikely to encounter cell phones in use here (poor reception, remember?), no harried husband asking, "Honey, do we need eggs today?" At Farmers Market, shoppers stop and talk to friends, meet visitors accompanying those friends, chat with the vendors and commiserate about gardening challenges.

Because here in Carlisle, Farmers Market is more than a shopping destination for fresh produce. For a few precious months it becomes a social center, along with the Post Office, the Transfer Station and Ferns, where residents come face-to-face with their neighbors instead of waving at cars. Farmers Market celebrates the best of small-town life, echoes Carlisle's rural heritage, and enables us to buy environmentally friendly, locally grown produce that did not travel here from parts unknown.

If you haven't visited Farmers Market before, here are some suggestions: bring along your own bags (reusable ones are recommended) and have some small bills in your wallet. They are a kindness to the vendors who can change just so many $20 bills fresh from the ATM. And come early — some vendors sell out fast.

Three years to establish a tradition sounds just about right, so Farmers Market can take its place alongside our older ones. The first Old Home Day, for example, with its emphasis on small-town, old-fashioned family entertainment, began in 1912. The Memorial Day parade, the Strawberry Festival, and the Spaghetti Supper are also well established on Carlisle calendars and contribute immensely to our sense that life is good here, an antidote for the world outside that will not stop churning.

See you tomorrow at Farmers Market — Carlisle's newest tradition.

Year of the Klutz

I like the number 7. Always have. Don't know why. So I'm feeling very betrayed by the year 2007, in which I have broken myself on two separate occasions: first my wrist, falling on ice, then, two months later (to the day), my ankle, while changing direction on my own front stoop. My kindest friends attributed it to bad luck. So much for 7.

A couple of weeks ago, they took the heavy cast off my shriveled leg, put me in a walking cast, and sent me to physical therapy, which is just a nice term for Walking 101. Remedial perambulation for the middle-aged (I've decided 54 is middle-aged).

All of which has given me reason to think about getting older and how the body changes without your really noticing. Yes, my arms became too short in my 40s, necessitating stronger eyeglass prescriptions every couple years. And yes, menopause has been really noticeable. But those are big, in-your-face things. I mean the more subtle things, like whether one can rely on one's feet to be where one thinks they are. I'm not really sure whether my multi-focal glasses or undue speediness were my downfall in the ankle incident. But I'm pretty sure that, in the future, I will have to spend more time thinking about walking.

That's not too hard to do now. With crutches and a Star Wars imperial storm trooper's boot on my leg, I think about every step. But when I get free of these encumbrances, will I go back to my heedless ways?

I don't want to spend my mental bandwidth on things I've always taken for granted. But it may be that thinking about walking could be more interesting than you'd imagine. There is project at the University of Pittsburgh, the Human Movement and Balance Laboratory, devoted to studying how and why people fall. These researchers are trying to determine whether it is possible to train people to keep from falling when they slip or trip. It is an interdisciplinary effort involving biomechanical engineers, otolaryngologists, doctors, and therapists, among others. They conduct controlled falls in labs and simulate slips on ice. The subjects get to wear safety harnesses (that's probably what I need for my life — just an overhead gizmo that spots me as I walk from task to task. Maybe Carlisle's Pathways Committee could add something like this, right after they put down that new surface, eh?).

The U. Pitt. lab also does computer modeling of what we do when we, for instance, hit a slick and start windmilling. All the stuff that happens at the beginning of a fall occurs in tenths of seconds. Not a lot of time to decide about corrective actions.

Why is there a whole center devoted to falling? Naturally, an aging population provides ample reason. But the lab also focuses on workplaces injuries. According to the Department of Labor, a quarter million people suffer injuries from falls a year, injuries that keep them out of work.

Meanwhile, I have friends who say tai chi is a good way to become more mindful about the body and movement. They say Paul Hackbarth's classes are great. Look for me in the fall, Paul.

P.S. Thanks to the many wonderful people in town who offered to take me places and bring me things while I was recovering. What a caring community.


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2007 The Carlisle Mosquito