Friday, July 20, 2007
Summertime in Carlisle
While Carlisle faces several important issues in the days and months ahead, one wishes to take a break from thinking about bringing the state-mandated affordable housing to town or the Carlisle Teachers Association disagreement with the school superintendent. The appropriate town committees will be addressing these issues throughout the summer and this newspaper will be reporting on the progress that hopefully will take place.
Instead, for those of us spending time in Carlisle during these summer months, it is easier to focus on the joys of living in this small New England community with the wealth of activities taking place in and around town.
The Old Home Day celebration on June 30 and July 1 was the perfect kick-off for the 2007 summer months. Cool, sunny weather was just right for running in the Old Home Day road races, hiking up School Street to enjoy the pancake breakfast at the Congregational Church, viewing the parade from the Town Green, checking out the Gleason Library book sale, admiring the art show entries, and enjoying a delicious chicken barbeque supper in the fire station at day's end.
A trip to Tanglewood in the Berkshires to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra on a weekend is always a treat. What better way to enjoy a Saturday than attending a morning rehearsal in the Music Shed, followed by a picnic out on the lawn in front of the Koussevitsky House? And if staying overnight, there is always a play to attend at Shakespeare & Company in nearby Lenox.
Back home here in Carlisle, starting this past weekend and running throughout the summer and into the fall, is the Farmers Market. Located at Kimball Farm on Bedford Road each Saturday morning, from 8 a.m. until noon, the Farmers Market is a wonderful place to purchase fresh, locally grown produce, a variety of crafts and have an opportunity to meet up with folks you don't often get to see. I can't think of a better place to see an old friend and have time to chat.
For another outing, close to home, there are the Thursday evening Concord Band concerts at Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, Mass., throughout the month of July. Take a picnic supper to enjoy with friends beforehand, then spread out on a blanket to listen to the music and watch the sun go down over Mt. Wachusett off in the distance. This truly is an authentic American experience.
Right here at home, there are fewer cars on the road and more neighbors to be met out walking around the block. During the day with more time to relax, it's great to sit out on the porch with a good book in your lap. Then by evening time there is often the chance to catch a Red Sox game on the backroom television set.
So savor these quieter days of summer, for the fall is not so far off.
It's too quiet out there.
I am an inveterate neighborhood walker. I love walking along, looking at houses and gardens. I regularly traipse through neighborhoods in Lexington, Chelmsford, Concord, Carlisle and Acton and I can tell you an unnerving thing they all have in common — they are too quiet. No matter what time of day I wander past these lovely homes with large yards and often elaborate swing sets, there are no children rushing down the slides or running through the sprinklers, no bikes or scooters left briefly in the driveway. At dusk, no children run about the yards, hoping to get fireflies to land on their hands. Where is everybody?
We can all cite a reason or two for the dearth of children playing outside. Children are playing video games indoors, or busy with organized sports or lessons, or away at camp or in daycare. Parents are working, or fearful of predators or insect-borne diseases. These reasons are all valid, but whatever the reason, too many children are growing up nature-deprived. Richard Louv has written a fascinating study of this modern-day disorder called Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. In it, he not only details the shift away from the outdoor experience, but also posits something that I have believed for a long time — that "direct exposure to nature is essential to healthy childhood development." What I liked best about this book, though, is that it is not just another harbinger of doom, but gives solutions to bring about what Louv calls the "nature-child reunion."
Reading Louv's book proved to be an uplifting experience, and it put me in mind of another book that has become a huge bestseller both here and in the United Kingdom. The Dangerous Book for Boys (don't be misled; this book is as much for girls as for boys) was written by two brothers, Hal and Conn Iggulden, who tried out every direction and blueprint in the book themselves. It can be called a map that leads readers to all the places where imagination dwells. It is full of the lore that meant so much to us when we were kids: how to write in code, how to build a go-cart, how to juggle. It is the perfect book for summer days, and I dare any adult to pick it up and not find something in it that meant the world to him/her as a child. What I would have given for this book back when I was a kid!
I love the fact that so much of Carlisle's Old Home Day is held outdoors. Standing in the Mosquito booth at the Country Market on OHD, I found one of the best parts of the experience to be listening to the excited voices of kids and grown-ups alike as they ran (hobbled?) in the sack race, or hit the mark in the dunking booth, or sped their go-carts down Church Street. Those joyous sounds are becoming more and more rare these long summer days. I am hopeful, though, as I walk the all-too-quiet neighborhoods, that things may begin to change soon, and children will once again feel the soft tickle of fireflies on their hands.
© 2007 The