Friday, April 10, 2009
What was the Boston Globe talking about in the article “Walk This Way” in the Globe West Section on Sunday, April 5, when they tagged Carlisle as an unwalkable community? In a ranking for “Just how walkable is your neighborhood,” according to the Globe the website Walkscore.com scored Carlisle the lowest (23 - Car Dependent) and Lexington the highest (88 - Very Walkable). Yes, they were right when they say that most of us living in Carlisle can’t get to restaurants, stores, and other amenities without getting in our cars. But Ferns Country Store, last time I looked, is not located “a mile and a half from the town center” as reported in the Globe. What the Globe did not understand is that those of us who live in Carlisle didn’t move here to be close to a supermarket, a pharmacy, a restaurant or a movie theater.
Carlisle is a very walkable town if you look at it from a “Green” point of view. One-third of the area of Carlisle is conservation land. According to Louise Hara of the Carlisle Trails Committee, there are over 40 miles of trails in our community. There are Great Brook Farm State Park, the Estabrook Woods, the Greenough Land, the Towle Land and other conservation lands on which to explore miles of trails.
And in recent years the town has been building footpaths along the sides of the busy major roads leading in and out of the town center. People can now walk safely to the post office, the library, a country store, several churches, an ice cream stand and the farmers market during harvest season. I live in a quiet neighborhood where people can walk a comfortable two-mile loop on Estabrook Road, Bellows Hill Road, Russell Street, Robbins Drive, Autumn Lane and Kibby Place. On this past beautiful spring Sunday afternoon, there was a steady stream of walkers passing by my house. There are other parts of town where taking a walk “around the block” is quite accessible.
I do admit that a car is necessary for shopping, going to a movie theater or going out for dinner at a restaurant. But we all knew this when we moved to Carlisle. And as the Boston Globe reported in its Magazine section several weeks ago, when identifying “Top Spots to Live”, Carlisle was named as the top town for nature lovers. “Carlisle is the very definition of small-town New England, with plenty of red barns, white church steeples, and low stone walls dotting the rolling hillside,” wrote the Globe.
The Boston Globe should get its stories straight. No, we Carlisleans didn’t expect to walk to a thriving downtown center. And yes, we live in Carlisle where we can take a walk on a roadside path or go for a walk in the woods. ∆
While visiting in Florida, we attended an air show at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City last week. Tyndall is a virtual world unto itself, occupying 15 square miles of beachfront property in the Florida panhandle. It has its own elementary school, waterfront base housing, boating facilities, an 18-hole golf course, healthcare facilities, barber shops and commissary. It is also the home to the 325 Fighter Wing, the primary site for training and deployment of the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor fighter planes. Their mission is to, in their words, “Provide World-Class Training to GUARANTEE AIR DOMINANCE!”
The air show is free to the public, and the operation is run like clockwork. In addition to Air Force pilots demonstrating the latest fighter jets, the Army had a crack team of Cobra helicopter pilots demonstrating their capabilities, and the Golden Knights parachute team put on a dazzling display of free falling and pinpoint landing. The headliners were the Navy’s Blue Angels, based in Pensacola, Florida, about 100 miles to the west. Unlike the Air Force, the Navy flies the F-18 Hornet. All the various displays of firepower and talent were accompanied by scripted announcers espousing the prowess of our warriors to the accompaniment of patriotic music and rock bands. It was so breathtaking and well orchestrated that I wanted to enlist on the spot. Who could resist after seeing and hearing the roar of these magnificent flying machines flying 100 yards off the deck at speeds of 500 miles an hour and then turning on a dime and heading straight up until out of sight in a flash. Mind boggling and awe inspiring.
Also, kind of surreal. I found myself wondering: What will be the role of these highly trained airmen with their 100 million dollar airplanes in the future? The announcers themselves posed the question when they stated that “No one in the world can challenge our warriors!” Yet, the next generation of fighters, the F-35, has already been funded by Congress at an expected program cost of $200 billion and will be deployed beginning next year.
To say that the world as we knew it changed on September 11, 2001, is an understatement. I have heard Ambassador Holbrook and General Petraeus state repeatedly that there is no military solution to that which we deem to be the greatest threat to our safety, yet the same kind of spending that caused the Soviet Union to crumble is still being pursued as our government’s primary “defense” strategy. And this is in addition to the largest government spending and borrowing proposals in the history of the world. My heart tells me to continue to be optimistic, yet my brain and my guts tell me we’re headed for a very uncertain future for our children and grandchildren. We have many displaced European friends who now live here and ask us, “Whatever makes you Americans think you can borrow and spend your way out of debt?” What do they know that we don’t?
© 2009 The