Friday, May 8, 2009
A connected community . . .
A recent Globe feature described Carlisle as a prime spot for those who liked the outdoors but added that it was not a very walkable community. The piece generated a certain amount of huffing and puffing on the part of Carlisle residents who like to be outdoors and consider the miles of trails and the existence of footpaths that encourage walking a major perk of living here. Quantifiable information on any community such as the Globe presented, with figures about population, house cost, tax rate, transportation, etc., may be found on any realtor’s bookshelf and, though valuable for its purpose, is only one kind of information. At about the time the Globe article ran, I had an experience that provided another way of assessing our town.
The scene is the post office, where I had gone to buy stamps and ended up last in a line of about five people. A mother carrying a sturdy toddler (not a bad idea in a lobby crowded with colorful, small, graspable objects), someone with a parcel that needed to be weighed and stamped, a father and a young child and a bunch of envelopes, perhaps someone to collect a certified letter. The transaction at the counter was taking time, so we all had to wait while the line accumulated and eventually reached the door. A couple of small conversations started, a man offered to hold the toddler, who must have been getting heavy, and when my turn came the child’s mother asked if I wanted to go first. Kevin, Carlisle’s long-time postal clerk joined our talk from time to time from behind the counter and in fact it seemed as if we were all as much a part of the same conversation as if we had been seated at the same dinner table. Relaxed, comfortable and at ease though only one or two us seemed to be acquainted and, again like a good dinner party, we went on our way refreshed and nurtured by our experience together.
The easy and enjoyable wait in a line at the post office recalled those Saturday morning post office lines before Christmas when Bill Brown would bring his fiddle and play carols (and take requests) in the same post office lobby. What happened there that was important could be duplicated in a chance encounter at the Transfer Station, in a Saturday morning trip to the Farmers Market when a chance encounter with a neighbor turns out to be more meaningful than what you found to buy, and where the easy pace and early morning freshness contribute to a sense of well being. When we sit at Town Meeting, patiently and hopefully waiting for a quorum and then cheer when that quorum is achieved and we can go on with the town’s business, we enjoy in a similar communal enjoyment. We have done it together!
In the long run, many treasured and memorable moments have occurred in unplanned and certainly non-quantifiable occasions when we enjoyed our connectedness. It is the quality of these experiences, rather than statistics gleaned from a compendium of New England communities, that make life in this town rewarding and meaningful.
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito