Every now and then we are reminded why we live in what most of us consider being one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We are also reminded as to why we should ignore all politics. Some times this happens when relaxing during a hot and humid day in July while relaxing on the beach and sometimes this happens simply by gazing out into the pure white of a January storm. This happens every day but some times are more memorable then others. One of these more unforgettable scenes happened the other day as my wife and I were having our morning coffee.
I caught a glimpse of a young mother desperately attempting to show her daughter how to ride her bike. The first thing I noticed was the bike. It was white with pink trim. In fact, the tires were white and the spokes of the wheel were pink. The bike was obviously new because it shined like all new bikes were supposed to and it also looked as though it never hit the ground. This, of course, changed in front of my driveway.
The young child learning to ride the bike was wearing a pink helmet that must have come with the bike. She was also wearing what appeared to be wearing a shiny riding outfit that was, of course, pink. The young mother, on the other hand, was wearing what appeared to be some sort of lounging attire, which had little color. I assume this was to assure all the attention was placed on her daughter who was about to learn how to ride her bike.
The reason they stopped in front of my house was the mother decided to let go of the back of the seat so her daughter could ride off into her next decade of riding with her friends across our entire town. Up to this point I assume she held the back of seat on the bike in order to show her daughter how to balance her first means of transportation. The concept was good but the results had a lot to be desired because the brand new pink and white bike had encountered its first spill in front of my house.
The mother was quick to see if her daughter was ok and I smiled as I watched the young child push herself away from her mother in an attempt to show all was fine and needed little assistance to get up from her first fall. What made this scene even more entertaining was riding around the mother and daughter was a young man who obviously learned how to ride his bike years before. He was obviously showing off to his assumed mother and sister by circling both of them with dexterity and speed.
Finally the young child brushed herself off, yelled at her brother and climbed back on her bike with the assistance of her mother holding onto the back of the seat. Off they drove with the brother speeding down the road in front of them but this time the mother did not take the chance to let go. I am looking forward to the day when I watch that same child speed down the road with her brother in front of my house on her shiny new pink and white bike.
A couple of days later I was working in my office that happens to be on the second floor of my house overlooking the backyards of my neighbors. I love this room because it lets me gaze out the window into a world that represents serenity and security. The lawns are always manicured and the trees grow taller and thicker as the years pass by. On this particular afternoon I watched three young men who were probably in their pre-teen years start to build something out of scraps of plywood and old two-by-fours. I also noticed four bike wheels of seemingly different sizes.
I smiled as I watched them argue as to how to build what they were trying to build. Then after about an hour I watched them attach the wheels to what looked like the base of a wagon. This was done with excitement and little discussion. It was as though they knew exactly what had to be done. Finally they completed their task and I watched as the three of them proudly stared at what they had built out of what earlier I had considered little more then nothing.
For the next couple of weeks I watched these same three young men ride around my neighborhood on their contraption. They invited some of their other friends to enjoy the spoils of their work and what surprised me the most was it worked quite well. In fact, after about a week they decided to put a kind of wrapper on the wagon that made it look like one of the old covered wagons of the early west. I giggled to myself wondering why some people thought our children had lost their ingenuity and imagination. I guess those same people stopped looking for it years ago.
During another early morning having coffee with my wife, which is one of my favorite times in my life, I caught a glimpse of an elderly gentleman slowly walking down the road past my house. He was wearing a wide brimmed straw hat, a yellow collared shirt, a pair of brown shorts, white socks, and what appeared to be a gray pair of sneakers. The white socks where perfectly worn around the calf’s of his legs and what made the largest impression on me was his head was held high in an almost dare to have his years stop the progression of his walk.
He also held a wooden cane. I don’t believe it was straight but because the gentlemen walked with a strong gait it seems the cane was not used for the purpose of balance but rather as a trophy he had succeeded to survive his years. I watched him pass my house not looking to his right or left but always straight ahead. For the next few weeks I watched that gentleman enjoy his morning walk. It has been over a week since I saw him. I pray all is well but I still smile knowing that whatever happened was controlled by that gentleman with the cane.
Living on the coast of Maine it would be difficult to picture a more homespun scene then that of four men on a fishing boat off our rocky shore. This happened to me last week as I decided to join some friends on my neighbor’s boat. Three of us were of Italian heritage that made our skin dark from the sun and allowed us to go shirtless even though the thought of doing that in public would never happen. One was of Irish heritage that made him bundle up inside shirts and towels perpetually looking for number-75 sun block in order to survive the night that would follow the day.
We ended up where the York River meets the ocean near some large rocks that seemingly guard the entrance. We anchored there and laid down our lines hoping we could at least bring home some stories about what we almost caught. Personally I was in fear that I might just catch something and have to do what I have no clue as to what to do.
Waiting for our lines to scream that something was caught on the other side we talked about everything from neighborhood rumors to national politics. We argued war, economy, elections, weight, baldness, taxes, and death. Sometimes our voices grew loud in an attempt to out shout each other. Other times we waved our arms and hands in disgust to possibly show the other person had little argument or attempt to hide the fact that maybe we were wrong.
I tried to take my mind out of the boat that afternoon and imagine what the scene would look like from a distance. I smiled in the realization that many a oil painting must have been produced by the thoughts of someone whose mind’s eye imagined what we were doing on that particular day where the river met the sea.
I could go on for volumes describing scenes I have enjoyed during the past few summer months that reminded me of Norman Rockwell’s paintings of times gone by. The beauty of this is that the concept of times gone by simply does not exist in a place we all call home.