One, Two, Three, HIKE!

Good follow-up to a night of ‘toasting’ with Big Dave’s bridge pals: We hiked up Rattlesnake Hill.

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Encountered:

two big dogs,

several slews teens, all affectionately pawing one another,

and dozens of young parents urging their kids along with everything but electric cattle prods.

David, good host that he always is, carried a sack of drinks, so that when we got to the top we could have a Sprite Zero, a Bud Light, or a wee can of Strawberry Margarita, the latter two perhaps being somewhat in violation of trail rules…

…which may account for this image: The person behind the camera thought he was shooting a picture on my i-Phone but turned out to really be shooting a video.

Oh well! Love his laugh, anyway.Good old Charlie! Then David took this picture of toothy me. REALLY NICE WEEKEND WITH REALLY GOOD FRIENDS.. 🙂 

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Vintage Friends

What a break after a period of hustle and bump to have a whole day-and-a-half of quiet fun at the house of these two, who know even better now how to have fun even than they did when they looked like this.

Bobbie I know from summer camp when she was my counselor. The same year this picture was taken I made her to come to Mass with me one winter Sunday in an effort to  get her to re-subscribe to the whole long list of Hellfire Do’s and Don’ts the Church was so obsessed with then. She was a junior in college coming to see her 12th grade friend, and sat so sweetly through my sermons, then went back to this fine boy seemingly unharmed. I’m just realizing that at the same point in my own college years I too found a fine boy, who almost shortened the life of the people who raised me by being a Protestant.

Though the four of us still fly and drive and trudge through epic snowfalls to see each other this past Wednesday I came on my own to our friends’ nice stone house. They erved a pork roast that cooked for six hours in a slow low oven; a wine reduction sauce, pears in maple syrup, and a salad of greens, toasted almonds and root vegetables, all preceded and accompanied by two red wines so smoothly great my astonished taste buds almost made  my whole head lift clear off my shoulder in delight.

I slept like the dead in a cool high room, scribbled my little scribbles, did a Body Pump Class and watched 3 glorious episodes of a favored HBO series with my old pal before 5pm rolled around and she brought me back to the airport.

Home now, I look at these pictures and think that they are just the same, these two, still ready to stride out in the chilly sunshine and perch on a log; still willing to open their house to this same old weary traveler.

Bobbie at 20

Friends

At our reunion this past week this formerly tiny girl Trish told a story about being a little kid in school when the teacher made everyone go home and draw a picture of what their daddies did for work. “I figured I had it knocked,” she said. “My daddy ran a funeral home AND he was dead! So I made a picture of this little guy standing next to a coffin and I was so proud. But then I got to school and the teacher wouldn’t hang it.”

When she told her mother, her mom got mad in exactly the right way. “She said  the teacher never should have asked about people’s daddies. The teacher should have said, “Draw a picture about the work that someone in your family does.”

This must have come up as we talked about the camp’s  big Visiting Day Father-Daughter Softball Game, which made me cringe every time because I didn’t have a father anymore than Trish did. But Trish was younger, this tiny darling child made much of by the visiting dads even though her tiger of a mom was right there acting as the camp nurse. My mom was there too, for all that; she and my aunt ran the camp.  But I was older than Trish and so felt mostly shame the way older kids will. In fact when we went to see the old place Wednesday my cousin Sheila recalled the time when we were around 12 and the two of us stole away to the lake, where I cried about my fatherless state.

I had forgotten all about this until it was recalled it to me by Sheil, who even today is like my second sister and that is why people should stay close and make a family of their friends: Because in this life daddies are by no means guaranteed, no, nor husbands either. So just  keep making friends, for your friends you will always have with you.

Sheila and I, friends even then

Build Grow Move Build Grow Move

Reunions Magazine has just quoted part of a column I wrote about a mini-reunion with my college pals. Only thing is they have me down as a columnist for the Norwich (CT) Bulletin whereas in fact I am a Columnist for the World in the sense that my little words go far and wide, which is a great source of satisfaction for me even if there’s no money in it. (350 papers in Massachusetts alone have access to my column and many of them use it. My compensation? $15 a week.)

But never mind that. Here’s what the Reunions issue labeled November/ December/January 2010 quoted from that piece. It was kind of the big finish:

And in the end this reunion seemed to be just what any school reunion should be: a field trip of the imagination to the time when we would gather in small groups to joke and commiserate and tell fond semi-mocking stories about our families, who turned out not to seem so crazy after all when compared to other people’s families; to a time before we were tied in tight to this world by the cords of love and obligation; to a time when we believed – really believed – that Time would never touch us.

Ah but Time touched us all right. Time turned us and turned us, forcing us to grow as the chambered nautilus grows. That little creature inhabits one ‘room’ of his delicate shell, grows, builds a new, larger room, moves into it, grows, builds a new, larger room, moves into that, etc. until he has that lovely circular condo whose image we see on all the exercise equipment. (I bet on some level you also know the poem about this creature by the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes if you’ll just reach back far enough in memory. “Build more stately mansions O my soul!” etc., remember? The whole thing is here, if you want to have a look.

You’ll also see the nautilus’s shape in this picture I took of the stairs inside the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point in Maine which we visited during our three days together. We hiked clear to the top, clambered up into the place where the beacon is and clambered down again. These were once my best friends in the world, Vicki and Cathy and Elizabeth, Virginia, Susan and Judy and in many ways they still are that. A seventh pal, called Lynne, couldn’t make it this time but I think of  her every day – not just because she was and still is  so  beautiful but because she taught me by example that even if you feel all sad and weird you can still by God get up off your fanny and do your work.

(Lynne at an earlier mini-reunion on Rattlesnake Hill, NH. For more on that experience go to Elizabeth’s website here)

Medium Well Done?

This ‘medium’ I went to see last night with my pals Janet and Robin was, like most mediums, a person who departed spirits can COME THROUGH to say reassuring things to us saps left holding the bag here. Like Patricia Arquette in the TV show, only without the cute little protruding eye teeth and the crimes. This lady doesn’t DO crimes so much as she envisions lots of floral arrangements. Also poses keenly insightful questions to the audience members who stand tremulously, offering their meek necks to her X-ray vision. Also Manner-of-Death as in “I see something …sudden? Was it sudden, the death of this person you just told me got flattened by a falling anvil?” “Did your mother have hair on her head at all, Charlene?” Our tickets were free but I heard tell some folks paid $38.50.

We lasted less than an hour. Well, l lasted 15 minutes, then fell deeply asleep. We revived once we got outside when Robin started talkin’ trash again (scroll down one for that!)

We always have fun we’re together. That’s Janet and a deranged person up top here, posing before some street art in Paris the City of Lights. I’ll look for a picture of Robin now to add here at the end, hold the phone. I THINK I have one of her on her wedding day in our back yard. If memory serves her gown is hiked halfway up those long legs and she’s doing the limbo…… Hmmmm, nope. This picture is the closest I can come to showing what she’s like. We danced in the streets. Her groom Dan, back-to, has been dancing ever since.