Yesterday we took a hike around Lily’s Pond. In the summer it is a popular swimming spot, but yesterday, with the season over, not a soul was around. It was totally silent, and there wasn’t even a breath of wind — leaving the water unruffled and as reflective as a looking glass.
They say everyone needs to have a peaceful, happy place to think of when they need to escape the hurly-burly rush of modern life. When I need to mentally visit that quiet place, I’ll be thinking of Lily’s Pond, just as it was yesterday.
There used to be a saying in college football: September is for pretenders, and November is for contenders. The underlying concept was that the good teams played a bunch of patsies in September and the tough games really didn’t roll around until November. Thus, November was when you’d finally separate the wheat from the chaff.
That saying is true no longer, at least for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Last night — on September 29 — the Buckeyes had to play the Penn State Nittany Lions at Happy Valley. Penn State is one of the toughest teams in the Big Ten and a perennial contender for the conference championship, both teams were ranked in the top ten, and 110,000 screaming, white-clad fans packed Beaver Stadium to cheer on the Lions. The sound in that Stadium last night was deafening. It’s hard to imagine a better atmosphere for a big-time college football game, or a more daunting challenge for the visiting team. It was a November contest being played in September.
Somehow, the Buckeyes came from 12 points down in the fourth quarter and beat the Nittany Lions, giving Ohio State a leg up over Penn State in the always tough Big Ten East. The offense sputtered and coughed and the defense gave up some huge plays to let Penn State take the lead, but Ohio State never gave up and kept fighting until the final play. Kudos should go to everyone on the Buckeye team, with a special nod to the punter Drue Chrisman, who repeatedly pinned the Nittany Lions deep after each unsuccessful Ohio State possession.
These days, college football in September is not for the faint of heart. The Buckeyes have passed their first huge Big Ten test. But if this is September, what in the world is November going to be like?
It’s officially autumn. The leaves are just starting to turn on Deer Isle, we’re getting a heavy dose of morning dew, and there’s a definite chill in the air. But because we haven’t yet had the “fall back” time change, our sunrises are coming later and later, making it easier to sleep in a bit.
It’s always a treat when the sun first peeks over the rim of the world and lights up the harbor, but it’s even more enjoyable when the show starts at 6:45 rather than 5 a.m.
I worked for a while today at the Stonington Public Library. It’s a nifty little facility with free wireless, a good reading table, and a really excellent book selection for its size. And, like most small town libraries, it’s at the center of it all. While I was there, numerous people stopped by to pick up a book, chat up the friendly librarian, and talk about what’s going on.
Libraries are one of those civic institutions that hold towns together. Stonington has a really good one.
The other day I was out for a walk and saw a birdbath. As I walked by, I thought: boy, you don’t many birdbaths these days — even though they were a common feature that you saw in people’s yards when I was growing up.
It made me think about other once-common things that have pretty much vanished from the everyday scene. Like breadboxes, for example. When I was a kid, we had a wooden breadbox in our kitchen. Every house seemed to have one. In our case, it was part of a decorated matched set with the flour and sugar and coffee containers, and when you wanted to get the Wonder Bread to make your peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich you went to the breadbox, flipped down the front lid, took out the bread in its plastic wrapping with the red, yellow and blue balloons, and made the sandwich on the back part of the flipped-down lid. I’m not sure whether breadboxes were supposed to really serve any meaningful function in terms of keeping bread from going stale, or whether people just wanted to have a central place to store their bread. In any case, nobody puts a breadbox on their kitchen counter anymore, I doubt if anyone sells breadboxes anymore, and I imagine if you gave a breadbox to somebody under 35 they would have no idea what it was. At some point, Americans collectively made the decision that it was better to put bread in the refrigerator, and breadboxes went into the dustbin of history.
Breadboxes. Rotary telephones. Rabbit ear interior TV antennas and elaborate TV antennae on rooftops. Fancy silver tea sets, always slightly tarnished, on dining room tables. Elaborate ashtrays on coffee tables and end tables and standing cigarette lighters. They’ve all been left behind as America has moved on and tastes have changed.
And birdbaths have been left behind, too. Which makes me wonder: where do birds go to freshen up these days?
When you travel a lot, you tend to notice the little things — like the fact that the routine pre-takeoff speech has been subtly changed.
Flight attendants used to tell you to keep your seatbelt fastened in case the plane experienced turbulence. Now, you’re instructed to do it “in case the plane encounters unexpected rough air.”
Why the change in the standard speech? I imagine the airlines did some focus group testing and determined that people reacted more favorably to the notion of “unexpected rough air” than “turbulence.” I’m of the opposite view, however. Turbulent air just sounds like air that is upset for some reason; it will calm down eventually. But rough air suggests some meanness and malice, like the air is eager to cuff us around a little bit. The fact that it’s allegedly unexpected just makes it worse, like a thug springing from a dark alley to knock you over the head.
When I’m on a plane I’ll take upset air over angry air, every time.
Boise is surrounded by mountains. Some are seen in the far distance; others are right next door. One of the nearby outcroppings is a huge, flat-topped butte called Table Rock that is a popular destination for hikers and tourists.
Table Rock is well worth a visit. It gives you a grand view of the Boise valley — that’s the city in the photo above, far below — and it reminds you that Boise gets its name from “bois,” the French word for tree. There are trees along the river, and trees have been planted all over town, but otherwise Boise is surrounded by desert conditions. Look in one direction from Table Rock and you see green; look in another and it’s dusty brown as far as the eye can see.
One other thing about Table Rock — there are no fences or guard rails. If you’re up there on a blustery day, as we were, you don’t want to get too close to the edge or you might just get blown off . . . and it’s a long way down. We maintained a prudent and respectful distance from the edge.