Monday, February 09, 2015


I am of the generation that was required to memorize poems.

Thus, all these years decades on, I can still make my way through the first few bits of Evangeline, Paul Revere’s Ride, and The Spell of the Yukon.

You say you’ve never heard of The Spell of the Yukon, that spell-binder from the mighty pen of Robert W. Service? What are you? Some kind of an illiterate?

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.

Oh, it wasn’t all tripe.

Who wouldn’t want to know O Captain, My Captain by heart?

But the poem I’m thinking of these days is John Greenleaf Whittier’s Snow-Bound.

I don’t think that we had to memorize this one – way too freaking long, even for nuns who didn’t hold  back when it came to torture -but we did read it more than a few times:

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.

Well, swap out December for January or February, and you’ve got it going, John G.

Cue the snow; queue the snowplows.

Those who live in New England, or who follow the weather on the news,* will know that for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been slammed.

The first storm - 2+ feet – was quickly followed up by another 1+: the largest seven-day accumulation in record-keeping history.

And we’re now in the midst of a slow-moving but majorly accruing snowfall that, by the time it winds down in the wee small hours of the morning, will have dumped another foot or two on us.

So I’ve been feeling a bit snowbound.

Oh, with the exception of yesterday, I’ve at least stuck my nose out, even on the worst of days.

Sometimes it was to mail a letter, sometimes to run to the store.

On the one pretty nice – sunny-ish, in the 30’s – day we had last week, I walked to and from a meeting in the Fenway area, and actually got to see a bit of the Patriots’ celebration parade. I waved to Tom Brady’s little boy, and saw Bob Kraft brandishing a trophy. I also saw a magnificent hawk outside Kenmore Square, perched on a snow bank I was walking by.

But mostly when I’m out, I’m doing touch up shoveling, or cleaning out the storm drain/curb cut on the corner. (A no-man’s land for sure.  It was maintained for years by an elderly neighbor, who hung up his ice chopper in his early 80’s.  For a number of years, I was his assistant, but when Dick retired, I took up the task. Dick occasionally stops by the chat and give me an atta girl, as he did last Friday. I told him that I plan on quitting at 70, and pass the torch to the new generation…I suspect that I’ll really be snowbound waiting for someone to pick up that torch. There will no doubt be an app to get someone to do the work, but not to actually do the job itself.)

The other day, I made it onto the news. New England Cable Network came up and asked if they could interview me, and I quite pleasantly said ‘no’. But they had been filming me, and a neighbor told me he’d seen me. Almost famous, I guess. More so if I’d agreed to an interview.

Other than to check out the shoveling job out front, and see if I can free up the storm drain, which I know will be snow-clogged, I won’t get out today.

Tonight’s event at the Writers’ Room has been postponed.

Tomorrow, I have two things scheduled: an advocacy event at the State House on behalf of St. Francis House, and a friend’s reading at a bookstore in Newton (preceded by dinner with another friend). I’m betting that at least one of those will be called off.

On Wednesday, I have a client meeting in the Innovation District.

I hope that’s a go, as I’ll definitely be experiencing cabin fever by then.

Friday’s downtown meeting I might auto-cancel. The high is supposed to be 8 degrees…

I think all this snowboundedness is giving me a preview of what it will be like to grow old here.

Still, when I think of where I can see myself growing old, it is here.

And when I think of other places where I might want to retire, it’s never sensible places like Florida or North Carolina.

I think about Worcester. Or Northhampton, Massachusetts. Or Burlington and Brattleboro, Vermont. Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Newburyport, Massachusetts. Portland, Maine. Lowell. Salem. Beverly.

On Sunday, there was an article in The Globe on the revival of Biddeford, Maine.

Hey, I told myself, that sounds like a pretty good place to grow old in.

If you’re going to be snowbound, it might as well be in a place that gets plenty of snow.


*You could believe my ex, lyin’ Brian Williams when he spoke about the snow in these parts. 

1 comment:

Kathleen Rogers said...

I'm taking solace from another required memorization:

In May, when sea winds pierced our solitudes/I found the fresh rhodora in the woods

The Rhodora by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rhododendron don't scan so good, I guess.