June 2, 2017 (Friday)

by Yule Heibel on June 1, 2018

It’s nice and clear this morning, fresh-washed. “My” trash maples have spurted another meter in height. Last night I could see the shadow of their branches on my bathroom blind: the street light on E.-St., far below my second story bathroom, projects in every direction, including up, for about a mile (it’s one of awful super-bright ones), and the trees, already with a headstart far above the light, are now tall enough to partially block it (and cause shadows). In a couple of years I could be literally blocked – or “limbed” in. My bit of ocean view would disappear, my view would disappear. I have got to get a hold of those new owners…

Yesterday I walked into town, stopping at the library to return a book, before continuing along [main street]. The plan was to walk as far as felt comfortable in sandals and summer t-shirt and floppy, beach-style pants while at the same time avoiding the suddenly forecast rain- and thunderstorm predicted for 3p.m. I didn’t get very far: sitting outside A.-Café was R.S. of “the Farms” and Wnhm Museum connection, and we got talking. I sat down and twenty minutes later I could tell that the storm was going to arrive early. I made it back home just in time, already encountering the beginning sprinkles but avoiding the subsequent downpour and electric storm.

My conversation with R.S. was interesting. She’s crazy about Colonial history, it’s her passion. Her history focus is on Thomas Pickering, who later in his life bought a pile of land on Larch Row to farm and in 1818 started the organization that became the Topsfield Fair. Next year will be its 200th anniversary and R. is trying to drum up support for some kind of joint Salem Pickering House-Wenham Museum-Larch Row-Topsfield Fair celebration, but so far hasn’t gotten very far. Which also brought us on to the subject of New Englanders. I mentioned, a propos of the museum’s issue with finding new (literally: younger) volunteers for its model train collection and exhibition, my experience of having many more and diverse social connections in Victoria (including young / younger people who happened to be model train enthusiasts), and how I find it so atomizing and difficult here to make connections and friends, especially across class and age barriers (the “olds” stick together, as do the young; the upper middles don’t mingle with the workers, etc.). And she immediately said, “That’s New England.”

The model train angle is interesting: they need fresh blood to volunteer (the current crew is in their 70s, 80s, even 90s), they need people who can repair these things (difficult in our toss-it-and-buy-new culture), and they have found that autistic boys in particular really love the trains. Suddenly, among this population, there’s focus, interest, engagement when confronted with the model trains.

In other news, big news yesterday: POTUS withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The European Union’s Juncker lecturing him – but not understanding that the Constitution “trumps” all. People’s heads exploding all over the place – as if the Paris Agreement could actually stop global warming. I find myself agreeing with those who’ve argued that it’s a wealth transfer. I also think cities need to start acting like city states again: stop relying on the Feds, compete amongst yourselves. (Works for Harvard, incidentally, where I first learned about the concept of “the corporation,” when I was told by our art history department chair that “we” were poor even though Harvard was rich. Each department was expected to scrabble and compete for funding wherever it could jam its begging bowl. It’s all a game.)

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