Posts Tagged ‘Lesbos’

Letter From New York 04 16 16 The way we once were…

April 17, 2016

When I was kid — and perhaps when we were all kids — there was one house we all gravitated towards, to hang out, to be around.  When I was a kid, it was the McCormick house.  They were a large family, six kids, in a big house and every year the back yard became a skating rink. In the freezing Minnesota nights the whole neighborhood of kids was there.  During the summers we played kick ball in their enormous driveway.

Still close to the McCormick family, I had lunch with Mary Clare McCormick Eros yesterday at Cafe du Soleil on New York’s Upper West Side.  Sarah, whom I have known since before Kindergarten and I were planning yesterday when to get together when she is in New York next month.  Her son, Kevin, thinks of me as his “Uncle Mat,” even now when he is 31.

Today, I went to Rhinebeck to return to Robert and Tanya Murray innumerable egg cartons as they had donated dozens of eggs from their chickens to my Easter Brunch Church adventures.  When I arrived, two of his children and one of their friends were preparing to do a car wash and I was their first car.  Robert and I sat on the steps and watched them, sipping deep, rich coffee with steamed milk while they soaped up my car.

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I suspect Robert and Tanya have the house in the neighborhood to which everyone gravitates.  Sitting there, it reminded me of John and Eileen and the parade that made its way through their home on Aldrich Avenue in Minneapolis.  Robert got up from the stoop and swooped in and helped them.  It took me back to a much simpler, it seemed, time.

It is very doubtful that time was all that much simpler but it seemed that way to us as kids.  I am sure when Tanya and Robert’s five are grown, they will look back on now and think it was a simpler time.

In a gesture of simplicity and love, Pope Francis, sure to be a saint, went to the isle of Lesbos, the epicenter of the refugee crisis and made a speech on the exact spot where orders for deportation back to Turkey were given two weeks ago.  In a stunning surprise, a dozen Syrians returned with him to the Vatican to be resettled in Italy with the help of a Catholic charity.  All had lost their homes to bombs and six of them were children.  It was an act to “prick the conscience of the king.”

Tuesday is the New York Primary.  Bernie and Hillary slugged it out, in an increasingly strident fashion in a CNN debate in Brooklyn earlier this week.  Both hoarse, both looking exhausted, both fighting tooth and nail, they harried each other and some wonder, no matter who the nominee, if the Democratic Party is suffering wounds as deep as the Republicans have been absorbing with their phantasmagorical season?

It is pitch black outside except for the floodlights on the creek and the lights on my house.  It is quiet, except for the thumping of the dryer with a load of clothes. 

In the early evening, I went to an event, “Prose and Prosecco,” a fund raising event for the little Claverack Library which is working to raise the money to finish moving into its new building. 

Local writers read from their works, two good, one questionable, at least from my perspective.  I chatted with a few people but was not in my aggressive meet people mode and left a bit early to come home, do a few things and write my blog.

I relished watching Robert and his children and Maya, the friend, work through their carwash.  It was an hour filled with the squeals of delighted children, embracing the joy of being children.  The way we once were.

Letter From New York 09 18 15 How lucky am I…

September 18, 2015

It is a stunningly beautiful day here in Claverack. The creek is a mirror of the trees above it, the sun is beginning to descend in the west, the temperature is perfect and I am savoring every moment I get to be out on the deck.

Those days are numbered. I needed to wait awhile this morning to come out here, as it was just a bit too cool when I woke up.

There hasn’t been a letter for a couple of days. I’ve been busy. Yesterday I drove down to Norwalk in Connecticut for lunch with a good, old friend, Bob Altman, who is the king of recipe videos. He’s done thousands of them.

We toured his studio and then went down to the beach for lunch. I had no idea Norwalk was on the water until yesterday.

It was a five-hour journey both ways but very much worth it. On the drive, I listened almost exclusively to NPR, catching up on what they were saying about the world.

There were interviews with Syrian refugees, men and women who had lives there but have found their towns destroyed. Fearing for their lives and the lives of their children, they left Syria. Many went to Turkey but there is no path there for them to legitimacy so they continued on, trusting in many cases to rubber boats to take them to Kos or Lesbos.

Hundreds if not thousands have died in the pursuit of their dream to make it to a safe place. Overwhelmed, Europe is reacting, attempting to staunch the flow coming toward them. It is a human crisis of unfathomable dimensions.

And I sit here in this blissful spot, bothered by nothing except an occasional mosquito. I cannot comprehend the misery of the millions on the move. I accept it in the abstract but I have no visceral connection with it.

My brother probably does. He has been going to Honduras for years to deal with the lack of medical care for those who live in the back of beyond, people who have no more and sometimes less than these refugees.

Sitting on this deck, overlooking the creek, I realize what luck I have had to have been born me, in the time and place that I was. I have been spared many of the world’s travails by having been born in mid-century America.

The future has always been uncertain. I am old enough to remember “duck and cover.” As if that would have saved any of us from a nuclear blast…

But here I am in the third act of my life, seated on a deck overlooking a placid creek with the luxury of looking at the world and being able to ruminate about its meaning. I am SO lucky.

In the next months, I will probably spend more of my time in Columbia County. Last night I went to Christ Church’s “Vision Meeting” and was glad to have been present. It helped me feel connected to this place.

I may be doing some work with the local not for profit radio station, helping them with their marketing and fundraising. I am settling in to being a citizen of Columbia County as opposed to being a “weekender.”

It feels good.

The god Fortuna smiled on me when it/she brought me to this place, allowing me to settle into a home that I think had been part of my dreams since I was a child. It has been great fun to have lived in New York but I think that time is passing.

Once, when I first moved to DC I though how fortunate it was I was there. I had been allowed to know several great American cities. I have lived in Los Angeles, part time in San Francisco, Washington and now New York. How lucky is that?

I’ve never lived in Chicago and I’ve never really liked Chicago so I don’t think that’s a big miss.

I’ve seen a great deal of the world, much more than I might ever have if I had remained a high school English teacher in Minneapolis and have been a witness to two generations of technological changes and been, somehow, a part of both.

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