Friday, February 24, 2017

2017 "One kind word can warm three winter months. " --Japanese Proverb

Here's a little story that didn't make it into the holiday post.  Nevertheless, it has stayed with me and is not something I want to forget.  It was mid-December and I'd stopped in to the consignment/thrift shop where I volunteer to check on things.  I noticed three people shopping in one of the clothing areas.  A young woman was squealing in delight at a dress she'd found, and her male companion was encouraging her to get it because it was SOooo right for her.  She ooh'ed and aah'ed over it, then finally put it back on the rack muttering something about spending money she shouldn't.  Her male friend tried to talk her into it, but she was still trying to resist.  Finally, the older woman grabbed the dress off the rack and said, "you obviously love this dress, I'm getting it for you."  Off she marched to the front to pay for it, with the young woman protesting after her.  I looked at her male friend and said, "That was her mother, right?"  He said, wide-eyed, "No, we don't know her at all!"  At that point, the young woman returned with the dress in the bag, flabbergasted at what had just happened.  We were all smiling and I said, "You know what to do now, right?"  Without hesitation she replied, "Pay it forward!"  It was a tiny moment in a big, messy year, but it felt like a good reminder that kindness will be just as rewarding after the holidays.  

January was relatively peaceful on the Cape.  We have the roads and shops mostly to ourselves.  The pace is finally relaxed and the talk turns to weather and what's simmering in the pot on the stove.  So, when the cable service went down, cutting power to the internet, television and landlines, that got a lot of peoples' attention.  When the service rep on the phone reported that there had been a fire, Ron thought he was getting another dubious story, so he grabbed a coat and said, I'll be right back.  Sure enough, the five minute trip to the Xfinity headquarters in Orleans revealed flashing firetrucks and police lights and a parade of onlookers who had nothing better to do on a cold winter night when their cable was down than to go check it out.  The event even made the Orleans news in the weekly Cape Codder, which gives you an idea of just how little it takes to make news and entertain us.  

photo from the Orleans Fire-Rescue Facebook
Admittedly, not everybody is nuts about football around here, but even non-watchers have at least a sense of pride in their New England teams.  Our New England Patriots didn't let us down this year.  Despite a four-game suspension of our quarterback for "Deflategate" and numerous team injuries, their skill and determination has told this year's story, carrying them, and us with them, to the Superbowl for the fifth time.  By halftime, our chances to win against Atlanta's mighty Falcon defense looked truly dismal.  But, for a diehard Patriots fan, the urge to switch to a movie, or even turn in early was not greater than knowing that however unlikely it seemed, Tom Brady is capable of working magic when all seems lost.  We've seen him do it too many times to switch that channel.  I'll spare you the game details because if you don't know them by now, you're obviously not interested.  Suffice to say, in what looked like a punishing defeat, our team never lost hope, never faltered, made every second count and showed what could be accomplished with sheer willpower and never giving up.  Now, this might seem a little corny, but perhaps there is an allegory in this Superbowl at this particular time in our country's history.  This is almost too easy, but when situations seem dark and out of control, such as the state of our current politics, do we shrug helplessly while liberties are threatened, or do we team up and fight for victory?  This story doesn't work as well, of course, if you're a Falcons fan, but you can bet their coaches are dissecting how it fell apart right now, and they will come up with the same conclusion.  Never get smug, think outside the box, and never give up.  And, that's what everyday patriots, New England and otherwise, must remember every day.  [I've even forgiven Tom Brady for his Make America Great cap.]  So, GO PATS, and thanks for giving us all something to think about and emulate.   

I certainly never gave up on our bluebirds.  They typically show up for only one or two days in the winter, and I've been ready and watching for this annual treat.  Sunflower seeds, dried mealworms, nuts, berries and suet, clean water in the birdbath with the defroster going, all at the ready.  The only question was would we be fortunate enough to be here when they dropped by.  Happily, the answer is not only YES, but they have so far graced us with their presence all month!  There is something about several pairs of bluebirds cavorting in the courtyard that takes the sting out of life's pesky tribulations.     
Share the joy with this short video snippet:  
Click here on:  Bluebirds []

As I've mentioned before, winter on Cape Cod can be as isolating and peaceful an experience as you choose, or you can dive into as many different activities as you wish to make time for.  One of our favorites is the Provincetown 24 Hour Theatre Festival.  This delightful weekend thrusts teams of volunteer play writers, directors and actors together to present a whimsical evening of creativity.  This is the process:  all interested parties meet on a Friday night and put their names in hats.  The play writer draws a director.  The director then draws actors.  The groups meet to see who they have to work with to stage their contribution to the next evening's festival.  The play writer is given 3 mystery props to incorporate into the story and has the rest of that evening to come up with a ten minute play.  The following morning, the director meets with the actors with the fresh emailed script, while the writer catches up on sleep from writing all night. They have the rest of the day to rehearse before performing that evening.  After participating as an actor in this romp before, Ron took on the director's challenge this year.  Experience is not a prerequisite for participation, which brings seasoned equity artists together with good sports who've never been on a stage, but thought it would be fun.  It is, and I join the most tolerant and appreciative audience one could ever hope to find to do my part.

The luck of the draw paired Ron with 3 women who all knew each other and had never been on a stage before.  In a sense that made directing easier because their inexperience and lack of time to prepare made them very willing to just follow his directions.  The play, Teachers' Lounge, written by Lucy Blood, a former teacher, was based on the topical subject of the appointment of Betsy DeVoss, the new U.S. Secretary of Education.  The results provided some of the biggest laughs of the evening and may even have launched some local future stars.

Teachers' Lounge, Provincetown Playwright's Lab
An odd thing happened mid-month that defies logic, but it somehow feels connected to the unseasonably mild weather that has settled in.  Upon rising one morning, I opened the bedroom door to see our Maine Coon cat, Tommy, prancing around the living room with something in his mouth.  Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I approached and saw whatever it was flapping on both sides against his whiskers.  A bird?!  I quickly picked Tom up under his stomach and gently bounced him up and down until he opened his mouth in protest, and the bird dropped out and flew to the other side of the room.  Shoving Tom into the bathroom and closing the door, I grabbed some kitchen gloves and gently picked up what looked like a European Starling and took him outside, where he was very happy to fly indignantly away.  No doors had been open, including the ones to the fireplace, and it continues to baffle me, other than an omen of some kind.  Just as it was last winter, February seems to have replaced March as the new month for Spring blooms to awaken.  Already, we've seen delicate, white snowdrops and purple crocuses blooming, and daffodils shooting higher with every sunny day.  We've even seen a red winged blackbird at the feeder, which doesn't usually happen until April.  People in shorts and T-shirts have been spotted and the parking lots at the Fort Hill lookout have been close to full capacity with hikers reveling in the mild weather.  Guests have flocked to the B&B this month from as close as Boston and the South Shore area to Vermont and Canada.  I'm not putting my coats away yet, but a site online suggests that a European Starling visit in one's home means that "changes in situations are coming, usually for the better, signaling the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one."  Sounds like Spring to me.  

Just imagine what Tommy would think of my neighbor, Paco!


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