Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah.
The end of November 2016
Cold, clear – high peaks covered with snow – more snow on the way.
This is essentially a casual letter to friends – mostly personal – sharing the small moments and thoughts and images that make for a day-by-day life as November winds down into the holiday season.
SNAPSHOTS, POSTCARDS, AND MEMOS
Here’s the only political comment I have to make. Despite the glut of news and opinion, this is something that didn’t make national headlines:
Moab, Utah, is a small town in the far southeast corner of Utah – the seat of Grand County – about 6,000 people altogether. Half the year the population swells to as many as 15,000 people on a weekend when visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the red rock Canyon-lands. But when the tourists go, we go about somewhat normal life. And normal life here means active participation in politics – because being a citizen is thought of as a political office in Moab.
The good news:
That’s why I’m pleased to tell you that 91.31 per cent of the registered voters in Grand county cast a ballot in the recent election. Yes. 91.31 per cent.
Not only that, both the winners and the losers put ads in the local newspaper thanking their opponents for taking part in the democratic process.
I thought you’d like to know that citizenship and civility are alive and well
way out here in the back of the beyond.
* * * *
I traveled to Carbondale, Colorado last week to take part in honoring a friend who has been in the forefront of community service all her life. We met in our freshman year at the University of Colorado in the fall of 1954. It was not love-at-first-sight, but friendship-from-the-first-moment. And we’ve been friends now for 62 years. It’s a nostalgia hit to share memories with someone who knew me when I was seventeen years old. When I ordered coconut banana cream pie for breakfast, she just smiled, knowing I haven’t changed all that much over the years.
I’ll share what I said to summarize her character:“If Dorothea Ike Farris was invited to attend an all-out swingers orgy, she would not agree to participate. But she would go and watch, because at 82, she’s still open-minded and interested in learning. And, when the police came to the door, she would be the one to explain to them the rights of consenting adults.”
* * * * *
On my way home I stopped for coffee in an espresso emporium in Grand Junction, Colorado. In the men’s restroom I found these words written on the wall:
I hold my own death
As a card in the deck
To be played when
There are no other cards left.
Meanwhile . . .
I’ve lots of cards
left to play.
Copy that. It serves as a grace note on my weekend looking back on my life
and looking forward to all the life yet to come.
* * * * *
Before leaving Grand Junction, I stopped by a bookstore to stock up on reading material. In the cold, grey, wet afternoon, an old lady was standing near the entrance, with a newspaper in her hand.
Assumption: a down-and-out seller of the local homeless publication.
I took a $5 bill out of my wallet as I approached, and offered it to her, while reaching out for a copy of the newspaper.
She seemed surprised, but she took my money.
When I reached for the paper, she said, “That’s my New York Times – you can buy one for yourself inside.”
“But I thought . . .”
“I know what you thought, but I’m not homeless. I guess I shouldn’t go out looking so old and pitiful. I’m waiting for my daughter to pick me up and take me home.”
I reached over for my $5 bill.
She smiled. “I’m keeping your money. I’ll pass it on to the Salvation Army.”
* * * * *
And that was fine with me.
Because I’ve jingled the bell for the Salvation Army since I was 6 years old.
And I was there again last night, in front of Moab’s City Market,
experiencing the generosity of the people of this little town, who not only vote, but give to good causes. There are 62 active, well-funded non-profits in Moab.
Sometimes the kettle-tending gets exciting.
A lady in a hurry with a full cart of groceries and three children went by me.
Her little boy, peeled off and came back to put something in the kettle.
Minutes later the lady came running across the parking lot.
“I’ve got to get into the kettle,” she cried.
“My kid put my car keys in it.”
Fortunately the kettle was not locked, so we opened it and sorted through the bills and change – to find her keys in the bottom.”
“Oh, thank God,” she cried, and started back to her car.
And then she turned around and came back – opened her wallet – took out a $20 bill, folded it, pushed it through the slot, and said, “I owe the pot.”
* * * * *
To end my week on an ongoing a positive note, I got an e-mail from Allen Klein – not someone I know personally:
This year (2016), I’ve decided to send one email each day thanking someone who has enriched my life.
It could be someone who is close to me, like a family member or a friend.
It could be someone I have only met once or perhaps admired from afar.
It could be someone I have known for a long time or only momentarily.
TODAY YOU ARE THAT PERSON. I APPRECIATE YOUR BEING IN MY LIFE.
P.S- Please know that there is no hierarchy here. In the past few days, your name and who you are in the world came to mind. When that happened I realized that I wanted to honor and thank you for enriching my life.”
(Bless those who take time to bless others – thanks, Allen Klein.)
* * * * *
In Wordsworth’s great Ode, there is this line: “The rainbow comes and goes.”
For me, this has been a week of rainbows – in a clear western sky.