Wind In The Sails Again


July 6, 2022, Brewster, NY- The mechanic of 36 years’ experience looked me in the eye, and begged to differ, about my intention to look around for a newer vehicle, sometime in the near future. “Senor, this vehicle’s engine, motor and frame are solid. One guy’s mistake, in not putting a gasket on the oil pan plug, led to that leak and whatever hit your oil pan could have hit any oil pan, even on a 2022 model. The rest of the stuff we did today is routine maintenance. That was a long drive you made, after all.”

All of that is true. It’s also true that a hybrid, or electric vehicle, uses less fossil fuel than a standard vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Much rubber will meet a few more roads, before the final decision on the matter is made.

In the meantime, I bid farewell to my mother, brother and sister-in-law, did not get to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law (but did enjoy a meatball grinder at Post Road Pizza, in their town of Marlborough) and had a fairly smooth drive, from Saugus to this lovely town in the uplands, east of the Hudson River.

There were traffic snags, in which I found myself. There was a long snarl, for opposing traffic, as I left Saugus. A construction project was tying up for the day, a landscaper had left his truck on the shoulder of the road, on our side, causing northbound traffic to have to use the southbound lane to go around it, which in turn required a police officer to direct the trade-off between the two flows. Further up, a second officer had to direct a trade-off between the two flows, around the project itself.

There was rush hour in the city of Worcester, which kept traffic along I-290 crawling along, for twenty-five minutes or so, with lane shrinkage helping tremendously. Then, at the Connecticut state line, an accident on I-84 southbound, involving at least two vehicles, tied up traffic for about forty minutes. Seven police cars, from both Massachusetts and Connecticut state patrols, the Tolland County Sheriff’s Office and the towns of Holland, MA and Union, CT, were on the scene, blocking the highway and safely coordinating the response to the incident. No word on any casualties. I could see a pickup truck in a ditch, with a young man standing outside it. That was al.

Waterbury, famous for its own traffic snarls, was pretty much clear, save a three-minute slowdown, west of town, due to a construction project that was winding down for the night. I was safely ensconced in my present room, at Comfort Inn, by 9:55. Plugging my laptop into an inactive wall outlet led to loss of connection to a Baha’i Zoom call, but noticing that it WAS an inactive outlet and moving to a live outlet, at least let me get the juice back. That was the lesson from North Sydney, NS.

Tomorrow, I will cross the Hudson, head over to Pennsylvania, stop at D’s Diner for lunch, then go down to a small town west of Philadelphia, visit family for a bit and make my pilgrimage to Oley, and Glick’s Greenhouse.

An Invisible Frontier


June 30, 2022, Jonesboro, Maine- The breakfast serving room was stifling, at the Comfort Inn, Amherst, NS, and I had some concern for the well-being of the attendant. She was quite vocal about the heat-mainly from the ovens in her immediate food preparation space. I thought it would be a good idea for the management to consider better ventilation. A good worker, to paraphrase the old United Black College Fund ad, is terrible to waste. We patrons at least were to take our food to our rooms. COVID protocols are still in place, in many establishments.

Two very different reactions to my presence in Amherst were to present themselves, as errands were discharged. When I went to the laundromat, the attendant was friendly at first, but once I told her where I was from, the smile faded and I was asked what I was doing in Amherst. At least I was left alone to complete my washing and drying. The people at the car wash were a lot nicer, and gladly exchanged four quarters for a dollar coin, so the wash could proceed.

My business in the Chignecto area complete, I drove over to Fundy National Park, in New Brunswick, and caught a few scenes of that home of high tides.

Any thoughts I might have had of further exploring Fundy were brought to a close by the approaching rain. It got quite heavy, at times, as I drove west, on TransCanada Highway 2. In and around Saint John, the province’s largest city, the rain was the heaviest. Being rush hour made things go that much slower-and of course, there was road construction, with lane closures. Nonetheless, the people along the Loyalist Trail (Saint John was a haven for those loyal to the Crown, during the American Revolution.) have the rush hour thing down to a fine art, with taking turns entering the open lane de rigeur.

A relatively short time, maybe forty minutes, later, I was at the border crossing, where the inspector briefly peered into my back seat, glanced at my passport and said “Welcome home”. If only we lived in a world where everyone could have that kind of a border greeting, each time. The invisible frontier, however, attracts its share of grifters and smugglers-so sometimes, the rest of us need to exercise forbearance.

Beyond Calais, Maine, I took note of these scenes along the St. Croix River.

A few miles further south, the St. Croix Island International Peace Monument commemorates the first, ill-fated French expedition, led by Pierre Dugua, an explorer, soldier and fur trapper. The group landed on St. Croix Island in the Fall of 1604, with the intention of claiming the area for France. A harsh winter ensued, and despite the assistance of the Passamaquoddy people, who were native to the area, the party lost about half of its members. In the spring of 1605, Dugua and his group departed the area, for another point on the Canadian mainland. Canada and the United States jointly maintain this historical site.

The presence of this monument underscores the value of seeing that “The Earth is but one country and Mankind its citizens”- Baha’u’llah.

I continued on to the small town of Perry. There, a restaurant called New Friendly featured a cheerful, talkative waitress, who seemed to connect with everyone, a shy teenaged girl, who was looking around for something productive she might do and a visibly flustered, rather crochety woman, who seemed to be the owner. I was served by the waitress, and enjoyed a nice meal of fried clams-with full bellies, which I love, being a son of New England. I was the last one in the door, and so was about the last one to pay. The owner took my payment, seemingly glad to see me leave.

The end of the line, for tonight, is Blueberry Patch Motel and Cabins. I am in a tiny cabin, recommended to me by the night clerk, who said I had just made it through the door, before she turned out the Welcome sign. Yes, I got the last cabin-with one motel room going unclaimed. Rural Mainers do things a bit differently, and the invisible frontier, between being hard at work and being tired enough to stop for the night, takes on a different hue up here.

Drumbeats in The Key of Life


June 29, 2022, Amherst, NS- I found an engaging restaurateur, who was having a birthday, at Bras d’Or View Restaurant, about eight miles west of Highlands Motel. It was worth the drive, as the place reminds me nicely of my favourite spots back in Prescott. The locals in Bras d’Or Village love Vanessa and she returns the sentiment. Breakfast was a heartfelt meal.

Finally connecting with my Miqmak friend, on the south side of the Lake, I headed first to Iona, a small lake port, and got a sense of village life near the Reserve of Eskasoni.

I then headed over to Eskasoni, and inquired at a couple of stores, as to the residence of a Miqmak elder, whose name had been given me by a mutual friend. A young man who overheard the conversation offered to take me to them elder’s home. When the watchdog barked at the young man, I thanked him and he left. The elder came out, asked who I was and sized me up. When I stated my business, he invited me inside and we talked at length, over pie a la mode and tea, about Baha’i matters and life on the Reserve. After some time had passed, he excused himself, to go take care of a work-related matter. His daughter came and dropped off a box of items and two other Baha’is came in and out, while the elder’s wife sat and conversed with us, while doing her own crafts project. In time, my friend A. P. came in and the conversation continued for another two hours or so. The other Baha’is left and A.P. offered to show me Eskasoni’s Baha’i Centre, a few miles away. We went over there and he told me some particulars of how the Centre came to be and how it is being renovated now.

After we thanked our hostess, A.P. and I left, with him guiding me back towards the Canso Causeway, using the backroads. It was a very rewarding day for me, listening to the sometimes complicated views of the Mikmaq and to their Creation stories. As in the United States, and elsewhere in the world where First Nations people and settlers have variously clashed and made efforts at getting along. Nova Scotia has seen a lot of injury and misunderstanding.

Much of this has come from failure to listen, especially on the part of those who do not maintain silence long enough to process the mood of the situation or to observe body language. Promotion of an agenda, above all else, has only built unnecessary walls. Then, there is the manipulation, the abuse of children, adolescents and women, by those who should be trustworthy. The Miqmak, like the Dineh, Hopi, Inde (Apache), Cree, Salish, Inuit and others-even the Beothuk, who are viewed as “extinct”, have earned the right to Truth and Reconciliation-in a real way, not just monetarily, but to be seen as full partners in any community that is theirs by right.

I ended this day by encouraging a young lady who was a new server at Big Stop Restaurant, Aulds Cove, just on the mainland side of Canso Causeway. The meal hit the spot and she did everything right. It was no detriment that she was using cue cards. That shows initiative and the desire to do a job well. Finding a place for the night, I noted that Amherst has a laundromat and car wash, near Comfort Inn, so it’s here that I settled in.

Tomorrow, I will cross southern New Brunswick and return to the United States, after my longest stay outside the country since 2014.

Notes from The Peaceful Sky


December 9, 2018, Arlington, VA-

So often, a plane flight is viewed as an unpleasant nuisance-especially with the small seats, misplaced luggage and human drama that are so highly touted in the travel media.

My flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was taken in a middle seat, but it was in between two quiet, pleasant gentlemen, who were busy with their own affairs.  In front of us was a woman whose husband was diagonally behind me.  I was glad to be the relay person, a couple of times during the flight, as she handed him what he needed.  Next to her was another couple, mid-40’s, attractive and probably fairly recently connected-they had the air of  teenagers about them, in a charming way.  I am not a stickler about PDA, within reason; it’s what people do when they are attracted to one another.

Hartsfield- Note to myself:  Don’t go for the pizza, next time.  It’s been a long time since the staple food had a bland taste. I’ve been spoiled, I guess, by the pizza of the East Coast, Chicago and across Arizona.

I kind of like getting smiling eyes and mouths from attractive ladies, even when the chance of anything further is nil.

Whilst waiting to show my boarding pass to the agent, I watched a young girl, about 11-12, tell her mother that they should go right to the agent, with their passes, as their section had already boarded. Mother insisted they go to the back of the line.  A kind gentleman, whose turn was next, intervened and convinced the mother that it was okay to go on to the check stand.  Score one for a child’s dignity.

The flight to Reagan National was again a sardine can, with me between a quiet young man and lady, who also kept to themselves. Five rows in front of us, a couple had given their toddler her own seat, but graciously took her to lapland, when the last unseated passenger appeared.  A flight attendant delighted us all, post beverages, with her heartfelt and well-sung rendition of “The Christmas Song”.  The older girl I mentioned above, happened to be seated diagonally across from us.  The look of joy on her face, at this performance, was priceless.

We got in to Reagan National ten minutes early and my transit,from baggage claim to hotel, was bing, bang, boom.  Reagan’s taxi stand is supremely well-oiled; the captain matching travelers, efficiently, with Virginia, DC and Maryland cabbies.

I found Comfort Inn as expected- a teensy bit worn, but clean and warm, a bargain for the next three days.

The Road to 65, Mile 36: Glitter, Followed by Reality


January 3, 2015, Las Vegas-  Tomorrow morning, a couple of “reality stars” will reunite, sort of, in a Federal prison.  They will leave four young girls behind, and all because money mattered more than it should have.  Money is a tool, a means to an end, and nothing more.  Love, especially the love of a child, is beyond all measure, in its value to human life. At the very same time, a seven-year-old girl will live the rest of her life without her parents and older sister.  She was saved by God’s grace- towards what end is known only to the Universe, and found her way to the home of a good man, and a caring community.

We often seek the quick fix, in the rush to a “good life”.  This is the allure of glitter, though Mankind has known, deep down, since the days of Croesus, and of Solomon, that gilt is seldom golden.  Flamboyance, a smooth tongue, glamour have their place in this world, and often that place is to serve as a red flag to the beholder.  In the end, they matter not one whit.  Good people suffer, as do the not-so-good.  “Bad” people appear to prosper, as do some of those who live the Life. We each have our purpose, and all-in-all that purpose is to know and serve the Creator, the Life Force.  We are each contributing to the Whole.

I drove up to Las Vegas today, stopping first in the little town of Ash Fork, AZ, at the junction of US Hwy 89 and I-40.  The waitress in the small cafe appeared to be undergoing a serious amount of stress, but was keeping a fair focus on her work, and a brave face.  Mentally, I found myself in thought-hug mode.  As a stranger towards another man’s wife, though, what was mental did not become physical- except she got a bigger tip and “have a better day”.

I took a room at Comfort Inn, a ways north of the Strip, which I don’t frequent, being a non-gambler.  I have enjoyed the shows and the exhibits at a couple of Steve Wynn’s properties, in times past.  My purpose this time was to visit some friends, who turned out to be busy, and to spend some time in the Valley of Fire, which looked fascinating, from I-15, when Penny and I drove through to St. George, from California, so many years ago.  Las Vegas has a burger shop, Farmer Boys, part of a chain that seems to be rooted in Southern California, as many chains are.  The difference is that the ingredients are guaranteed fresh, hormone-free meat and organic vegetables.  There is a genuine sense of warmth and graciousness about the staff.  This is the reality that will bring about stability and success.  It was a soothing meal, which I can’t always say, with respect to a hamburger.

Tomorrow, then, will feature the grandeur of nature, followed by a return to the reality which I have come to treasure.  Work that is based on service is always that way.