Some Country. Some Day. Happy Birthday!

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Excerpts from Bob Greene’s: If You Think the U.S. Is Divided and Ugly, Hit the RoadThe beauty of our country as seen from a car window on the 12½-hour drive from New York to Chicago.

…The night before…a former long-haul truck driver who’d told me he hankered to see the Great Lakes again—and asked what were the chances he’d be willing to drive straight from Manhattan to Illinois. He said sure; we worked out a price.

By 8 a.m. we were on the road. You know how divided this country is reputed to be? How ugly things allegedly are? Here’s a suggestion: Cross the United States by road this summer. Take a good look out your window. The country itself is pretty swell—beautiful and vibrant and full of small surprises. We, who live here, may do everything we can to screw things up, but our mutual home brims with moments of random loveliness.

On a busy street corner in Newark, N.J., a mother protectively clutched her daughter’s hand as they waited to cross. In eastern Pennsylvania, the soaring, craggy rock formations by the highway sent a silent message: We were here before you were born and we’ll be here after you are gone. Driving over the Delaware River, with the splendor of the famed Delaware Water Gap below, we caught the first magnificent sight of the Pocono Mountains—and those trees, all those breathtaking miles of ancient trees. Who could ever count them? An impossible task.

In large cities life can seem crowded and claustrophobic. In rural Pennsylvania the overwhelming sensation was of how much open space America still has to offer: the room, if we choose, to spread out, to free ourselves from barking over each other’s shoulders. What must life here have been like before the telephone, before television, before the internet, when people didn’t have thousands of angry and disembodied voices—the voices of strangers—barraging them every day, stirring them up? When the voices they heard belonged, in the main, to their neighbors?… [Read more…]

It all began with her

Bob Greene, excerpts from I Actually Thanked A TeacherNow 88, she gave me a refresher in the lesson I’d learned in first grade: how to read the word ‘look.’ (wsj.com, April 12, 2017):

…My first-grade teacher was named Patricia Ruoff…I still recall the day she helped me learn the first word I could ever read…and she showed me what the shape of the four letters on the first page meant, and what they sounded like. That one word: “Look.”

I went home so thrilled that day. I knew how to read a word. “Look.” When the day had begun I hadn’t known it, and now I did. Such a magical feeling, accompanied by the sure knowledge that other words would soon follow. […]

it became important to me to find that teacher. It took some doing—it turns out she has been twice widowed, and thus has had two different last names since back then—but I reached a woman on the telephone who I thought might be her.

“I’m sorry if I have the wrong number,” I said. “But I’m looking for a Patricia Ruoff, who once was a schoolteacher.”

“Yes,” the voice said. “You have the right person.”

“You taught me to read,” I said.

I told her my name.

“Oh, Bobby,” she said. […] [Read more…]

the summer we’re all sharing still has a few breaths left

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From behind me in the heat, beneath a cloudless sky, I hear happy shouts. Treasure every moment you are given; savor every summer’s day. From the time you are a child there is the sanguine suggestion that you will have a supply of those days stretching to the horizon and beyond. The greatest gift of summers, even as they conclude each September, is the winking promise that next year a new one will be rolling around. Waiting for you up ahead.

Labor Day weekend: Soon autumn will arrive, cool days for rekindled ambition, a time for fervent vows and ardent goals, of fresh determination that this may be the season when your ship comes in. But before that, even now, the summer we’re all sharing still has a few breaths left, each with an expiration date. To squander a single one of them would seem a shame.

~ Bob Greene, excerpt from Summer’s Greatest Gift Is That Next Year There Will Be Another


Photo Sand, wind & jazz by Fintlandia (via couvertures de sérénité)

 

 

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