She had blue skin And so did he He kept it hid And so did she They searched for blue their whole life through Then passed right by And never knew
Masks by Shel Silverstein
This past spring, Katie Couric hosted a talk show which focused on deserving high school students who were anxious to make college a part of their life journeys. After a fat scholarship presentation, she briefed the hard driving scholars on the value of combining the social and the academic. “The social is oh so important too,” she said.
The advice was sanctioned with a bonus, a hulking LL Bean backpack loading with the college essentials of today: a keyboard, a coffee maker, a New York Times subscription, ramen noodles, a nylon frisbee, a cell phone charger etc. Big breath. Not one item would I fully recognize if gifted at my high school graduation in 1973.
So the question is: Are we advancing at break neck speed to a future place that we can call home or, even with new and nifty tools, are we assigning that future in terror? Good example…in parting these days, instead of wishing one another well i.e. “have a wonderful time”, we say, “Be Safe.” Why the fearful send off?
As the world becomes smaller and social media reveals a helplessness that shows up as an emotional burden, we freeze in relationship to the places where we have influence. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says, “A proactive person focuses their efforts on things where they have influence.”
The old fashioned notion of a neighborhood is one of those places of influence that we negated in a restless search for “better”. Once upon a time, neighborhoods were defined as a “set of social networks where residents looked for common values.” I'm pretty sure that they did that face to face, chatting over the grill while the kids road their bikes.
So it took a pair younger than my children to recognize the value of what we have lost in community - that is a neighborhood. It wasn't that the more wizened Rolling Field Hoodites had not considered the idea, so we said. We were busy doing something. Overthinking was included. Time got by for some of us - 27 years in this case.
Social media's beauty proves the immediacy to end that sort of nonsense. It began with a text to a few who participate in such a new world blessed activity.
Memorial Day Progressive Feast in Rolling Fields, anyone? Who can host the main course? Got it. What about the appetizers? Check that. Dessert? Will do.
And before anyone could wrestle up the performance anxiety that has kept good people from knowing each other for generations, we were exchanging stories on a neighbor's patio. There were stories to balance all worlds. Histories for the dreamers and dreams for those who are too certain.
Attendance at the first Rolling Fields Feast was small in number and tender in intention. Many decades were represented. The stories flowed from a position of both blooming and aging. And it was good stuff.
I was reminded of another night some forty years ago when, after a seemingly endless summer back in my hometown, a reunion with newly made college friends occurred prior to fall registration.
Wipsy memories drift about …. barbecue and an endless backyard somewhere. A pop-up Love Train formed to intensify the O'Jay's giant hit song which floated over the soft night air..
What I did not understand then becomes clear now. Safety is not a wish best delivered from a distance. It is a feeling gained, even in a world that is rocketing with change, from living in community. A ticket on the neighborhood love train delivers. And I'm not just talking good food.
With the following recipe, Sara Evans, Director of A'museum, and her husband Joe Evans, Minister at First Presbyterian Church, presented a new option in appetizers for the Rolling Fields Feasters. My daughter Mary Ann demonstrated to me later endless usage of Spring Rolls Skins which can be stuffed with a variety of chopped vegetables and herbs. “Use you imagination,” she said.
1 package of spring roll skins
1 package of rice vermicelli noodles
Hoisin sauce and/or Thai Chili Sauce for dipping
Thinly slice cucumbers and add enough rice vinegar to cover and set aside.
Slice remaining vegetables and prepare rice noodles according to the package.
Heat a shallow pan of water to just below boiling.
Take one spring roll skin and submerge it for 30 seconds, or until soft.
Remove it and layer noodles, peppers, basil, cilantro, and cucumbers.