In keeping to the theme of my previous thoughts about simple solutions, I began reflecting on simple pleasures.
Back on the road, after our stay at the family cabin in the Catskill mountains, my travels took me to my high school reunion in Poughkeepsie, New York. It turned out to be a delightful gathering filled with reminiscing and storytelling. My favorite story and memory that I shared with a grade school friend was a tale of adventure.
As young boys living in the country, we probably had more freedom than young children are allowed today. My friend lived on a farm, and the barn had a metal roof. We would sit on a sheet of wax paper and slide down the roof with total unbounded glee. Another fun memory from simpler times was the high school senior prank of somehow getting an administrator’s Volkswagen Beetle up on the domed roof of the auditorium building. Let me make this perfectly clear in a Bill Clinton voice: “I was not involved with that activity!”
My trip through the Northeast (and down memory lane) next took me to White Plains, New York, just north of New York City. White Plains offered breakfast crumb cake, a good bagel and a good slice of pizza. As much as I love Durango I do miss these simple culinary delights.
The crumb cake is a heavier version of the Entenmann’s store-bought, boxed version with considerably more CPSI (Crumbs Per Square Inch). Catholics are required to go to confession after eating it. Thank goodness I am not Catholic, so I could eat it guilt-free.
I do not know why Colorado cannot make a good bagel. Some of the theories are that the dough doesn’t rise as well in the higher altitude, or that the water, which is an important ingredient, is not right. There is a misconception that New York City water should not be good. The reality is that it is excellent as it comes from upstate reservoirs in the Catskills and the Hudson River valley.
As for pizza, everyone has their own tastes and biases, and mine are partial to NYC. If you need further explanation of pizza and how to eat it, just pull up the old Jon Stewart bit from the “Daily Show.” Hilarious.
Driving on a country road in the Northeast is also different from Colorado driving – it is another one of my rediscovered simple pleasures. Colorado has unmatched majestic space, panoramic views and sky. It is, of course, stunning. But a country road in the Northeast offers denser, leafier and closer trees that form a canopy over the road, giving the impression that you are driving through a tunnel, albeit one that is friendly and comforting.
The other item that I miss and crave from the east is fireflies. I miss them so much that when my daughter, now in Virginia, asked me what I would like for my birthday, I suggested a video of fireflies (or lightning bugs if you prefer). She complied and I now have a video that I can pull up on my phone to get my firefly “fix.” A recent Science Times article claimed proof that these lighting marvels actually coordinate their flashes so that they all light up at once, creating a dazzling display of subtle fireworks.
My next stop was Cape Cod, where I was reminded of the delights of an outdoor shower. Except for winter, why did we ever move showering to inside? The open air, the varying temperatures of the water. I think you actually come out smelling better than in the humidity of a closed-door bathroom. And I know you feel fresher and more invigorated. If you want the full experience, take a shower at night under the stars, an even better natural form of outdoor light than the fireflies.
We took a wonderful walk, way out from the beach during low tide. We spent time on my friend’s yacht (OK, 17-foot boat). Not quite the Kennedys, but I bet we felt more privileged and grateful.
Not meaning to sermonize – but today maybe let’s all try to find, recognize and be grateful for the simple pleasures in our lives.