No end of wonders and mysteries
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 19, 2015


“The frozen and crumbling sky, the countless shoals of crystals swimming down the night, the street a quiet sea of white...

“There is no end of wonders and mysteries: fireflies and music boxes, the stars that outnumber all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world, pinhead eggs that become caterpillars that dissolve into genetic soup from which arise butterflies, that some hearts are dark and others full of light.”

This is how I got through the snowstorms and celebrated my birthday, reading Dean Koontz’ new novel, “Innocence;” a very happy week. Of course Chip did the heavy snow-blowing: the path from his house to mine, mostly for the cat to run from his woodstove to my lap; the necessary paths to the woodpile and the bird feeders; then the long driveway, that must be done before he can reach my front walk, so I shovel that myself, except for the end where the snow plow has made a pile too big for me to lift. Then I plop an old rural-route mailbox on top of it for the mailman.

Here is where I’m able to contribute to The Salem News special reports on special people who helped others during the storms; someone took away that pile! I didn’t know who, until I was checking out my roof through an upstairs window and saw my neighbors Paul and Carol clearing the snow pile again after the second storm.

Their presence not only freed me from my house, it took me to happy summer memories, when Carol brought me a milkweed bush for my monarch butterflies (see quote, above), and the weekend days I enjoyed Paul’s music playlist as I lay in my hammock next door to the driveway where he washes his car. (See “hearts full of light” above).

Salem’s A&A Services, which I’ve long used for home improvements, responded to my call for help with the roof. Another neighbor, Bob from down the street, brings his snowplow or bucket loader to our driveway on the way home, sometimes leaving them here after clearing enough that Chip can get to our cars.



Chip and his snowblower

I’ve been surprised by my partner’s good mood; usually he finds snow a nuisance and fantasizes about moving back to the Florida Keys. But this storm cycle was different: I think he found the extraordinary amounts of snow a challenge, rather like a political campaign, a ballot question petition drive. He carefully dresses in layers, including a pair of bibbed ski pants that still fit though many years have passed since intended use. He maps out his route, with turn-offs for turn-arounds; if the snow-blower breaks down, he fixed it with “just the right tool” and some old boat-parts. He forces his way down the path, followed by the wild turkeys that are somehow staying alive.

It’s hard to watch the wild critters struggle with the snow. The little birds seem to be doing OK as people fill feeders; the squirrels raid them, knocking seeds to the ground for the turkeys. Chip was told by wildlife control not to ground-feed the turkeys (which no one is controlling), but In the morning we see rabbit tracks so Chip puts out food for them at night, after the turkeys and squirrels have retired.

I read this great quote in National Geographic, in a story about elderly people around the world, from one Ruby Timms, age 85. “My mother used to say, ‘If you live to be 70, that’s all that God promised you.’” It makes me feel as if my extra two years, so far, is the frosting on my birthday cake.

This week I really recognize the value of being old instead of young — thank you, God, that I’m no longer commuting to work on the MBTA. Talk about poultry: Here are the chickens coming home to roost on a system that has been abusing taxpayers and its mission for as long as I’ve been a taxpayer activist.


The usual congregation of backyard wild turkeys


The Pioneer Institute has done a report on the T with a recommendation of receivership. I plan to write an entire column about this soon.

But today I’m indulging in birthday musings. In honor of George Washington, I must tell you a truth: I’m not a college graduate. This admission is inspired by the Democrat charges that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not qualified to run for president because he didn’t finish college. I can only ask: In the context of recent presidents, what does “qualified” mean?

The subject arose because Gov. Walker dodged a British reporter’s question about his position on evolution. This question will be asked of all Republican candidates, and the only proper response is, “Why would you ask a dumb question like that?”

The theory of evolution, long-proven, is my favorite theory right after gravity. But as I look back on my 72 years, I have to wonder: Somewhere in that time-frame, did mankind reach its maximum evolved point, and are we now devolving? Or have the dark-hearted ISIS savages always been subhuman, merely inactive while America was strong?

Odd thought of the day: Perhaps our younger generations are evolving into electronic devices, with the attention span of goldfish...

Wasn’t it nice of Governor Charlie to declare Valentine’s Week, to encourage support for the restaurants that lost business because of the weather? I made Chip’s favorite tuna casserole for Valentine’s Day, but my friend Josey and I will go to lunch to celebrate our shared Feb. 17 birthday; must note she is younger than I. Happy Birthday to another friend who shares our birthday, Hannelore of Beverly’s Hannah-Lore Flag Company. She joins us for lunch on our half-birthday in August.

I’m so grateful for having lived during the best of times, having enjoyed “no end of wonder and mysteries.” Now we must save the future, so younger hearts of light have the freedom to enjoy them too.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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