Remembering not to take simple things for granted

This Just In...

November 21, 2001|By Dan Rodricks

I WOULD LIKE to thank the wind for creating a sudden shower of red and yellow leaves a few minutes before noon on a perfect day in October on the Gunpowder River. I'd like to thank my mother, the former Rose Popolo, for the fantastic blueberry pie she still manages to make for her children and grandchildren. I should thank the goldfinches for showing up in my yard again, and for eating from the thistle feeder outside my kitchen window. I'd like to thank the retired teacher Eugene Munnelly for his wit - and for his past copies of The New Yorker. I'm grateful for that long and pleasant bicycle trip my children and I were able to take on a cool summer day through the Lehigh Gorge in Pennsylvania. I would like to thank Ralph Moore for having a conscience and speaking out on behalf of Baltimore's poor. I would like to express gratitude for last winter's freeze and how it made possible a few happy days of skating on a friend's pond in Glen Arm. I'd like to thank Harry Kovelman for being a fine coach and mentor to boys. I'm grateful for a float trip down the North Branch of the Potomac, through a beautiful stretch of river in recovery after more than a century of pollution. I'd like to thank Jermaine Gardner for his talent on the keyboard, and Jermaine Lewis for his on the football field. I'm thankful for the opportunity to see shad again running like silver bullets through our rivers in spring. I'd like to thank my sister for playing her "Auntie Roseann" role as large as possible last summer and making my children feel like visiting royalty. I'd like to thank the tree outside my window; it's a city tree, a little homely and oddly shaped, but its roundish leaves last long into the fall, beyond Thanksgiving, and they look like new gold coins when sunlight splashes on them in the afternoon.

Newfound paranoia

A friend writes:

"I went to the post office in Cockeysville one morning to mail a Buffy the Vampire Slayer tape to my daughter in England, and found myself standing in line behind two young men. They seemed to be in their 30s, evidently from someplace in southern Asia, I guessed, based on their black hair, dark skin and lean, delicate builds.

"I was thinking to myself how, two months ago, I would have paid little attention to them. But now, in the wake of all that has happened since 9-11, I had thoughts of `sleepers' and `cells' and terror rattling through my head. Crazy, I thought. These were just two regular guys, living and doing business in a new country. Forget it.

"Then, as their turn came and they approached the postal clerk, I began to notice that the two employees behind the counter - one black, one Asian - each gave the pair a wary glance. These days, how many times a day must innocent people from Arab countries, from southern or central Asia, endure such glances? How vulnerable must postal workers feel every day. How depressing this all is.

"The two men, pleasantly and with good English, presented a postal slip and asked for a package. They showed a notice summoning them to pick the package up. There was a long wait.

"Finally, the clerk returned with a box the size of a basketball. I can't remember all that was said - by this time I was at the other window getting my own package mailed - but the gist was this: The two men said they had been asked to come to the post office to pick up the package because it was mailed from Pakistan, and because its labels indicated that it contained `medicines.'

"The clerk half-apologized for the inconvenience. The two men expressed understanding, given the events of recent weeks. They explained that the box contained `epilepsy medicine.' There was an exchange of thanks, and the men left with their package.

"My imagination took off. Sure, this probably was totally legitimate. On the other hand, if the package contained a fresh supply of anthrax spores from some terrorist cell in Karachi, who would be the wiser? The clerk did not ask the two men to open the box and reveal its contents. I could not know if it had been opened and inspected by customs or postal inspectors somewhere else.

"The box just walked out the door. And I walked out a minute later, amazed at my own newfound paranoia. How depressing this all is."

Bridge beauty

TJI reader Matt Neufeld, on last week's dispatch from under the Bay Bridge:

"Everyone should boat under the bridge sometime. Just a few years ago I was on a friend's 32-footer and we traveled there in the boat and it was definitely awe-inspiring. The friend told tales of how his father worked on the bridge way back when and how many folks actually worked on the bridge, and how a few died helping to build it. And then the song, `Under the Bridge,' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers actually came on the radio ... "

Something's fishy

Olin Yoder, artist and professor of art, reports on an encounter with a visitor from out of town during breakfast at the Blue Moon in Fells Point:

"He was dressed like a Key Wester and he had a New York accent. He said he was a merchant mariner [and] that he had been all over the world, but that he had seen something strange in Baltimore. I asked what it was and he said, `There's an artist in town who must sure like fish. His work's everywhere. Everywhere I go I see this fish on a two-legged pedestal. The problem is that he only knows one shape, and they're all the same size. He doesn't seem to have any imagination.'"

Yoder then explained what the guy had seen: Fish Out of Water, a project involving dozens of different artists. The guy looked at Yorder and said, "Oh." is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. He can also be reached at 410-332-6166.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.