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Second-hand Adventures Still Fun
Last week I saw an amazing sight. Linda, my manager, a colleague and I were touring some homes in eastern Indianapolis when we saw at least 200 robins out in a grassy plot. I assume that they were migrating. Has anyone else seen this or have a better explanation for it? We've had large numbers of crows in our yard, but nothing like this. Old Granny said that when crows gather like this they're having a "cawcus."
My mother would have loved seeing those robins. I also wish that she and my sister, Christine, could see our semi-tame beggar squirrel who sits on a stump outside the greenhouse window and stares in intently until we notice it and go to the door with nuts. A couple of weeks ago, Bill said, "Someone's at the door." "There's no one there," I replied. Then I heard an odd noise. "Squirrelie" got up on the snow shovel that Bill had left by the door and used it as a platform from which to jump onto the window frame where it clung until it slipped off. "Bring me some nuts this minute!" Sometimes it scratches at the door. It would like to come in the house-no thank you very much!
Thomas Aquinas said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." However, until recent years most people didn't have the money to jaunter off to foreign lands. Also, they married young and had to become responsible citizens. I knew elderly people when I was a girl who were never outside of Henry County.
My parents longed to see the exotic and wondrous places of the world. They never got farther away than Canada, although Mother did achieve a lifelong dream of seeing the ocean when my stepfather and she went to Florida. Edgar was a poppet, but he was not adventurous. No sooner had they arrived than he said, "Well, we're here - I suppose it's time to head back!"
My parents had to settle for second-hand adventures. They learned about the world from books, radio programs and movie shorts at the old Alhambra Theater that used to be on the Public Square. One of their favorites was Lowell Thomas. Thomas was a self-promoting, innovative adventurer-explorer-movie director-radio star-entrepreneur. He did so many different things that the Library of Congress had to create a special category for his biography.
During World War I, he went to the Middle East where he met Lawrence of Arabia, whose legend Thomas established when he toured the world, narrating a film that he made. It included incense burners and exotically dressed women dancing in front of the Pyramids.
My parents read his books such as With Lawrence in Arabia, Beyond the Kyber Pass and India - Land of the Black Pagoda. I heard them discussing the Black Pagoda. "Well, did you ever! A temple with statues that no woman should see!" Boy, did that whet my curiosity!
They also listened to his radio news broadcasts that he ended with "So long until tomorrow." He made some hilarious bloopers that Eric probably wouldn't print in this family newspaper. Only Paul Harvey has had a longer radio career than Thomas. I remember Thomas's TV series during the 1950s called High Adventure. During his travels he developed a huge group of friends from the Dalai Lama to Franklin Roosevelt.
Sometimes when I read about the adventurous lives of people like Thomas, National Geographic Explorers or those who filmed the marvelous TV series, This Planet Earth, I feel as if there's a feast out there of which I have not partaken. So much to see and do and taste and experience-so little time or the will and energy to do it.
If you haven't seen The Bucket List starring the incomparable Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, do so. It's funny, poignant and beautifully acted. Two terminally ill men concoct a list of the things they'd like to do or see before they kick the bucket and then set off to do them. Along the way they learn some lessons.
I'm wise enough to know that at age 70 I'm not apt to set off on exotic adventures. I'm never going to climb even the flanks of Mt. Everest, explore the Amazonian jungle, deep-sea dive or go on safari to see the great beasts of Africa. I must do better at extracting every bit of pleasure from the minor, everyday adventures that life abundantly throws my way such as experiencing a sauna for the first time, seeing those robins and being entertained by Squirrelie.
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