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Over Easy: A few of the things on my mind

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)



For the Valley News
Friday, September 20, 2019

I have long scorned “I Wuz Thinkin’ ” columns, which seemed to be the desperate schtick of a columnist who wasn’t doin’ much — thinkin’ that is.

It’s a ramble through the thesaurus, a typist tossing words and memes against the wall and hoping something sticks. Or so I thought.

Today, I take it back.

I suddenly see that an “I Wuz Thinkin’ ” column is real genius, particularly in this age of Twitter, when the great issues of the day are debated in 280 characters or less. War, peace, justice, the constitution — these are matters not for scholarly tomes, but for something dashed off the top of your head. And it just so happens that I Wuz Thinkin’:

■Foliage season is just around the corner, and many in the Upper Valley will have to entertain restless visitors after they’ve had their fill of leaves. So long chlorophyll, hello boredom. At such moments apple picking is a must. If you don’t buy local apples this time of year, I question what you stand for. You can’t love America and hate apples.

■Sometimes I look at a line of cars in a Route 12A parking lot and marvel at how SUVs, like the dinosaurs before us, now rule the Earth. I am out of step with this trend. I have made peace with hatchbacks, and would welcome the return of the station wagons that in my youth helped tame the suburban prairies. You could stuff them full with your kids, neighbor kids, dogs, neighbor dogs, lawn furniture, a reel mower, a case of motor oil, a bicycle or two, six paper bags full of groceries, a couple of hula hoops and a cooler in the back and the “way back’’ and still have room to pick up a new TV and some fresh fish along the way.

■Which headline will come first? Affordable Housing Project Breaks Ground in Norwich. Or, U.S. Space Force Lands on Mars. I say with little to no snark that I’m betting on the latter. I just saw a story that the Trump family is thinking long term, and mulling the establishment of a dynasty. Who’s ready to invest in Mars-a-Lago?

■Planners love traffic rotaries, but I’ve never met any non-planner who feels likewise. Still, rotaries and roundabouts proliferate on the drawing boards. Are we not sufficiently going round in circles?

■Similarly, everyone I know thinks people are staring at their smartphones too much. But even as I heartily agree, I might think of the recent White House proposal to purchase Greenland and I consider that I don’t even know what its capital is. My hands practically twitch as I try not to drop everything and look that up RIGHT NOW! Spoiler alert: It’s Nuuk. I had to look. But then I wonder whether Nuuk is more populated than Montpelier or Concord. (The answer is yes and no, respectively.)

But even as I was looking that up to be certain, I saw an item about something model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen said about our president, and I have to look up who she is. And the info about her mentions she’s married to John Legend. And I think, wasn’t he in Jesus Christ Superstar Live on TV? I should look that up.

Were we talking about Greenland? Or smartphones?

■I keep thinking the new New Hampshire state liquor store in the nether regions of Route 12A is hidden away in an odd spot, but then I think of the lengths we went to get a six-pack when I was a teen.

■Am I the only one who remembers using paper straws? When I was a young kid, you had only so long to monkey around with your straw before it got soggy. That gave us less time to shoot spitballs at each other at soda fountains, which wasn’t such a bad thing for the adults who found us annoying.

I don’t know if making straws last longer — one online source said plastic ones linger 200 years, another 500 — is progress. One pointed out that if Queen Victoria used a plastic straw at her coronation in 1838 it could still be on display. With all due respect to Queen Victoria, that’s kind of creepy.

■Wasn’t the upsurge in monarch butterflies this summer a cheery change from all the sorry trends in our natural world? I know we don’t get credit for this one, but they came out of the blue like a lovely memory.

■As a person who walks quite a lot in West Lebanon and White River Junction, and has for 25 years or more, I’ve noticed that drivers don’t stop anymore to ask for directions to places like Barre, Vt., or Albany, N.Y. GPS has put me out of work as a directional ambassador.

One harried family once told me they’d turned around when they approached the Canada border. They were seeking Connecticut, but got their north mixed up with their south. I hope my directions worked out. At the very least I hope they stopped before Florida.

■I was interested in the recent Valley News story about the need for a new home for the old drive-in signboard at the intersection of Sykes Mountain Avenue and Route 5 in White River Junction. But I was just as interested in the fate of the old phone booth nearby. I suppose many young people don’t know what they are anymore. They might be fascinated to learn that they were quiet spaces to make calls on phones that never tempted you to think about Greenland, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend or our president.

Phone calls cost a nickel, then a dime and later a quarter. I recall that they lasted three minutes. You had to get to the point, which left loads of free time for thinkin’ — on topics of all sorts.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.