“St. Agnes’ Eve — Ah, bitter chill it was!
“The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold.
“The hare limped, trembling, through the frozen grass,
“And silent was the flock in woolly fold.”
So begins John Keats’ poem, written in the 1800s in England. Little did I think it would be generally applicable here in Lodi, but it certainly has been these last weeks of nights. The cats have decided in is better than out, except for short sorties at noon or so, but it takes a lot of checking during the day to determine out time. Guess who has to go open doors? No wonder I never get anything done!
We’ve had a mixed weather year, for sure. Right now, all the paper whites are blooming right next to frozen hydrangeas, and bulb greenery is finding out what ice is. Fortunately, as usual, the Japanese maple tree in the back garden put on its wonderful red coat for the last weeks of November, and absolutely glowed in early mornings’ red-gold sun.
I saw something for the first time the other day. A big old gray squirrel was in the feeder, and a smaller red squirrel was on top. Both were eating like there was no tomorrow! I’ve seen two small squirrels in the feeder several times, but never a double-decker! Unsalted peanut shopping is a priority!
A few roses are still blooming and there is at least one in a vase on the kitchen sink shelf,. along with ripening persimmons. Poinsettias and amaryllis are more to the point.
I’m sorry to have been silent so long, but this past year has been a hard one, and the time since July particularly difficult. My husband went into hospital at the end of August and died in mid-September, and, given all the complications added to a death by county, state and national requirements, I had no energy left for much of anything else. But I am beginning to have a bit more energy, now that most complications have come to an end. Of course, there’s always the chance that another official requirement snake will come slithering out of the woodpile, but one can cope better with one thing at a time.
I couldn’t have coped at all — or cope now, for that matter — without the tremendous love and support of my family in particular, and of friends here and in far places. For that matter, I am blessed all the time by kindnesses shown by mere acquaintances and by strangers. An old lady with a four-footed cane can attract offers of help getting in and out of the car, stowing grocery bags, carrying things, climbing up over curbs, etc. To all who have so helped me or offered to, my heartfelt thanks. Of course, my family and closer friends get my constant thanks, prayerfully and practically. Bless you all.
Speaking of climbing over curbs brings me to a cause to fight for: I am becoming conscious of situations which need to be corrected.
The city and some private enterprises have done great things to aid the handicapped among us — at least, those in wheelchairs. But what about the “walking wounded,” those whose physical problems, particularly balance, require them to use crutches, walkers, and a wide variety of canes? Many establishments have flattened out their front sidewalks to a very slight incline from the street to the door(s). The WW bless them; particularly if the handicapped parking spaces are near the entrances. (I can think easily of Staples and Walgreen’s).
But in most places, the sidewalks in front of entrances require stepping up and stepping down. The first is not so bad, but the second can be a real risk of losing balance. Of course, parked cars in the area can provide handy props in both directions, as can a sign standard or light pole. But what about businesses putting two or three short, attractively designed poles on the edge of the sidewalk in front (and, on a corner, to the side as well)? They can line up with parking stall markings or, if in a no parking area, be placed every six feet or so. We who are about to fall down will salute you!
Don’t relax just yet. There’s a second part to this — where handicapped parking spaces are located.
Some places have these spaces right in front, realizing that handicapped doesn’t describe just a person in a wheelchair. There are other places where handicap parking is farther away from the entrance than regular parking, because only persons who can at least sit in a wheelchair are thought of as the handicapped. It is not as hard for them to sit and wheel a fair distance, as long as ramps are provided. And sometimes not much thought at all is given to the placing of handicapped spaces in a parking lot. Striped walkways are important for any kind of handicap aid, as is dealing with traffic flow and congestion.
I wish the powers at Lakewood Mall would grant me a modest Christmas wish: Please make the parking space in front of the mail dropbox a handicapped space, and the one next to that a 5-minute space. That way, those of us WW who have to use the mail drop can do so without having to walk a considerable distance. Many WW walk in pain.
Gwin Paden has been writing this column, off and on, since 1999.