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Gwin Paden: There is so much to be grateful for here in Lodi

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Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:00 am

Hurray for rain! The kind we have been getting is really a gift — not too hard but steady. Of course, there was that one gullywasher — and we do need more of those — but it didn’t smash too many enthusiastic bulbs. Steady rain is best, but the cats don’t like it. They expect dry weather if they go out a different door! There are some things their mother can’t do!

We are fortunate here in Lodi in so many ways. Of course, nothing is perfect — it’s not expected to be, but we are so much better off than so many other places in the world. We don’t have to duck and run for cover when we hear an airplane coming over, and our homes have not been reduced to rubble through no fault of our own. But people everywhere can be grateful that in even the worst places some little flower will raise a brave head, or bit of green will encourage hope.

When I backed out of the driveway this morning, I discovered a row of pink and white tulips I can’t see from the kitchen window, and one bright red one in a corner bed nearer the front. Tulips don’t last as long as daffodils, but they are a glory in their own right, and these raised my spirits.

We can also be grateful that we have so many and varied programs at Hutchins Street Square to enjoy: visiting performers of all sorts and our local groups, the Lodi Community Band, the Lodi Youth Chorale and several drama ensembles.

In small cities like ours, we can still maintain personal contact in spite of the isolating nature of so many electronic “conveniences.” We can make personal contact in local stores and businesses, meet each other on the street, join together in churches and social groups, share walks and runs and special events. We can still care about each other when there is hardship or a special need, and show it in benefits of various sorts.

I wonder, if things weren’t so instant or convenient and we had to work harder at providing basic needs every day, if there would be so much graffiti, vandalism, gang activity, theft or crime in general. There are always some who will choose this direction, but most of us would be too tired at the end of the day to even think abut it!

How many people do you know who could pack up a few treasures and as much food as possible and head for unknown territory in a covered wagon — alone or with a few people they didn’t even know? Maybe those who are courageous enough to start a new business these days, God bless ‘em, know something of this feeling!

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese philosopher-poet whose books first came out in the ‘20s, says that work is love made visible. We would do well to remember this.

The other day, a friend showed me a holly seed, the little black speck found inside a holly berry.

Under the microscope, it became a pale brown oval with raised veins, evidence of created beauty even so far from sight. And yet, from this speck — one of many in one holly berry on one holly tree in one garden at one homesite in one neighborhood in one small city — can come the life force that will make possible another holly tree somewhere else,

And from this comes the realization that most, it not all, living things spring from seeds of one kind or another. The life force is an awesome thing and it certainly isn’t man-made.

Looking back at the beginning of this column, I see that I failed to mention another blessing we have here: so many good painters and photographers who are willing to share their views of life with the rest of us. We have many places to enjoy these, and the newest one is Tony Segale’s Double Dip store on Pine Street across from City Hall. The ice cream is delicious, and one can eat it walking along two walls filled with paintings to enjoy.

Also — and I haven’t gotten there yet — try the new little café on North California Street, near Lockeford, and the new bakery on East Oak. This last will help fill the void left by Cottage Bakery, which is closing its doors after 25 years, first on School Street and then on South Stockton Street.

And one to end with: “He who knows he has enough is rich.” — Anon.

Gwin Paden has lived in Lodi since 1957. She served in the Women’s Army Corps, worked for local newspapers, and taught English at Lodi High School and San Joaquin Delta College.

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