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Let's applaud some good people in the Lodi community

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Posted: Monday, March 2, 2009 10:00 pm

This column has been a long time a-bornin', as the saying goes.

Like a lot of other people, I have been caught up in concern about the way things are going in Washington and Sacramento, and these concerns kept crowding other ideas out. But Wade and Steve and Bob and Joe have said it all for me in their columns - and very well, I might add - so I can go about my usual nattering.

There are some good people in this town who need to be recognized. One group is Helping Hands, who, through Dave Hinchman, provided some really appreciated help in providing escort service to a friend of mine riding Dial-A-Ride to the hospital for daily treatments.

Another group comprises the faithful few members of our American Legion post who keep things going. They are constantly setting up and taking down chairs and tables to accommodate groups who rent the Legion building, making repairs and planning and carrying out the Legion's own fundraisers.

Likewise, there are the faithful few auxiliary members who keep their projects going, like helping at dinners, sponsoring the Boys' and Girls' State program and selling the familiar red poppies.

These two groups, like many others in town, are made up mainly of graying retirees. Where are the younger ones, particularly veterans? One opinion is that, since this is not a draft military as there was in World War II, there is not that sense of bonding. The military is now a job choice. How many organizations are going to die off because they are no longer seen as important to individuals or the community?

It is interesting to note that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin have the exact same birthday - day, month and year. Each was a giant in his way, leaving an effect even now. This month's Smithsonian had an interesting detailed article on each of them, and then another look at them together that made this English teacher's heart rejoice:

"The deepest common stuff the two men share, though, is what they said and wrote - their mastery of a new kind of liberal language … . (They) helped remake our language and forge a new kind of rhetoric … . Their general vision rises from the details and the nuance, their big ideas from small sightings … . Their phrases still ring because they were struck on bells of solid bronze, not chimes set blowing in the breeze."

And, speaking of writing, I came late to these two books, but I recommend them highly. Both are written by Ken Follett, different from his usual work, and both are concerned with the struggle to advance new ideas in the face of the medieval church and social system. "Pillars of the Earth" is set in the 1100s; "World Without End" is 200 years later. Large books both, they will hold your interest way into the small hours of the morning.

Last month, remember, I asked for rain and a firm hand on the tiller. Well, we're finally getting the rain, thankfully. I welcome it with joy, but it bothers me to see trusting flowers that have bloomed too early get flattened into the ground. Still, they bloom bravely on. They do what all nature has been created to do - follow the law their Creator laid down. So there are yellow daffodils, purple violets and hyacinths of several colors brightening up my garden.

The violets remind me of my childhood in Maryland. There was a hill alongside the road we took from our out-in-the-country house down into the town beside the river and every spring it would be covered with violets. Nobody seemed to own that hill and nobody minded our picking bunches and bunches of the long-stemmed blossoms. Along another road, toward the Chesapeake Bay, there were miles of woods and in spring we went there to pick fragrant trailing arbutus. I don't think we have that here - at least, I've never seen or heard about it. A pity; it's gorgeous.

There have been some wonderful cloud formations between rains - all kinds of shapes and all shades of blue, gray and white. One formation looked like a long ice-covered lake at the foot of a range of dark mountains. Imagination can be a great enhancement, both visually and in the sense of, "What if?" There can be a danger, though, if supposition moves into the negative rather than the positive.

Gwin Paden has been a Lodi resident since 1956 and in her present home since 1969. She has had various careers in writing, teaching, and in the WAC, and has been active in numerous community organizations.

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