Monday, June 18, 2012

Samenesses and Differences

Something that I brought with me from Texas is an appreciation for a complicated, colorful sunset.  Last week when we went to Portsmouth, and stopped at the grocery store on the way home, the sun and clouds were PERFECT in the parking lot.  Blues, pinks, yellows, golds and all sorts of colors in between.  So glad that the clouds and colors are wonderful here.

We met my son, DIL and the Judester for father's day dinner in Arlington, MA.  (kind of half way between there house and ours, and close to the cousin's house as it turns out.) Well, Arlington is VERY close to Cambridge, Hahvahd and other tony suburbs.  We arrived early  and hung out at Starbucks. But in front of Starbucks was a pocket park that was MADE for PEOPLE.  That is, it had stone work the perfect height for sitting on, benches, flowers, landscaping, adequate trashcans.  It was lovely.  AND, sensibly enough, there was a bus stop at the north end of the park (and at the south end of a mini parking lot.)  So when I saw a woman who appeared to have all of her earthly possession in two large shopping bags, I appreciated what I perceived to be a New England community sensibility.  She corralled her belongs, and did not bring unwarranted attention to herself.  (I had seen some  disheveled and not especially clean looking men sitting, chatting and also "behaving themselves" better than anyone who I suspected might be homeless or living in a shelter back in Texas.  AND, the people in the park who seemed to be part of the neighborhood acted polite, reasonable towards the OTHERS. 
This country could use more of that.
Another difference is that, pretty much, EVERY roof has shingles and multiple angles, gables and windows.  There are lots of solid stucco walls in Texas.  And lots of tile roofs, too.  Don't see those here except on Mexican Restaurants so far as I have noticed.  I had a good time (and challenge) attempting to draw the little shopping village with it's gables and windows.  Perspective is something on which I have only an intermittent grasp.

Down by the parking lot there was another park.  In it was a granite--- (you would not BELIEVE how much granite there is around here!!  Not marble, but granite... and it sparkles!  Anyway... a granite war memorial. It honored members of all the armed forces who sacrificed their lives in all US conflicts. You can see that there were flags arrayed around the center circle, as well as a red, white and blue wreath.
Plano had recently erected a memorial to fallen solders, but I believe it was for those who died in the first Iraq War.  That might have more to do with the demographics of the population.  Plano had a population of about 1300 in 1900 and got to 3600 by 1960. So I am thinking it wasn't until recently that there was critical mass to create momentum for such a monument.
But Arlington's population increased by 90% in the 1920's. 
Arlington, on the other hand, has been active and full of civic pride since Paul Revere's ride to Concord and Lexington started there.

A little to the South (appropriately enough) there was a memorial that seemed to be a memorial for the Civil War as it had words by Abraham Lincoln on it: " Forever One Inseparable" and "That the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Even though I think of Texas as more "West" than "South" I realize I never saw ANY memorials supporting the outcome of the "War of Northern Aggression."  This monument made me happy.

Something else you don't see much in Texas is coat racks in public places.  Because you hardly ever NEED a coat.

I really liked the brass hands that serve as coat hooks in Not your Average Joe's.  (And I'm glad it was a warm day so I saw, noticed and photographed them!)
 We took the long way home... i.e., NOT any of the freeways, and ended up going through Lowell.  Lowell calls itself the Mill City and is proud of its historic heritage and relationships with mill workers.  Today the mills are closed, but there is a lively university culture, small manufacturing businesses and immigrants from pretty much everyplace.  The houses are not maintained with suburban perfection.  This one was in danger of having wood rot set in... but I also thought it had character... especially with the afternoon sun painting the upper story with it's warm yellow, and leaving the lower part in a shadowy blue... not to mention the happy pink next door.

Houses in Texas are mostly newer and mostly brick.  The sun has a harder time painting them pretty colors.
There are human turkeys everywhere.

I never saw a wild turkey in Dallas County. 

But just a mile or so away from our hotel, we flushed out two wild turkeys near the intake for the water treatment plant on the shore of the Merrimack River. They are VERY obvious on grass or the road, but the disappear totally in the shrubbery!

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