Archive for October, 2011


Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I hope this posting finds all readers feeling well and happy—dry feet, full belly, no immediate worries about life, with beautiful people and things to look at.

At this time of year, the most beautiful things in Maine in my opinion are the apple orchards, their trees so heavy with apples it seems their boughs will break under the sheer weight of so much fruit. Our family’s ” orchard” consists of three ancient trees. We don’t really do much to encourage them to produce. I think my husband may have pruned them last fall: In any case, they are likewise laden. Unsprayed, these apples are a little worm-bitten, but not so much that you can’t select the more attractive ones for eating or the making of pies, and since they haven’t been treated with anything but rainwater, you can eat them right off the tree. They are SO GOOD!

Was it Ben Franklin who said that the existence of beer was proof that God loves us?

I would count apple trees as another proof. Speaking of beautiful people: I had the privilege of attending a Badges for Baseball event at the University of Maine at Orono last Saturday. The Carl Ripken, Sr. Foundation teamed up with the U.S. Marshall Service to sponsor a day-long baseball camp for children from what are known as “underserved communities.” The coaches were all cops—municipal, county, state and federal police officers from all around Maine, including a healthy contingent of Lewiston and Portland officers, there to have a good time with children from Maine’s large concentration of resettled Somali refugees. Perhaps half the hundred or so middle-school children were from this group. The girls wore their U.S. Marshall Service t-shirts over their layered dresses, and their Cal Ripkin baseball caps on top of their headscarves, and there were a few who did some pretty spiffy pitching and fielding despite the weight of so much fabric. They were astonished to learn that the coaches were all police officers. “Really?” said one boy, whose name (he earnestly informed me) was Mohammad S. the initial being necessary to distinguish him from the three other Mohammads in his fifth grade classroom. “But they look normal!”

This might sound as if Mohammad S. had had bad experiences with American police officers, but in fact the suspicion was almost entirely due to his family’s experiences back in Somalia, where police officers were scary, untrustworthy men to be avoided at all cost.

I’ve seen the same astonishment in the eyes of a young Russian woman when she finally understood that the game wardens who arrived on the scene of her American boyfriend’s tragic drowning were not there to check her immigration status, abuse her, shake her down for money, or indeed, do anything other than provide her with as much help and comfort as was humanly possible. The idea that men and women in uniform exist to offer assistance and comfort to ordinary, innocent people is one that most Americans can take for granted. May it always be so for us. May it soon be so for all people.

At the Badges for Baseball event, the children received baseball cards with the pictures and “statistics” of their local law enforcement officers. Sadly, I don’t have a baseball card myself, so I was reduced to passing out my business card.

“Hey!” said Mohammad. “This has your phone number on it!” “Yes it does,” I said. “So if you need help, you just give me a call.” “Okay,’ he said, very seriously, tucking the card carefully away in his back pocket. “But don’t forget—I’m Mohammad S.” I will remember.