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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

THE MIRACLE OF HARMONIOUS BLEND

Each year about this time a little miracle happens; a group of men gathers together together to sing and to rejoice in one another’s company. This past weekend, the Colgate Thirteen members from the 1960’s, now calling ourselves Vintage Thirteen, met once again on the shores of Lake George hosted at the beautiful home of Paul Bradley ’67 and his ever-gracious wife Linda.
Each year we come together to sing the songs we sang as undergraduates and to marvel as our closeness ripens, embracing us all along with our wives and significant others.  Seeing us together, an outsider once remarked - ‘men don’t bond this way unless they’ve just killed a deer together’.  Well, we’ve learned they can and do.
 We stand together, side by side, staggering our breathing so the musical line is unbroken, feeling each other’s warmth, sensing the times when we are completely in tune and the occasional times we need mid-course correction.  It’s a magic feeling when the group of us becomes a single singing instrument.  It's an out of body experience.
Singing this kind of music, at least doing it well,  requires not only the skill to blend but also wholehearted commitment to sing as one. Each of us, whatever the natural timbre of his voice, chooses to soften its edges to intertwine with the others in quality, pitch and volume. We pay attention to our leader, to each other, to our audience and to the story each song tells. To “sell” a song we all have to be together inside its story and to experience the thrill of  making it happen right now.
We have come a long way, this group of old friends, now in our 60’s and 70’s. Each of us retains the heart of the person he was in our college years, but we have each been shaped by the nicks and dings of life. Our own edges are softer now. To be sure we are softer physically (alas), but happily our egos are even softer. 
These reunion weekends are a miracle of harmony, musically and in terms of fellowship. The afterglow is much like what happens in the Christmas season when we wonder why it can’t always be this way - why we can't always bear deep love in our hearts for our fellows.
Come to think of it we can if all of us the world over will learn to blend, will stand shoulder to shoulder committed to harmony.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SHARING THE BARNEVELD ROADS ON LABOR DAY WEEKEND

There’s no place quite like Barneveld for feeling close to our fellow creatures!
We set out Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend for a bike ride, with hopes of riding a couple of hours before the rain which was expected. It was hot and humid but the breeze in our faces kept us cool -- well, cool enough. As usual there was hardly any traffic and the farms and fields slid backwards past us as we rolled forward past them.
What made it special was a few wonderful moments shared with others who were enjoying  God’s bounty with us along the way.
A mile after turning left off Steuben Valley Road to head uphill to Holland Patent, a heron treated us to his prehistoric take-off and flight in a swampy marsh. He may or may not have seen us, but seeing him let us know we were in deep country.
We made the long gradual ascent, puffing happily and breathing in summer’s kaleidoscopic array of fragrances until we reached the top of the hill where a few homes have set themselves down with commanding views. In the driveway of one of these, a mother stood behind her teenaged daughter lovingly brushing the girl's golden hair. The girl held a mirror and she and her mom seemed to have eye to eye contact. We waved to them. They waved back. “Good mornings” were shared in a moment of sweet connection.
Then the super downhill swoop into Holland Patent - we had earned it with our uphill.  “WHEE!” kind of sums it up.
On the way across from Holland Patent, we first saw an Amish family drawn by two horses coming toward us. It looked to us as though they were heading for church and we exchanged open smiles and waves as we passed one another. Another connection and we pedaled on. 
Two miles later we could see another buggy coming but this one was practically flying behind a proudly trotting black horse, its ears pricked up with the joy of its own speed. An Amish boy held the reins, wearing his black go-to-meeting suit and blue shirt and radiating with the biggest most gleeful open mouthed smile either of us had ever seen. Was he late for church? If so, he surely didn't mind. We waved, he waved. It almost seemed the horse waved too.
On the way home, we shared the road first with a couple of partridge, whirring up at the side of a cornfield and then with an eagle who flew from his roadside snack to a nearby branch to let us pass. 
We got home just as a few raindrops fell. It had been a blessed two hours and five minutes, 25 gorgeous Barneveld miles and smiles we'll carry with us a long, long time.