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Birney Imes: The trumpets of angels

 

Birney Imes

 

A.J. Steverson wants to set the record straight. It's the Hitch Lot, not the Hitching Lot, as it is often called. A.J. should know. He grew up in a white clapboard house near the southwest corner of the Hitching ... I mean Hitch Lot. He can remember when farmers hitched their horse-drawn wagons there and walked up the hill into town. 

 

A.J. apprised me of this Saturday morning during the misnamed Hitching Lot Farmers' Market.  

 

"There used to be a building there where they stored hay," A.J. said, pointing to the north end of the paved lot. In the distance a man on a grader was moving earth on what will soon be a soccer field. 

 

We were standing near Archie Noy's stand of angel trumpet, a large flowering shrub with fragrant, showy trumpet-shaped flowers. Archie, a Ceco retiree, propagates them in his backyard.  

 

Archie was one of about half dozen vendors selling plants at the market. The Master Gardeners had trees, shrubs and roses; Mary Tuggle of Palmer Home a fragrant array of fresh herbs and market manager Tony Rose a delightfully oddball selection of plants he's propagated or grown from seed. 

 

My assignment this morning was to come home with radishes. Scott and Lydia Enlow had three types I was told -- actually, they had five -- and though I was at their stand shortly after 7, they had already sold out of diakons, a Japanese variety they grow. 

 

Read the radish entry on Wikipedia and you will find the following item: 

 

"Citizens of Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrate the radish in a festival called Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) on Dec. 23 as a part of Christmas celebrations. Locals carve religious and popular figures out of radishes and display them in the town square." 

 

Christmas in Oaxaca for the radish festival. Put it on the bucket list. 

 

Much has been written and said about Tom Hardy, who passed last week. Doubtless much more could be said. Rufus Ward, who has a tribute in today's paper, told me the story of how Tom learned to fly. We were standing among a flurry of produce shoppers with a Suzuki string orchestra providing a sound track. No one who knew him would be surprised to know Tom soloed after an hour's instruction. 

 

If I had to come up with a one-word description of Thomas William Hardy, that word would be vibrant. 

 

Tom was at home in the world. You could have dropped him anywhere and he would have made friends with the folks he encountered and then caught a ride home.  

 

He and my father used to sail together. They dove for lobster off the coast of Florida and more than once bounced in a speedboat from Miami to Bimini and back. As for life on the high seas, the two men had their differences. My father liked boats and the boating life more than he did a horizon without land. Tom, on the other hand, could stay at sea for days on end. Tom's son Will became infected with the same virus and spent a couple years on a sailboat with his wife Judy. 

 

An engaged newspaper reader, Tom hand delivered clippings or personal letters to the editor, words of praise and things he thought I should know. We exchanged books occasionally. Among my offerings was James Salter's beautiful memoir, "Burning the Days." 

 

Like Hardy, Salter was a pilot -- Hardy saw action in WWII, Salter in Korea. The book is vivid and eloquent and contains much that is about life and not flying. Tom returned the book with a conspiratorial smile; it hadn't been what he expected, but he clearly enjoyed the read. 

 

In a passage about one of his classmates at West Point, James Salter might have been writing about Tom Hardy. 

 

"Even now I sometimes enter a room thinking of him doing it, imperturbable, assured, drawing people's interest, their admiration. ... Something priceless had been given him, the power to attract, to be trusted. You could not imagine him dead -- whatever happened, he would get through. That was written on him. It was the promise of nature herself." 

 

For 93 years Tom Hardy "got through." And, as my mother said about him, "He was a man happy in his skin." 

 

As for my mother, she is still "getting through," and for that on this day for mothers (and every day) I am grateful. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birney Imes III is the Editor and Publisher of The Dispatch.

 

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