Drew and I were discussing where to go for vacation this summer. Last summer was the cruise, and before that was Disney/Universal, and before that was Colonial Williamsburg . . .
And we realized we can't really go anywhere.
We're funding a trip to Italy, it's Becca's graduation present.
And we both have other issues going on right now. Money is just a bit tight.
And since we want to do Greece and Turkey next year . . .
But it's not like we won't be having any fun. We have tickets for Broadway shows, concerts, baseball games. . .
And we will be doing a lot of day trips. We want to see the 9/11 Museum and memorial at the World Trade Center, and take a tour of West Point, maybe spend a day in Mystic. We are lucky to be within a day's ride of so many interesting things to do.
Listen my children and you shall
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If
the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!"
and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through
alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the
Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books
you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
They both witnessed events that sent shivers of fear down the collective spine of the Jewish world. Two events, thousands of miles apart, but both on the eve of Passover, the Festival of Freedom, the defining moment in the history of the Jewish people.
In Kansas we saw a modern evil. A lone gunman, a white supremacist who has been very vocal in his anti Semitism, shot and killed two people at a Jewish community center, then shot and killed a third person outside a nearby Jewish assisted living facility, Village Shalom. How sad he chose to make war at a place named "Peace". Ironically, none of the victims was Jewish.
In the Ukraine . . . It feels like we have stepped back in time. Back to the 1930's and 1940's.
The Ukraine is in the middle of political turmoil. A leader deposed. Territory seized by Russia. Unrest, protests, a country where there is no peace.
In Donetsk, pro-Russian separatists have taken over government buildings and have declared a "people's republic." Their leader, Denis Pushilin, has set up a temporary government, in defiance of the central Ukrainian government.
On Tuesday, the first day of Passover, near the town's main synagogue, masked men handed out pamphlets, purportedly signed by Pushilin, in which it was written that all Jews over 16 must report to the Donetsk Regional Administration Building and pay a $50 fee to register themselves and all their property. Failure to do so will result in revocation of citizenship and deportation.
Clearly evocative of the Nazi era.
Pushilin has denied any involvement with the pamphlets. No one seems to know who was responsible for this.
In medieval times cats were considered evil, the companions of witches, demons in disguise.
Now I understand why.
In a way you can't really blame Duchess. Her routine has been compromised, her domain invaded.
Last weekend Drew had a houseguest. And tonight he hosted a Seder, which meant furniture was rearranged to accommodate dinner guests.
Duchess was sleeping in the office when Nina and I walked in there to have a chat. Poor cat realized there was a STRANGER in the house and got spooked. We didn't notice which direction she ran.
After dinner we all realized that no one had seen the cat all evening. So we all started looking for her. Under the beds -- no luck. Under the dresser-- no cat. She wasn't in her favorite window. She wasn't in the upstairs bathroom. We checked all the closets, several times. Even went outside, in the rain, to look in the yard and under the cars.
Three different people checked the closet in the office, no cat.
And then Marc went onto the office to put leftovers in the spare refrigerator.
And guess who popped out of the closet as if nothing had happened?
Once again Passover is here. We gather together in my parents' dining room, read from Haggadahs that are wine-stained and contain matzah crumbs from decades of Seder dinners. We sing "Dayenu" and feast on gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzah balls, brisket. My mother is the "leader" now, my father listens intently. The "children" - now young adults from 17 to 24 - hide the afikomen, and it falls to me to redeem it.
The funniest moment of the night? We pour a cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah, and open the door to allow his spirit to enter our home . . .and, as if on cue, Redford the cat comes strolling in.