Nothing says New England like the soft glow of apples, shining in the sun, the fascinating texture of tree trunks and branches, the spell that infuses the understory of an orchard. I’m missing my jaunts to the Northeast, but reading the works of authors whose words capture the classic spirit of the area sustain me.
Several years ago I received a book of E. B. White essays as a gift at Christmas. I haven’t had a chance to read them all, but it is fun to save them as a treat on days when I’m feeling down.
Although the essay I read on a recent afternoon was a lament for the disappearance of sleeper cars and passenger trains, it was heartening to hear the author’s echo from the past, of a mode of transportation I knew still existed, but I never experienced, in my early years. It sparked thoughts of things passed, that I myself mourn today.
Simple things, like neatly packed grocery bags pushed to our cars by polite bag boys or girls, people who pumped our gas and performed on-the-fly fixes; telephone operators who would assist us for free, no matter what type of problem we were experiencing.
Dial telephones without answering machines could actually be more efficient than smartphones. When I was a kid, we all felt secure in the fact someone would help us if we suffered a serious problem, without a long wait, though we weren’t connected 24/7.
Now we supposedly have unlimited access for our every need or desire, if we have a smartphone, but we must push buttons and wait for many minutes before we can reach a human voice. Everything is about company profits, not convenience as marketing propaganda would have us believe.
If E. B. White were alive today, he would certainly have material for essays memorializing conveniences that have been lost due to the need for company profits, as was the difficulty with passenger railways in less populated areas, once interstate highways were created.