Press-Republican

Columns

March 26, 2008

Warming up on a frigid Easter

My friend Ted's great to have around at family holiday gatherings, so long as the family gathers at somebody else's house.

For instance, his wife's side of the clan had a joyous reunion for Easter at her father and mother's house on Cumberland Head last Saturday. Sisters and brothers from around the globe converged on Plattsburgh to see if everybody remembered each other's names.

You know how those family get-togethers are -- everybody is unofficially assigned a duty. Some are cooks, some are carvers, some clean up, etc. What Ted's job was going to be wasn't exactly clear.

It's generally best to keep him clear of the kitchen, where there are so many sharp or hot things. The living room isn't great, as his yakking tends to interrupt the flow of the NCAA basketball tournament on TV.

The consensus was that the best interests of the entire family might best be served by keeping him outside, as much as possible. To that end, he was assigned the Easter egg hunt.

The egg hunt pretty much corresponded to his best interests, as well, in that he was free to smoke out in the yard. Back when Ted took up smoking, four or five decades ago, indoor smoking was one of life's great pleasures. They had items called "ash trays" back then that populated every room of every house. Now they are considered collectors' items.

The remaining smokers no longer light up with impunity in living rooms owned by non-smokers. Instead, they politely excuse themselves from the assemblage and retire to the porch, where they are free to enjoy their puffing in weather conditions that would have sent them fleeing for cover 20 years ago.

Ted will go outside for a smoke and make like he really craves the fresh air. Depending on the weather, he eventually returns to indoor society, dripping wet or shivering uncontrollably, and tells you he'd just had the time of his life out there, communing with the bracing North Country winter. He hasn't had anybody to talk with out there, of course, but it's just as well, as it's kind of hard to get your thoughts across when your teeth are chattering so hard.

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