A Bubble of Americana

Here’s an idea for the perfect getaway vacation. Imagine walking down a street made of bricks, where no cars are allowed. You hear piano music floating from the windows of more than one charming old house. Here comes a man whistling as he walks, and you recognize it as a Chopin waltz. You stop and wait for a group of little kids on bikes with no parent in sight. They ride wherever they please, just like we did as kids. No need for a play date. these kids are just out for the day. As you walk along, you hear people laughing and talking on their front porches, and if they look your way, they wave. Everybody you encounter is smiling. People you sit next to on a bench engage you in conversation. When you go into a store, the girl at the counter smiles and seems genuinely interested in your having a good time. She actually likes her job, and when she’s not serving a customer, she’s reading a book. Many people are walking their dogs, but they’re all under control, and no little kid yells, “Look! It’s a dog.” Everything is kept sparkling clean, from the front porch steps to the red brick walkway to the amphitheater. there will be no dust on the seats or even under your feet when you attend the next lecture. Everyone you meet is interested in learning and has a sense of humor. Every other person seems to be a musician, a writer, a scholar, or at least a reader. You look around at the audience before a lecture, and you discover that someone like Stephen Spielberg is sitting 2 rows behind you. You see a lot of little old ladies with their canes and walkers, but they are just as eager to keep their minds and bodies active and healthy. Teenagers hawk daily newspapers in the square, as in olden days. You leave your door unlocked, even at night, because this is Chautauqua.

Last year, I checked off an item from my bucket list, to go to Chautauqua, CHQ. Then I told you that next on my bucket list was to go again, and I did. See my post on 8/11/2015. I just returned from a week of physical and mental exercise with my friend, Dan. Yu know him as Driver Dan.

Each morning, we walked a mile to the aquatic center for 10 laps of swimming and then walked back to our respective rooms at our rooming house, so there were 2 miles and 500 meters before breakfast every day. The rest of the day, we attended fascinating lectures and discussions with such notables as Roger Rosenblatt, Jane Pauley, Gary Trudeau, Alan Alda, and Bishop John Spong. We managed to squeeze in a little plain old fun by renting a pedal boat, even with Dora along. Don’t we all look charming in our May Wests?

In the evenings we enjoyed music from the Army Brass Band, the CHQ Symphony Orchestra, and a variety of other entertainment.

One of the highlights for me was to have one of the teachers of prose give a quick critique of the book I’m writing. He was very encouraging, and I was thrilled to hear him say it looked quite promising.

As we drove out of the gates on the last day, we felt like we were leaving a bubble of pure Americana—Americana with the ambiance of the fifties but the search for knowledge and truth of today.