That infernal vernal …
When I was in college, all the literature and history majors studied Classical Greece. And there was no debate about it — they were required courses.
The thinking behind that was Greece was where it all began, as far as we were concerned — “we” being western civilization. Every one could parrot that — even people that knew nothing of Classical Greece or any Greece, except maybe the cooking variety.
According to this thought, ancient Greece was where all our institutions originated. That’s where our plays came from, as well as our philosophies, art. rhetoric, public speaking, and of course our democracy.
(Kwik Note: I’ve heard it forwarded that we learned about democracy from Native Americans, and even if that’s true, for the purposes of this column, we’ll assume we got it from the Greeks, OK?)
Having been both a literature and history major, I took a bunch of courses on Classical Greece, three of them from one teacher I’ll call Prof A.
Prof A was a brilliant scholar. He taught in the English department, but he was fluent in at least three foreign languages (including, of course, Greek). He also was a first-rate historian. His classes were solid lecture, from the first bell to the last, and his material and presentation were excellent. He was incredibly demanding of his students, but I never learned more from any other teacher. As I said, I took three courses from him, but only one was required — I wanted to take his classes.
One thing about him, though – he was so hung up on the Classical period, he thought civilization had been on a downhill slide ever since. In fact, he once said in class that the peak of civilization was Classical Greece. In other words, for all practical purposes, he figured the world had been in the crapper for the past 2,300 years, give or take.
Obviously, he was no one’s idea of the life of the party. Too bad, too, because you can argue about all sorts of issues about the ancient Greeks, but one thing that’s not up for debate is this: They knew how to party.
They pretty much confined their partying to their festivals, which took place over several days and each of which was dedicated to one of their gods. Of course, they had about as many gods as we have reality shows (which it seems have become ournew gods). So they didn’t have long waiting periods between festivals — just enough time to sober up, mind the flocks, have a debate or two, replenish the stocks of plonk … and then get down to it again.
Ancient Greeks and airbags
Of course the world has changed immensely since I was in college, and our worldviews have changed as well. I doubt that stress on Classical Greece exists anymore, if there’s even mention of it at all. Matter of fact, these days maybe the only things college students think the Greeks contributed to western civilization are ouzo and souvlaki.
But that’s too bad because I feel we need aspects of ancient Greece now more than we ever did. I was reminded of that after a convo with the brains of the I.B. Hunt Agency, Caroline Morin Salls. It was only a small part of our chat that brought the Greeks to my mind: She told me she had to settle a claim on a vehicle that hit a pothole so huge, it made the side airbags deploy.
And what, you might now ask, could potholes and airbag deployments have to do with the ancient Greeks?
Well, those potholes, as well as cracks, frost heaves, splits, dips and all other manners of asphalt hell now adorn our byways are a sign.
Actually, they’re two signs.
One is they’re a sign of Adirondack spring.
The other is they’re a sign My Home Town is missing a vital festival.
Why feel down when you
can party down?
Winter Carnival, in addition to being my favorite religious holiday, comes at the perfect time: We’ve been in winter long enough that we need a break/blowout, and WC provides both — admirably. And spring seems just over the horizon.
This summer we’re going to have a town festival, now in its planning stages. If it’s as much fun as the town parties Sandy Barndru organized, we’ve got a great shindig to look forward to.
But what about now?
The “now” I speak of is the one of potholes as big as above-ground pools, endlessly grey skies, cold temps, with some snow and sleet thrown in for the hell of it. I’ve heard it’s spring in the civilized climes, with sun, blue skies, warm temps and birds merrily chirping away. They even have splotches of grass — as opposed to our endless expanse of brown frozen mud, adorned with all manner of detritus and dog poop.
I said by Winter Carnival, it seems spring is just over the horizon. Well, this year if it is, it sank there. We’ve had one very long, very hard winter, no matter how you cut it, and it gives no sign of letting up. The result? From what I see of my friends and fellows, we’re having a full-fledged epidemic of Cabin Fever.
So this is a perfect time for a springfest. And we’ve got the peeps in town who could do justice to it. Think of all the talent it takes to organize Winter Carnival. Well, those organizers and workers are still here, and compared to Winter Carnival, this gig would be a breeze.
Plus, look at the folks who put on the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They did it completely as a grassroots effort, and each year was bigger than the previous one. Unfortunately, due to the weather we’ve had since then, I can barely remember it anymore through the tears. Which is another indication how vitally needed a spring blowout is.
But what if we have a mild winter and a beautiful spring? Even better, sez I. A huge party following a miserable winter and spring is a win-lose. After a nice winter and spring, it’s a win-win.
But back to the here-and-now …
I had a long talk about the ravages of cabin fever with my shrink buddy, Herr Doktor Profesor Russell Sheffrin, especially MY current case of it. He told me what every shrink tells everyone about everything, namely while I can’t control the weather, I can control my reaction to it.
I pondered that for a long while and decided he’s right.
And my reaction is to march into Stewart’s every day and devour a banana split.
But I’m careful not to overdo it: I take mine without sprinkles.