The days I spent recuperating at my sisters in Simi Valley, California allowed me what I thought at first was a mistaken indulgence: I was able to reach out consistently to the people of Plymouth and engage myself in some of the activities going on without me.
A mistake perhaps because eventually I will not have the ability to communicate regularly with friends and family and associates at home: I need, I thought, to steal myself against that emotional pull and focus on the work ahead, the pragmatic lessons I need to put in place, the ruthlessness with which I must pursue each mile and trample it underfoot.
But then, at the last moment, as I sat on the train taking me back to the desert I was able to participate vicariously in a very special event in Plymouth, one that has special significance for me, not only for the times I participated in it while in Plymouth but for this walk as well.
The annual lighting of the town tree in Town Square – a long time Kiwanis event that has bloomed into a real iconic American community celebration – centers around a tree that as long as I can remember was a donation from a family in Plymouth who, perhaps, thought it would be better for it to have short-lived fame in Town Square then to loom threateningly over their own home for another winter.
This year‘s tree, according to many sources, was more shapely them recent donations, well-suited to the scope of town Square, and a nearly perfect fit for the 100+ oversized ornaments that the DPW would adorn it with.
Have you looked closely at the tree for the past four years? It is decorated with ornaments representing many, but far from all, of the towns community focused nonprofit organizations.
I call it CommuniTree ( Though some mistakenly believe I am trying to be politically correct in doing so) and it was conceived from the same inspirational moment as WalkingHome, the year-long sojourn I am undertaking at this moment.
Both are meant to highlight, promote, and celebrate the real foundation of our community: the individuals and the organizations without which our community would be a cold and uncaring place.
Imagine what Plymouth would be like without all of its youth sports organizations? Imagine what the town would be like without NAMI or without the ARC. Where would this historic town be without the care, preservation and the foresight of organizations like the Antiquarian Society and Pilgrim Hall. Are you prepared to do without the arts, represented by the PHIL or the Arts Guild? Would you mind if the town was covered with sand pits and strip malls,? Thank nonprofits like Wildlands Trust, SEMPBA, and the Herring Pond Watershed Association for fighting to maintain and preserve our rare and wondrous ecosystem.
Those and many other organizations, big and small, are represented on CommuniTREE
And so I took great pride in seeing this tree lit up once again, for the fourth year I believe, and seeing (in pictures sent to me) members of these organizations posing before their own ornaments, before their tree, taking pride as they should in the accomplishments of the past year, the work that often goes unheralded, unseen and yet is the firm foundation of true community
So perhaps I will be distracted. Perhaps when I should be considering the level of water inside my backpack, where to make the next turn off old route 66 in the middle of the Mohave desert, or a hundred other moment by moment decisions I will instead be taking a sentimental journey back to Plymouth and the wonderful people and organizations that I became acquainted with in the 10 years I worked for the Old Colony Memorial.
How can I eradicate thoughts of organizations and individuals that inspired me so, and to which I have dedicated this next year.
I cannot. I will not. I look hopefully to you to carry on and keep me informed of the events, activities and good works that instill in each of us the sense that Plymouth is our hometown. It can’t get much better than that,
There are over 100 ornaments on the CommuniTREE this year. Let’s work together and make sure that next year there are twice as many.