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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Beacon Bits -- Frozen

After the first snow and ice of the season, I witnessed an unfortunate accident that turned into an escapade for a runaway kitty who was on the way to the vet for a post-surgery visit on Wednesday, December 4th. I was taking my own cat for an emergency visit for gastrointestinal symptoms and as I was parking by the Salvation Army, I noted my friends getting out of their car with their cat carrier and as the gentleman went over the icy snowbank by the curb, he went down and hit the carrier, which released the door. The cat, Minna, got out of the cage and was face-to-face with a dog who was leaving the vet's office. Minna ran down Main Street looking for an opening or doorway that she could enter. When she got to the Yankee Clipper Diner, she found a crawl space opening and disappeared into its cold, dark cavernous space, that appeared to only have the one entry without an exit on the other side, which faced the parking lot. I was concerned about my friend and hurriedly got out of the car and across the street to tuck my carrier into the vet's office, careful not to slip and fall on the icy snow banks that lined Main Street and went to investigate if my friend was OK and to see if there was anything I might be able to do to help. There was already a small crowd gathering around the portal where Minna had entered; fortunately my friend was not hurt and he and his wife were determined to retrieve the cat. 

Needless to say, there was a scurry of activity. Calls were made to the local fire and police departments, and the DCSPCA to no avail. The veterinarian's staff got a towel sprayed with something meant to calm and attract cats, food, and a Have-a-Heart trap positioned by the opening. But after several hours in the cold and dark, my friends had to warm themselves up, and went home after telling the owners of the diner what had been going on outside their establishment. They repeated the pattern of going back and forth to the diner on a daily and nightly basis, without luck, and with a resolve that they might have to accept what might happen that seemed to be out of their control.

Fast forward to Monday, December 16th, after days of checking in and hearing updates that Minna was holding her own in her fortress but was not giving into the enticement to enter the Have-a-Heart tray, the diner's electrician who was doing some work in the basement of the diner knew that there was a window that opened into that space, and was highly motivated to become the hero of the day by retrieving the cat, which he was successful in doing! At last, Minna was recovered and returned home to my friends.

Anyone passing the Yankee Clipper Diner during the 13 days that Minna was camping out would have seen the traps and wondered what was happening. Everyone who heard about the adventure of a cat who needed rescuing did ponder why the story had lasted as long as it did without a fireman, policeman, or animal rescue team being available and/or able to assist in retrieving Minna from her hiding place. But the happy ending to the story is that Minna was returned to her original home upstate to my friend's niece since she had not adjusted to the transfer to her new home in Beacon with her cat mate who had adjusted nicely. Minna did not want to move to Beacon and she seemed to hold out long enough to get 'home again' and to be the only cat in her original household, or so it seemed that she had been rewarded with what she may have longed for and missed. No one really knew how the story would end, but there seemed to be a sense of community around the event, with curious and supportive people who were interested in Minna's and my friend's welfare during a taxing time; everyone was pleased there was a happy ending.

Great diner food and 3good service with kind owners who care about community

Food for thought: Despite the happy ending, it is the beginning of this story that caught my attention:  the fact is that snow and ice removal on Main Street is sub-standard. While the ordinance requires that shop owners are responsible for shoveling, it is done imperfectly since there is a pile of snow that borders every curb, and narrow cut-aways make a way to the street as if they magically line up with car spaces or car doors opening. When the snow and ice melt and re-freeze, it leaves a mound of snow and a small opening that may not be reachable when cars park and passengers are ready to egress from the car. This dilemma, with the influx of tourists, and more locals shopping in the stores throughout the week during the winter months, is how to keep everyone safe and the method of shoveling needs some adjusting. Children, animals, elderly people or those with disabilities, and even a young person in a hurry or texting while traversing the streets is at risk for falling on the sidewalks, which could make shop owners liable and equally vulnerable. A community attitude would take this issue seriously and the new mayor and city council members could approach it with a win-win solution-oriented fix to a problem that will not go away on its own. And we do not need a Hallmark movie about rescuing stray cats to get that accomplished!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Beacon Bits--Urban, Suburban, Rural or International?

It really has been fourteen months since my last post and I have had it on my mind since last March when I was pondering what has happened to the Beacon community with its major construction along the 9D corridor and Main Street. It was only when some neighbors mentioned the blog and it had been the second time that someone noted its absence that I began to think about writing once again. So much had happened that came between me and my musings, but I am starting to feel the need for closure so I thought I'd pick up right where my thoughts had left me last spring. 

I guess I was feeling annoyed with the influx of so many trendsetters last spring that I looked at the gentrification occurring in Yonkers and thought that if the new Beaconites wanted a place to live along the Hudson River, there were more opportunities closer to the city to live than to choose Beacon.
New buildings on Main Street near MTA in Yonkers

I sensed a loss of community because there seemed to be so many new faces, reckless drivers and lots of strangers visiting town to imbibe in the countless breweries while sightseeing and acting as though they were not interested in growing roots. I projected some of my own frustration about not having as much time to spend visiting the shops that I would frequent and engaging in conversation and activity in the many groups I remained a friend. Daily commuting and other responsibilities were taking their toll on my joie de vivre.

Then I realized that the groups I supported were still going strong. The movie theater, Story Screen, opened long after I had originally donated some seed money to the revival of the Beacon Theater. The Howland Cultural Center was having its celebration and recognition of its leadership after 40 years of existing as the arts hub and "jewel" on Main Street. The Howland Chamber Music Circle was still inviting the best of the best musicians to perform intimately with an appreciative audience. The Beacon Historical Society, in its new home at 17 South Avenue, was making new inroads with those who wanted to know more about the past history of a river town before rushing to its future. The Beacon Sloop Club was still singing and hosting festivals and sailing the Woodie once again. And these are some of the groups that create community amongst neighbors, new and old, so who was I to judge?

So the question of whether Beacon is urban--the new borough of Manhattan, or suburban--just a 70-minute express ride on the MTA train for new commuters, or rural--one of the better places to find community supported agriculture choices nearby, or international--the place that those visiting NYC must put on their list when needing a break from the Big Apple, may not need to be decided since Beacon may be the projective screen so that it will be whatever a person would like it to be. 

While recently attending a meeting of the Beacon Historical Society featuring native Beaconite Patricia Schultz who wrote "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" and "1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die", it was clear that Beacon could make the list in the next edition of the book with all of the praises she sang for Beacon's place in the Hudson River. I think I would second that.



Food for Thought: I guess my desire to start blogging again is born from the adage 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'. The absence of the sense of community is something to rectify. Community is about connection. Connection is about social support. Social support is more than networking with others. It is about feeling nurtured, sharing information and having a sense of belonging. Beacon offers many activities and opportunities for connection; it is time to start exploring some of the old and new ways to meet and greet new neighbors.