Hey, Waddington, N.Y. …

“Please, celebrate me home…”

Dateline: The Dining Room Table

We are the lone balloon

in the sky.

We live amidst a lot of stuff, that isn’t us.

In fact, we are a planet of stuff; you and me, we’re just hitching a ride.

I know the ocean is there, but does it know me. The sand I walk on seems to have a pretty short memory of me.

Does the wind, feel me.

Does the tree, know I read underneath her leaves.

Do the other planets see our dot in the sky.

Does Mother Earth know we call her,

home.

“…play me one more song…”

Hey Waddington, the more you look at the larger picture,

the less you see.

I know you have lost lots of industry and jobs to China, but you know what, the St. Lawrence River isn’t going to move to China.

Factories come and go.

The river is here to stay.

Dance with who brung you. You came here because of the river; the river didn’t come here because of you.

We live on a blue planet; the water that kisses your shore isn’t your past, it’s your future.

Your shores touch something special, a gift from the planet. Protect it, celebrate it, shout it; if you won’t, I will.

The St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the upper and lower Niagara River and Lake Erie…all the great lakes and their equally great rivers are the best kept secrets in North America.

Those waters are a sportsman/woman’s paradise, not to mention a shore walker’s, a bike rider’s, a sunset watcher’s, a dreamer’s, paradise.

Rustbelt, my buttocks.

Hey, Waddington, your industry is paradise. Promote it, embrace it and know that it will never leave you,

for China.

“…that I’ll always remember…”

Hey Waddington, the past is your,

future.

On your Main Street that ends in the blue waters of the St. Lawrence, I met a couple covered in dust.

Block by stone block, they are fixing the childhood home of Vicki McDonald. “We are trying to restore it to its original state,” her husband Steve tells me as he leans out a window.

Vicki:  “I was a little kid in this house; I’ve found in the walls my old jacks, playing cards, some of the stuff from my dolls…”

Vicki is sitting on the scaffolding outside her house, as she tells me what she has found I can tell for a moment she also has found Vicki of the past…

“…we lived all over the country, ALL OVER, but when we had a child, Jimmy, we came back home.”

As I’m about to leave, Vicki tells me of her son, normal proud of son stuff, but then she says, “Our son told me once that he was thankful for us moving back here, that he couldn’t have been brought up in a better place.”

Hey Waddington,

nice.

“…whenever I find myself too all alone…”

Hey, Waddington,

thanks for the thousands who came,

but it is just a few who I will remember.

Darin Greene, an artist, a village trustee, a retired fire chief, and a couple other titles that I forgot.

Darin was cool, not your normal politico, not the kind the PR types steer you to; he agreed with me that the future was floating all around them and wouldn’t be leaving for China.

Darin, trust in the village and trust in the water…bring a bait shop to town…bring fishing guides to town…build a world class fishing lodge for anglers to stay in. Trust the water; it will not fail you.

John Dinneen, a school teacher, an English teacher who if I had a dude like him teaching English when I was back in school I might not have failed English 10 three times.

I know when he reads this story he will realize that I’m still failing English 10, which I told him I plan to do for the rest of my career.

Mr. Dinneen…as the song says, “Teach Your Children Well.”

Teach, teach them to be the best and stay to make Waddington the best. I met a ton of the kids in the area; they are the future of Waddington. The river is theirs… teach them to care for it, love it, and champion it.

It was one of their handprints in the cement floor of the Little League dugout, a sight, a photograph I won’t soon forget.

“…I can sing…”

Hey Waddington,

listen.

I don’t know her name, but she wore what looked like a Day-Glo St. Lawrence River long sleeve t-shirt.

To those who run the joint of Waddington, I want you to know what she told me as she stood selling t-shirts away from all the official vendors.

It was just a gentle tap on my arm; her voice was as soft as the tap. In fact, I had to lean down to hear what she said; and what she said blew me away, didn’t have to write it down because I will remember it for a long time.

Remember it for its grace.

Remember it for its conviction.

Remember it for its love.

This is what the Day-Glo lady said in a whisper to me, “That’s our child out there,” as she pointed with her head to the river behind her.

“That’s our child out there.”

We are the lone balloon in the sky, and yet,

it is the sky we care about.

The river does not know we are here,

but we think of it as our child.

We care for the stuff,

that has no idea there is other stuff here.

That is the KIND in MAN.

We can take a rock in space, we can take brown and blue, we can take pavement and grass, wood and rocks,

and make it home.

Hey Waddington,

I leave you with this.

This week Paul Elias, Shaw Grigsby and I stayed in the home of Brett & Shirley, a  young Waddington couple, Brett a lineman, Shirley an engineer, they of their late 20s/early 30s.

They lived elsewhere, but came back to you to live.

This coming Sat., August 17, they will be married in a church in your town but right now, in their newly painted kitchen, they wrote this up on the wall:

“Family…is where our story begins.”

It is where all of our stories begin, with family.

Hey Waddington,

I will miss you but I look forward to your future, which I know will one day be bright.

I know because you are a town of families, past and present, and that is where your story will begin,

with you families,

including,

“That’s our child out there…”

whose name is,

The St. Lawrence River.

“…me home.”

“Celebrate Me Home”

Kenny Loggins

Talk to you next week from the Elite event in Detroit,

db

Also By This Author