If we all lived as Phebe Ham does, no one would drill oil at 5000 feet.
Phebe, who lives in Concord and turned 78 last Thursday, rides a bike to avoid the expenditure of unnecessary fossil fuels into the atmosphere. She lives in a forest toadstool of her own design and liking, a creature of this world. In the finest sense. Small is good. Efficient is better. Rescuing greyhounds is in the spirit of the adventure (she has two).
When she rides through town on her bike, her wispy hair flying out behind her, what one notices is not the eccentric but the smile. Phebe is happy. I imagine she is eight again or maybe eighteen, when she headed off to Radcliffe, pedaling like there was no tomorrow because — speed is fun. Riding a bike well, eight decades into life, is an expression of competency. One of those learned behaviors that lasts a lifetime, and as life progresses, grows exponentially more fulfilling. The mere fact that one can ride a bike, whiz through town, brings aging to its knees.
When she speaks at Town Meeting, as she often does, she raises hard issues backed up by hard research begging hard answers of the assembled. All too often she is dismissed as a little wacky. There is nothing so successful in undermining a woman alone than the tacit (behind closed doors) assertion that she is crazy.
Phebe is anything but.
Today she thew a self-described 'gala' — part birthday party (though no one was to know), part welcome to her sister who was visiting from the West — and everybody was there. Our entire neighborhood came out to fete Phebe. Because all assembled cherish her special brand of gleeful self-determination and, in equal measure, her global determination to make Concord accountable for itself.
Truffle: Getting in a little gardening on a muggy blah day. Mulching our new azalea bed — rare yellow azaleas salvaged from the cottage next door and replanted for our future appreciation down by the river. May they thrive.
Quote of the day: "I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish." (Dame Edith Sitwell)