In all of the hoopla in the news last week about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the Port Authority, and of all the many statements Mr. Christie made during his two-hour news conference Thursday, the three words that stuck fast in my mind are these: Politics ain't beanbag.
Were someone to ask, "Martha, as a journalist, what did you take away from that news conference?" - although, of course, nobody ever does ask me anything like that - but let's just say someone did - I would have to say "Politics ain't beanbag."
Although some have been calling Mr. Christie a liar, I must take him at his word on this point. Presumably, if politics were beanbag, we would call it beanbag.
As an example, we might ask a political science major, "What are you thinking of doing to pay off your student loan when you get out of school?"
He or she would then reply, "I am going into beanbag."
The fact is, however, that in the real world this conversation never takes place, for the simple reason that, as any poli sci major knows, politics ain't beanbag. Who ever said it was?
Probably Democrats. Here's why.
When I researched this quotation, by meticulously Googling "politics ain't beanbag," I found that its original source is a satirical newspaper column written in 1897. Since then, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have, on different occasions, publicly stated "Politics ain't beanbag," although I'm pretty sure that what Mitt actually said is "Politics is not beanbag." Now Mr. Christie, perhaps feeling that we need to be reminded, is once again calling the fact to our attention.
While the politicians rage on, North Country residents go about their daily business despite weather conditions people in warmer climates can scarcely imagine. There is talk by meteorologists of hunkering down, as in "The people of the northern high elevations are hunkering down as blizzard winds carrying snow, sleet and freezing rain and -look, Janine, there goes an Adirondack chair! - hit the area. The temperature is 36 degrees, but it feels like negative 22. There is flooding in Upper Jay and AuSable Forks. Stay inside and keep warm, folks!
This is crazy talk, though, because if Adirondackers hunkered down every time there was a little extreme weather, we would all starve to death. The truth is, most of us cannot afford to hunker down. We have to keep moving.
Everywhere you look, people are crunching along the sidewalks and across ice-covered parking lots with heavy-duty crampons strapped to their boots. Adirondack weather ain't beanbag.
If school is not canceled due to inclement weather, I'll be going to Keene Central School's Knitting Club this week. On Tuesday afternoons, students from grades K through 12 can be found in the home ec room learning to knit and working on projects. Mothers, teachers and community members come, too. It's informal and fun, and I'm hoping to get some tips from a little girl named Caitlin who is surprisingly adept at knitting.
So far the little garments I have made do not closely resemble the photographs in the instruction book, but my granddaughter doesn't seem to mind, and my daughter is kind about it. When she posted a picture on Facebook of Emma Rose wearing a pink sweater I'd knitted, I noticed that the sleeves had been rolled several times. Of course Emma looked adorable anyway. The general look of the sweater was improved by its first machine washing and -drying, but after that it didn't hold up too well to the rigors of highchair and playground baby life. I am now trying to find a more resilient kind of yarn. Knitting ain't beanbag, but I intend to keep at it.
Teetering precariously on the ice, knitting baby sweaters, watching politics on television: It's all part of the life here in Keene Valley, after one has reached a certain age.
That, and trying to be healthy. My sister told me that since we might both live another 30 years, it's a good idea to get a tune-up at this stage. She is probably right, but I don't enjoy it much. The thing I find particularly unfair is that, like the aforementioned little pink sweater, I have shrunk with age, and, now that I am shorter, I fall into a different category on those height-and-weight charts. Without gaining a pound, I am becoming increasingly overweight. No, getting old ain't beanbag.
Have a good week.