Not So Great Gatsby Addresses Providence

springHello Motif Readers,

Yes, this letter is addressed to you, not my dear friend Nick Carraway. I realize that almost every missive addressed to him is usurped and perused by the Motif sphere of influence much the same way that a teenage girl knows her mother reads her diary.  Some things are just the way they are.  So while Nick is away on his vacation, I figured I would point my itchy triggered pen at you.

2014 is shaping up to be an interesting year.  We will have a new mayor in Providence, a new governor in the glorious building that houses the holiday tree, and the state’s economy continues to struggle.  Let’s put all that aside for today, though, and have a little fun.  I thought I’d give you a list of do’s and don’ts for springtime. Gatsby’s Guide to Spring, if you will.

Do: Plant a garden. The kind with food. Yes, you will grow your own food. It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate; it can be just a couple things on your porch or in your windowsill. Factory farms are the biggest polluters on the planet, and many GMOs created by these food factories substitute nutrition with money saving, profit growing products that aren’t good for our bodies. You may love gardening, and you’ll have a new hobby and save money on healthy foods. Even if you hate it, you will have an idea, and new-found respect, for what goes into getting your tomatoes on the shelves of your markets. Maybe instead of buying the tomatoes from South America at the store, you’ll seek out the local produce at the farmers markets.

Don’t: Skip out on a barbeque or party with friends to go watch “Game of Thrones.” Or “Mad Men.” Or the game. As you go through life, very few of your memories will be defined by who sat on the Iron Throne on a specific Sunday night. Your nostalgia bank (or Instagram account) should be filled with fun evenings spent with friends (and Don Draper is not your friend). Someday we’ll be too old to get around easily, or have other responsibilities, or move far away (like Wakefield) and a night around the fire pit or grill will have to be a labor intensive, highly orchestrated event. DVR your show; Westeros can wait.

Do: Go for ice cream. At a real ice cream shop that makes it on site with a window you walk up to and order from. Sit at the picnic table and plot out the perfect summer on a napkin or scrap paper. Extra points if you can do this with a kid (A kid who is yours or you have permission to be with, creepy van drivers!). Once you’ve had a cone and made your plan, throw away the paper and let the chips fall where they may.

Don’t: Drink and drive. This one seems pretty logical, but strangely in RI it’s not. As the weather gets better, and days get longer, the cocktails begin to flow. And because this is RI, most people think, “I only live around the corner.” Don’t risk everything you have, including your life and the lives of others. The Uber app means a cab ride is just a push of a button away. Yeah, it costs $30, but you’re alive and not in jail. And while you’re at it, stop texting while driving, too.

Do: See an outdoor performance. Anything you like to watch you can see outdoors this spring and summer. Whether it’s a concert at Waterplace Park, or TRIST’s Shakespeare in the Park, or a Pawsox or Red Sox game, you can turn the great outdoors into a spectator sport. Almost all of it for free.

Don’t: Forget how lucky we are. Yes, the traffic is bad on the way to the beach. BUT YOU ARE ON THE WAY TO THE BEACH. It’s going to be too cold, too hot, too rainy, and too dry and sometimes all at once.  But in a couple months it will be over, all too soon. Don’t let the summer pass you by, and while you are out enjoying it, be thankful we can.

Do: Take a day trip. Go up to Maine for lobster or to the Berkshires to Tanglewood, or to New York City to take advantage of the summer rates and see a Broadway show, or to Saratoga for the horse races. Pack a picnic, stay in a bed and breakfast or motel. Get a little lost and find a little bit more about yourself.

I hope you have a wonderful springtime, Motif. It only comes around once, and what you do with it is up to you.

Very Truly Yours,