TRR photo by Jonathan Charles Fox

“Birch fragment IV,” glazed ceramic by Naomi Teppich

With a little help from my friends

So far, 2018 has been a rollercoaster that knows only one direction—and it ain’t up. I might have mentioned having contracted the flu, which began Christmas day and hung in far longer than anticipated, but that issue seems to be fading away. That said, the bitter cold has been just that, positively brutal, and the freezing temps are partially responsible for other problems that I’ve been dealing with, including, but not limited to, being mobile. My poor beloved Nissan pickup is on its last legs, er… wheels, and destined for the junkyard at the end of the month, according to mechanic extraordinaire Mike (no relation) Fox, whose expertise is beyond reproach. After 21 years of faithful service, there’s just no fight left in the old girl, and I’m really sad to see her go. Aside from it being the end of an era, I don’t have much (read: any) money to throw at the problem, so am doing my best to fend off panic, which (IMHO) is not my forte.

Last Friday night the cold snap was in full swing, and I had plans to attend the opening reception of Callicoon’s River Family Wellness Center (see this week’s feature story, page 12), but when I turned the key in the ignition? Nothing. Not a gasp, not a whimper—nothing. But as I turned the key repeatedly in frustration, The engine cranked, the radio weakly sprang to life for a brief, shining moment, and I heard the Beatles singing softly in spite of my wailing aloud.

“When I was younger, so much younger than today,” they crooned, “I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now those days are gone, I’m not so self assured. Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.” As the lights on the dashboard dimmed and the radio sputtered out, I pondered the composer’s words and opened the truck’s door, resigned to the fact that I was going nowhere, fast.

Immediately, I sprang into action and sent an email to River Family Wellness co-owners Dawn Hyde and Jason Barnes, informing them that I was unable to attend, while furiously searching for information regarding the art opening at the reception, titled “Ask The Old Trees” and hosted by sculptor Naomi Teppich, photographer Gail Tuchman and painter Marjorie Morrow. All were scheduled to be on hand for the reception and expecting me, or at the very least, my dog.

“Help me if you can, I’m feeling down,” I wrote to all three, “and I do appreciate you being ‘round. Help me get my feet back on the ground,” I wrote. “Won’t you please, please help me?”

Explaining my absence while requesting their assistance, I stayed home, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. Marjorie was the first to respond: “Hi Jonathan,” her email said. “Sorry too, that you couldn’t make it, but it’s totally understandable. We were delighted to see so many people there at the opening on such a frigid night!”

Naomi also answered and had this to say: “The ‘soft opening’ was a grand event,” she wrote, “with the three synchronized artists all displaying their relationships to local trees and bark [expressed through] Marjorie’s series of abstract, [executed in] a vibrant array of color combinations.” Teppich went on to describe Tuchman’s photographs, many of them mounted on metal plates, as, “beautiful crisp, focused close-ups of leaves with backgrounds of water and bark,” and Naomi’s own wall-mounted three-dimensional bark and fungi ceramic sculptures. Gail also sent me a note expressing sorrow that neither I nor the Wonder Dog were in attendance, along with a few images of her metallic prints that have titles like “Creek Foam with Leaves” and “Chorus of Red, Yellow and Green,” all of which can be viewed at River Family Wellness through March 20.

Not to be outdone, yoga instructor and co-owner Dawn Hyde also responded to my plea for help. “Sorry to have missed you last night,” she wrote, “and sure, let’s reschedule for that interview. Would you like to come by tomorrow?” Grateful for the helping hands, I sighed and slipped a well-worn CD out of its case. “And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,” those four lads from Liverpool sang, soothing my jangled nerves. “My independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then I feel so insecure,” they wailed, “I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.”

I’m so grateful to my friends and neighbors who have stepped up to assist, and I hope you all know how much, because it’s hard for me to ask. “Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody.” Thanks to each and every one of you, my feet are back on the ground. Now I have to figure out how to get them into a vehicle. Help!


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