The Start of the Parade

In the distance I hear the band warming up – not a single note piercing the air sounds right. Each is singular, isolated, and the sound of them issuing from so many instruments almost hurts the ear. It is not melodious or rich. It sounds a mess.

People young and old run and walk around me, depending on their ability. The youngest citizens are aided by the hands of parents who steady their wobbly steps. The elderly are aided by their children, their children’s children, or a kind neighbor. No one is alone.

Excitement is high. I can see the shopkeepers giving out red, white, and blue buttons, pinwheels, and balloons on sticks to anyone who wants them. Somehow, today isn’t about profit or loss. Those cares will wait until tomorrow. Competition forgotten, today they smile together and serve.

The entire of Main Street is lined with flags – 48 white stars, seven red stripes, and six white. My own native flag boasts the same colors but in a much different configuration. I never saw it displayed so much when my home was there. Of course, as countries go, mine is old and gray while this one is but a newborn. In the latter years, one doesn’t celebrate birthdays with quite as much vigor as a youngster. One hundred and fifty years old today, I’m reminded.

This little town of Portsong is like any other in the country. It boasts nothing outside its borders that make it unique. It is known for nothing, remembered by few, and can’t seem to grow despite the mayor’s efforts. Yet there is something special here. While I cannot put my finger on it or label it properly, there is something that made this old Brit stay and set up shop.

I believe the allure is in the small details.  For instance, I have been asked to join the festivities no less than seventeen times since I came and sat on this bench. Five of those offers came from people I do not know and four more came from people who saw me at a distance and went far out of their way to make their inquiry. I have been here since just after sunrise and it is now nearly eleven o’clock. In that time, I have counted forty-three people of various ages who have passed me. Forty-two of them shared a smile and kind word with me. The only one who did not was little Esther Parsons and being two, she was in the middle of a fit about her bonnet, I believe.

In most places I have been, an old man on a bench can blend in… be anonymous… simply fade away into background. Not here. In this place this old man has been knitted into the fabric of the community so tightly that I believe I would be missed if I left. Yes, I believe there would be a hole in the quilt if I or anyone else took flight. And that is the loveliness of Portsong. Does it exist in other small towns? I am certain to some degree. It is certainly here to stay. As am I.


The parade is about to start. As I leave my seat aided by the hand of a beautiful child with golden ringlets, I hear the marching band leading the way. No longer are they clanging individuals striking off on their own notes. Now they play as one group. Their sound gets closer. It is beautiful, melodious, and wonderful. Like this place, it is a collection of people working together in harmony.

I truly love it here.


-Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle

July 4, 1926

Gas is Good

I read an interesting article about Spanish royalty this week and it got me thinking about monarchies.  The article specifically mentioned the king’s 8 year-old granddaughter who was soon to become a princess. She won’t rule yet, but there have been many examples in history of children leading countries. Have you ever thought about that? I think of my kids when they were eight and would be very concerned about the consequences of them having absolute power. Worse yet, what would I have done as a reigning monarch at seven? (Or now, for that matter)

It happened all over the globe! Seriously, did any of their subjects think these good ideas?

Henry III assumed the throne of England when he was nine.

Puyi became Emperor of China when he was two years-old.

Ivan VI became the Czar of Russia at two months old

Alfonso VIII was named King of Spain the day he was born.

2 Kings 22-23 tells us of Josiah, who became King of Judah at eight.

According to Dennis the Constitutional Peasant, subjects lived in a dictatorship – “a self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class…” Before he was repressed, Dennis was reminding us that peasants had no choice in who became their king. Sounds vaguely familiar, but I’m not political, so I will move on.


I know all of these children had advisors, but do you wonder what laws were transcribed inside the inner walls of the castle? Some might have been enacted, most were probably transcribed, agreed upon in the ruler’s presence, then discarded knowing the little king wouldn’t remember after his nap.

Edicts like these come to mind:

“The mere mention of peas, green beans, or brussel sprouts will be cause for eight lashes!”

“If I call for a toy and it is not handed to me in less than 10 seconds, the entire court shall have to walk like frogs for a day!”

“Bed time is when I fall asleep on my throne and not a moment before!”

For most child rulers, there would have been a whole legal treatise for passing gas. In fact, it would have been so overwhelming and encompassing that given the proper historical context, it could have replaced the Magna Carta as the defining law of the modern world.

We have rules in our house. You probably think that since I have all girls, our parental charter hasn’t needed gas addendums. You would be wrong. In fact, the doctor where my youngest is being treated completely shot any control over our gas emission laws with one simple, medical edict, “Gas is good.” In his opinion, it is more advantageous for the body to expel gas than hold it in. In the immortal words of Dr. Shrek, “Better out than in, I always say.”Shrek_Hollywood

Huh? So now, any hope we have of spending time in the absence of foul clouds is ruined. Our patient is the queen right now subscribes to the good doctor’s manner of treatment…when it suits her. We peasants bow down, joining in when nature calls under threat of law. All of us except mother, who is medically unhealthy, but socially proper. Even the doctor’s advice can’t woo her to the dark side.

In the absence of a real point to this post, I leave you with two thoughts:

1. Gas is good.

2. “Strange women, lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for government!”