Written by Carolyn Kulik, published in The Charlotte News.

There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.

 L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

At present
The Senior Center building remains closed, but activities, art exhibits, presentations and courses are continuing—and expanding. Activities held outdoors, namely Kayaking for Women and Birding Expeditions, have started up again and participants have enjoyed some great weather.

But the Boating on Lake Champlain with Al and Nancy Martin—the very popular and beloved trips of summer—cannot take place this year due to Covid concerns. For 18 years, the Martins have probably taken around 1,500 very happy guests from the Senior Center out on their trawler. Al’s sense of fun (complete with wigs) is only matched by his extensive and entertaining knowledge of the lake and local history. Someone said, “It’s like a party boa— but without the alcohol.”

Aside from the joy of being out on the water and having the wind in your hair, part of the fun was seeing the birds and wildlife, especially during the trips to Otter Creek. Then, there were the stories of Commodore Thomas MacDonough’s fleet being built in the Vergennes Basin in 1812, and how subsequent naval actions led by him concluded in the Battle of Plattsburgh, which halted British advances in the Mid-Atlantic states during that long-ago war. Lake Champlain was a very different place then; imagine tall masts and canon fire.

Back on the Nancy Ann at the Champlain Palisades—in a modern variation of the letter in the bottle— the idea was to leave a piece of paper with the cell phone number of a fellow passenger, asking the finder to call. (Alas, there are no records of calls ever being made.)

Being a daylong excursion, the mid-day break was a leisurely dinner at a big family-style table at the Red Mill at Basin Harbor. By then, the group was feeling like family. While Al kept spirits high, Nancy’s relaxed graciousness and welcoming manner helped transform strangers into new friends.

In fact, Al reports that many times, upon returning to Point Bay Marina, the passengers didn’t want to go ashore because they were having such a good time. Great memories for those lucky enough to make a trip or two; meanwhile, we can all dream of next year. Thank you, Al and Nancy!

And that leaves open the story of Shirley’s Cove. Does anyone know about that?

The next Kayaking Trip for Women is 8/28. Please register your interest with Susan. Locations vary and are weather dependent, of course. September dates are 9/11, 9/18 and 9/25.

Birding Expeditions with Hank Kaestner will continue into the fall. Please note that registration for that season begins after the Fall Schedule is posted on the website on 9/1. After that date, please call and leave a voicemail message at (802) 425-6345.

All Wednesday events at 1:00 p.m. are now taking place only as online gatherings. In order to join one of these events, download the Zoom app, and access the link on the Events page. The invitation/link for that week will be posted by the day before the presentation. As well, this link will be supplied in Front Porch Forum in Charlotte and in surrounding towns.

The events for Friday, 8/21, to Middlebury Museum College of Art and the Wednesday, 8/26, Trip to the Morgan Horse Farm have both been cancelled, because the sites are currently closed.

The following online Wednesday event is the first one of the Fall Schedule:

Wednesday, 9/2, at 1:00 p.m. Putting the “Public” Back in Public Higher Education with Tom Streeter. Prof. Streeter will discuss the changing role of universities in society and argue for a return to the concept of higher education as a public good—as something that serves the entire whole of society, rather than solely as a private benefit. Formerly a professor and president of the faculty union at UVM, Tom Streeter now teaches at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

Fall Schedule
Have no fear—it is coming soon and will be posted on this website on 9/1. It will be an insert in the 9/3 issue of this paper and will be mailed to those outside Charlotte and Shelburne that week. The new courses will only begin in the middle of September, which allows plenty of time to register.

One old favorite is coming back—Fall Road Hikes in the Champlain Valley—and they are another chance to get outdoors while it’s still warm. Two intriguing first-time courses are Civil Discourse with Stephen Joyce and Script Writing with Mark Williams, which will help keep the little gray cells active, as Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot would say.

Another exciting new entry is The Basics to Better Balance presentation on Wednesday, 9/9, at 1:00 p.m. This will serve to introduce two online courses, Better Balance I & II, which are aimed at improving balance and reducing fall risk. The introductory one begins Tuesday, 9/15, and both are generously offered by the doctors of physical therapy from DeePT as a community service.

Art Exhibits
The Senior Center’s monthly art exhibits have resumed, and visitors are very welcome. Anyone interested in coming in to see an art exhibit in the Great Room is asked to schedule an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. The days for viewing are Tuesday and Thursday between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Please leave a message anytime at (802) 425-6345—include your name and phone number for a confirmation of your appointment.

The current show is the August & September Art Exhibit: Bill Stirewalt—Large Format Photography. During his long medical career, Dr. Stirewalt seriously pursued his hobby of fine art photography. Although most pieces depict the natural world, the subject matter is very varied, and spans a time frame from the 1960s to the present. Two stunning pictures are of the moss-covered vines in the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. But the most spectacular photograph is the 6-foot-long Lake Champlain Panorama with peak autumn color and purple mountains. It is really breathtaking.

Be careful. Stay well. We are all in this together.

The Senior Center’s mission is to serve those 50 and up; if a course is not full, younger ages may also enroll. Residents from other communities are always welcome. There are no membership fees. Feel free to leave a message anytime at (802) 425-6345; voicemail is checked daily.

Charlotte Senior Center
(802) 425-6345