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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The barefoot toe-wriggling season ... by Joe Wilkins


The barefoot toe-wriggling season ...

Ecclesiastes got it right. There is indeed a season for all things and, although he didn’t say so exactly, that includes a season for kicking off your shoes and wriggling your barefoot toes in the wet sand while the last inch of incoming wave runs over your feet. That season is here.
My own plans kick off this week. We’ll drive to the southern tip of New Jersey for the first summer concert of the Cape May Brass Band.  My friend Bob Fineberg, a distinguished attorney and even more distinguished musician, has promised “an old-fashioned concert in the park” replete with “marches, a couple of show tunes, some traditional English brass band songs, and some good solo works”. At Bob’s suggestion, we’ll bring our own folding chairs, but before all that I intend to walk to the beach, leave shoes and socks on the soft sand, and re-introduce my toes to the ocean.
And that’s just for openers. Now that the kids are out of school, it’s open season on visits with the grandchildren. The June graduations are over, but the July birthdays are coming fast. There’s a string of them starting July 2nd, which will require barbeques, iced tea on breezy porches, and cakes with candles of varying count. There’s at least one medium sized family re-union, and a sprinkle of “evenings of opportunity” when vacationing friends and cousins come down to the shore hoping to get together for Jersey tomatoes and corn on the cob, with lobsters here or clams there. 
These are the small stitches in the fabric of our lives, and they matter. You have to come up for air now and then, to mix a metaphor, and these are the months to do it. What better way to start than with a brass band?
Meanwhile, of course, events march on, brass band or no. The Supreme Court is announcing big-scale decisions on voting rights, gay rights and affirmative action before heading to whatever beaches they wriggle their toes on, and Congress is doing its thing, although it may have to wriggle its ears in the sand rather than its toes, given where its members have stuck their heads. If ever a bunch need a brass band and a bracing John Phillip Sousa march to get going, Congress is it.
Hillary’s brass band, on the other hand, has already stepped out, trumpets and bugles and drums going full steam. Unfortunately they started without the drum major. She’s still off-stage, raising money and politely trying not to step on President Obama’s parade for a few more months. You can get an idea of what’s going on when you realize Hillary’s mere plans drive the President’s actions, such as they are, clear off the front page. Her parade may look a bit ragged starting out, but it’s a 3 year march. Eventually she’ll be rested up and will get them marching in step. Meanwhile the Republicans are practicing close-order drill and measuring their neighing   mavericks for muzzles and hobbles. Neither side has called me yet for advice, so I expect to find time this summer for camping, golf, sailing, grandchildren and book-writing.
On other fronts, look for the Edward Snowden flap to simmer all summer. Like his predecessor Julian Assange, the intelligence agencies want his scalp but have lost their tomahawk, so to speak. China, Russia, Ecuador and maybe Cuba are having fun playing “keep-away” from the U.S., and that game has no predefined time limits. New players can join anytime. All you need is an airport that can be reached without flying through US airspace.
Barefoot or not, Governor Christie will be walking our beaches all summer, and doesn’t mind a bit that most of the people on them will be from Democratic Pennsylvania and Democratic New York, both of whose electoral votes he’d love to bundle with New Jersey’s for the Presidential race, if only he can wrest the Republican nomination from the Tea Partiers who hate his guts. The only two things sure for Governor Christie this year are that he’ll be re-elected Governor, and there will be more hurricanes coming ashore on our coast. But that’s weeks away.
Meanwhile, welcome to summer. Now kick off those shoes!

Copyright Joseph T. Wilkins.  

Joe Wilkins is a semi-retired lawyer and former municipal judge who lives in Smithville, NJ. He is the author of  "The Speaker Who Locked up the House", an acclaimed historical novel about Congress set in the Washington of 1890, and "The Skin Game and other Atlantic City capers", a richly comic account of the stick-up of an illegal card game as Atlantic City casino age began. To buy Joe’s books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at, visit his website at or catch his author's page on Facebook.

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