Sometimes it’s just a word that strikes a chord. In a discussion of town meetings past (so what else is new), a voter recalled a selectman explaining the situation with the sand truck. He said, “We can probably get another year out of it but it’s tender.”

Tender. A word used to mean, go easy. We can limp along but only with special care. Applies to machinery and to people.

Punky. That’s another old word used to mean . . . tender. Here’s an old story — often told — and much loved.

Albert Fogg showed up at town meeting much to the surprise of Hebron town folk. Albert lived on the other side of the lake, had no near neighbors, didn’t drive, and even if he did the road was bad and some muddy. “How’d you get here?” they asked Albert.

“I come across the ice,” he said.

“Albert,” the town folk said, shocked, “that ice is awful thin and punky. How’d you dare walk across?”

“Well,” he said, “I made myself as light as I could and walked right along fast.”

At this stage of my life, where a few of my relationships are going or have gone south (is it me or them? pretty sure it’s them, but that’s just me), I make a conscious effort to make myself as light as I can and walk right along fast.

Another lesson learned. It’s a cockah! (Also spelled corker, if you’re not from around here.) On our glorious trip to St. Lucia, I came around a corner at the bed and breakfast to spot my little British hostess reaming out the gardener, a tall, handsome, strong man about four times her size. She was not pleased with the gardening he and his crew had done. And she said so. Several times. She expected that he and his crew would do better or else!

He stood straight and stoic. Then smiled a beautiful big smile and said, “Madame, you always bring out the best in me.”

The perfect response.

One more lesson learned. Kinda embarrassing but what the hey. While in St. Lucia, we ended up in the capital city, Castries — busy place. Didn’t mean to go there, but ended up there. Another story. Anyway, we were walking around the local market. The non-touristy part. A man comes up behind John and me like we’re his best friends. He’d seen us in Marigot Bay where we were staying, so . . . there’s that. He wanted to show us a place where the locals ate. Get us some good local food.


Three tables in a dark little restaurant on a dark little side street. Order at the counter. He will order for us to get the best food at the best price. Even though, it’s 11 AM. A little early for lunch, we say. Oh no, he says, it’s the best time for lunch. We give him $20 to get a bargain. He gets us juices but needs another $20, we’re not sure why. Some negotiating going on at the counter.

Then there’s the tennis ball. Could we donate a few bucks for the children of Marigot Bay?

OK. The tennis ball goes back in his pocket.

He brings to the table a plate of delicious looking chicken and rice and a bowl of delicious looking lamb bones and dumplings.

John and I share the soup. John goes for the chicken and rice. Oh, no, says our host, “That’s my lunch.” And he tucked in.

In the end, John and I enjoyed that soup. We left $60 lighter. Or maybe it was only $50. Either way, it was the most expensive bowl of soup I’ve ever slurped.

I’m pretty sure that fellow tricked us. Be he was so pleasant while doing so, we didn’t really mind. Much.

‘Nother lesson learned.

That’s John Rule in the photo. Doesn’t he look happy? He is. That’s not me in the hammock. I’m the one taking the photo.