When you’re living somewhere you enjoy, it’s still good to get those small reminders of what it is that you like about the place. That’s true of resorts in particular, where something different is always bound to happen or the structure of the town itself offers evidence that you’re not, to borrow a phrase, in Kansas anymore.
As a friend of mine once said about his decision to move here, “When I can see a Ferris wheel from my bedroom window, I know I’m in the right town.”
When I lived in Aspen, Colo., for instance, I knew I was in the right place – for that phase of life anyway – when I was working in the early morning at what then was a muckraking paper called the “Aspen Daily News.”
I made it a practice to start well before sunrise because it was quiet and I could work without interruption, thus freeing up the balance of my day for more worthwhile pursuits, such as lingering in the Jerome Hotel bar “gathering information.”
But on this particular morning, as I typed away in our basement office beneath a pizza shop, I heard singing, exceptionally good singing, outside at ground level.
I went up the steps and peered out in the pre-dawn light to see a man bended down on one knee in the vacant Hyman Avenue Mall and belting – and I mean belting – “Nobody loves you when you’re down and out.”
As it turned out, the singer was a former cast member of “The Fantastiks” who was, in fact, down and out, or at least I assumed that after his arrest later for attempting to shoplift a six-pack.
Still, on that one day, it was a, “Hello, you’re here” moment.
In case you’re wondering what set all this off, this is the same feeling I got Monday night, as I stood on my porch and noticed the sound of music in the distance. Just to be clear, I can hear music from all directions in the summer, but this wasn’t your usual stuff, this was bagpipe music, which is pretty rare by any standard. But even rarer, this was good bagpipe music, the kind that makes you want to grab a big club and join the rebellion.
I wanted to know where it originated, so I got in the truck and headed east to discover Ocean City firefighter Steve Twilley practicing with his bagpipes outside on the rear parking pad of the 15th Street station.
Realizing that no ceremony was taking place or that we were not being summonsed to take up arms against the British, I left him to his practicing and returned home. All I can say is that when you can hear bagpipes in the evening and you’re not in Scotland or Ireland, it’s the same as being able to see a Ferris wheel from your bedroom window or hearing a Broadway singer belt out a tune. You’re in the right place.