Changing the way we age

On Sept. 21, Anne Murray, Age Well coordinator of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, gave a slide show and discussion in the community room at Unity Gardens in Windham, on the Tandberg Trail. The subject was “Changing the Way We Live.”

In her presentation, she used photos to illustrate statements. One of these statements was: “Over the past 100 years we have added an additional 30 years to our life expectancy. The challenge now is to ensure our quality of life during these years.” Illustrating that was a picture of an elderly man, slightly bent over, walking along a beach with his cane for support, and another picture of a white-haired, handsome robust man, in swim trunks, running actively through water at the edge of the beach.

Another statement was a familiar one: “There are only two proven ways for humans to look and feel younger, and reduce the risks of dying or age-associated diseases: engaging in regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.”

In remaining intellectually active as we age, are these suggestions: “Challenging the mind, to stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s,” and keeping active with seminars and workshops, games, debate clubs and Book of the Month readings, computers, art classes, lectures, outings to concerts, dinners and volunteering to help others.

One man in the audience said that he regularly rides his exercise bike, and also drives people to doctors’ appointments or errands. Good for him!

Refreshments of Triscuits, cheese slices, grapes, and punch were served after the lecture. It was an enjoyable meeting. On Sept. 28, from 1-2 p.m. at the same location, a lecture is to be given by Darlene Field of the Maine Alzheimer’s Association. Her subject will be “Maintain Your Brain.” The lectures are free, and worthwhile, too.

A review of the 1846 book, “The Floral Gift”

A dainty hardcover book, 2 3/4 inches by 4 1/2 inches “The Floral Gift, from Nature and the Heart,” was fascinating reading. In 126 pages are that many poems, each page describing a flower, in verse, with the flower’s title and a one-line definition.

On Page 8, I found “Apple Blossom,” the flower of a well-known fruit, by Mrs. Seba Smith. Several other well-known authors included were Byron, Shakespeare, Tuckerman and Longfellow.

But Seba Smith seemed familiar to me, and I checked out that name in Portland writer Herbert Jones’s “Maine Memories,” 1940, and in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Jones wrote, “The name, Seba Smith, I imagine, means little to us today, but during the stirring time of Andrew Jackson’s presidency it was a name to conjure with. Smith started his career in Portland when he founded Maine’s first daily newspaper, The Courier, in 1829, and later moved to New York, where he wrote the ‘Jack Dowling letters which every important newspaper carried and which literally convulsed the entire country. The down east character of ‘Jack Downing’ with his terse, shrewd, satirical comments on public affairs in characteristic down east dialect, was something quite new in newspaper circles and made a tremendous hit.”

The Britannica said he was born in Buckfield, in 1792. A graduate of Bowdoin College, in 1829, he founded the Portland Courier, where Major Jack Downing’s fictional letters first appeared in January 1830.

Another Britannica article, under American Renaissance (1829-70), mentioned Seba Smith as among American humorists who created Down East Yankees, using common-sense arguments to comment upon the political and social scene. Included as one of the most important humorists was Seba Smith, whose chief figure was Major Jack Downing.

Smith’s wife was Elizabeth Oakes Smith. I presume that the “Apple Blossom” was her poem. Presumably they didn’t use maiden names in this 1846 book. I was pleased to find so much about Seba Smith, too.

Make a date with this recipe

This recipe is from “Family Recipes,” the 1981 Maine State Grange Cookbook.

Date cookies

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetab e shortening

2 eggs

Beat these all together and add 1/4 cup boiling water, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Then add, sifted together:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix in 1 cup of cut-up dates. Drop by spoonful on greased sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This recipe is from Dorothy Wright, of Chesterville Grange No. 20.

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