Letters to The Boston Globe Magazine

February 20, 2011

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Enough with the snow already

I enjoyed Anita Diamant’s piece on surviving New England winters (“Cold Comfort,” January 30) and wanted to share my own way of coping: I pretend it begins January 1 and ends the last day of February. It helps to know that there is now only one week of winter left.

Joyce I. Keay / East Falmouth

Diamant writes that “it’s going to be weeks – and weeks – before the first robin lands.” Don’t be silly. There were more than 50 robins in a tree on our street just a few days ago. Then when the berries were gone, they moved on.

Bill English / Falmouth

I moved to the area from Virginia 10 years ago, and I have come to love this part of the country. Winter here is truly magical if we just allow ourselves to experience it. In the middle of the cold, gray times, we find warmth in places that spring, summer, and autumn tend to obscure. In my car in the snow this morning, I was heartened to see that the drive-through line at Dunkin’ Donuts was as long as it usually is. There is something wonderful about shoveling out my driveway with my neighbors and then walking over to someone else’s house to do the shoveling there. The beauty of the white snow on the trees, highlighting the straight lines shadowed against a sunset-streaked sky, is often enough to quite literally take my breath away. Last night, I saw three backhoes in a Target parking lot in front of the mounds of snow they had cleared in the last storm. There they stood, calm and silent, waiting for the next storm to break, ready to go about the prosaic business of snow removal yet again. That is New England. Stoic, prepared, and git-’er-done Pilgrim no-nonsense. Many thanks to Diamant for reminding us all again how lucky we are to live here.

Nicole McLernon / Attleboro

As someone born and raised in Dorchester, I am no stranger to New England winters, and I agree we must look on the bright side. Unfortunately, many of us can barely afford to buy a new home, heat it, and keep the hot cocoa flowing. The prices of heat and other winter necessities make this place an even more expensive and undesirable state. Things like flat tires, frozen locks, cold medicine, and missed days of work leave one wondering why we put up with our overpriced towns. Thanks for the attempt to cheer us up, and hear, hear to all the brave individuals who don’t head to warmer climates.

Dawn Fraser / Milton
But seriously, stop

Hurrah to Charles P. Pierce for his piece on the fatuous navel-gazing that local television stations make us suffer through every snowstorm (Pierced, January 23). Yes, we know it’s snowing. But unless newscasters can tell me what is going on in my own town, they should just report the weather at the top and bottom of the hour. After 15 minutes, they’re just repeating the cycle.

Sherman Everhart / Middleborough
Other opinions permitted

Edward Glaeser is probably right when he blames local building regulations for our state’s low rate of population growth (Perspective, January 23). Last year, I visited friends in Naples, Florida, and then a month later, other friends in Bradenton, Florida. It was there that I ranted, “There’s more architectural variety on East Main Street in Medfield than there is in the entire state of Florida!” My colleagues and I on the Medfield Historical Commission are proud of the work we do. We recognize and respect the rights of property owners and developers. Some old buildings cannot and should not be saved, but we use local regulations to ensure that historic structures are not needlessly bulldozed in the name of progress. Obviously there are many trade-offs when it comes to local building regulations. (Let’s not get into Wall Street regulations.) But we all, including Glaeser, should be careful what we wish for.

David F. Temple / Medfield

As a home builder for 47 years, I found this article right on target. Unfortunately, there will be no change in Massachusetts as long as the Legislature allows communities to write their own regulations with no regard to the rest of the state and region. Since the economy started crashing, changes in regulations have marched on, adding some $20,000 to $30,000 to the cost of a new home. But what else would all the planners and regulators do but create new regulations? There is almost no development taking place.

Benjamin C. Osgood / North Andover

Not mentioning Massachusetts’s high tax rate when discussing the state’s slow population growth was a stunning oversight. Glaeser should have at least brought the subject up and dismissed it. Otherwise, it’s like asking why so many people move to Florida and ignoring the sunshine – and its lack of an income tax.

James C. McGuire / Midlothian, Virginia

The issues Glaeser describes do pose a long-term threat to the economic vitality of Massachusetts, particularly in a global economy. And, yet, I’m not sure how many Bay Staters care enough to want to do anything about it. The state’s citizens and leadership are dominated by a mindset that, for the most part, likes the status quo. Ultimately, only one thing can be guaranteed by it: declining congressional representation and loss of people to other states once the economy improves.

Frederick Goodrich / Newton
Breadwinners (and Losers)

While reading Michael Fitzgerald’s article on Panera Bread’s executive chairman (“Is Ron Shaich Out to Lunch?” January 30), I was inspired by all the good Shaich is doing and hoping to do in the future with Panera. He seems to understand the challenges of making a business work and taking a chance. However, at one point, the article mentions the company’s plans to open 12 new locations in Massachusetts this year. It’s too bad Shaich doesn’t seem to realize that one restaurant, in particular, the one proposed for Lexington Center, will impact many of the area’s small local sandwich shops. One would think that someone who cares about people who cannot afford to eat would think about the small-business owners who rely on their restaurants to feed their families.

Michelle Roselli / Woburn
Let them eat cake

A.L.’s sister-in-law may not have been demonstrating insensitivity in offering A.L. a piece of cake in front of her husband and A.L’.s brother (Miss Conduct, January 30). Post-surgery, many bariatric patients don’t experience food cravings, so seeing someone else eat a piece of cake may simply not have any emotional or physiological implications. And as is true for any person who chooses to abstain from a substance that is not good for him or her, successful mastery often includes being comfortable in the presence of people who continue to use it. Miss Conduct is on target when she recommends that A.L. speak with her brother about his reaction to the incident. But I also encourage both to examine their judgments about weight-loss surgery. As a clinical social worker who treats post-surgery bariatric patients (and who herself underwent the procedure several years ago), I know that one of the biggest barriers patients have to confront is others’ moralistic attitudes about obesity and the decision to have surgery.

Mary Urban-Keary / Brookline
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