Warm Reflections on a Colder Place
edited: Sunday, February 24, 2002
By Kyle W Smith
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002
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I wrote this for the local paper in the town where I grew up while in the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On this dark night in early October, I sit here in front of my console standing my watch. Just minutes ago I witnessed the launch of cruise missiles, lighting up the night sky on their way to deliver a blow to the forces of terror in Afghanistan. But as I sit here on this warm evening in the Middle East, my mind takes me back to another time and place. One thatís colder yet fills my heart with warmth. Itís a place I love and the place I grew up. Itís where Iíd like to grow old as well. Itís a quiet little town in the mountains of southern California called Big Bear.
That quit little town never felt quite as far away as it does tonight while I sit watch in Sonar Control on the USS Princeton, steaming through a dark sea on the exact other side of the world. But tonight the memories it blessed me with, and the life lessons it taught me are still fresh in my heart like the first fallen snow each year that puts a perfect white glaze on the on the mountains, and makes the partially frozen lake look a little more blue.
Here where I am now, in a part of the world where good things are few and far between, my heart recoils of wonderful times and the beauty of Big Bear overwhelms me. From the majestic strength of the dam, to the quiet serenity of Erwin Lake, Big Bear is a place more special then any other I know.
Itís a place where locals can live in peace, where they feel safe and secure to live out the American Dream. For tourists and weekenders itís a tool for escapism where they can put aside the fast-pace and negative energy of the city and free their mind and spirit for a few days.
Big Bear is a town for the young, the old, and everyone in between. I know personally it was a nice place to grow up and go to school where I was safe and where many of those faces I saw on my first day of kindergarten were the same ones I saw as I graduated high school. It is also a great place to raise a family. You know your children will be safe and offered a great education from a fine school system. They will also have the opportunity to participate in countless extracurricular activities throughout the community. Itís a great place to retire as well. I canít think of a better place to spend the relaxed years of my life in reflection and peace. Big Bear truly is a place for everyone.
The one thing however I feel is the backbone of this fine city, and what makes it so special is the people who call it home. Itís comforting to know your neighbor will be there for you in a time of need, or just there for a friendly chat as you pass while walking your dog or shoveling your driveway. Itís also nice to be able to go down to the market and see a familiar face or an old friend. You can go to your favorite restaurant in the morning for breakfast where your personal coffee cup hangs on the wall and the waitress knows your name. I believe if only the rest of the world had the friendly, peaceful, and loving atmosphere of Big Bear we might not be plagued by our current world problems.
A small town is something unique and wonderful, especially this one. Next time you take a drive out to the Village, or even just down to that special restaurant take a look around and embrace everything you see: The tall tree covered mountains with their ski areas which bring in the income that allows many to live their life, and also gives us a fun pastime. Take a look at the lake, with itís boats speeding this way and that, and itís fisherman trying to catch that big one on one of Big Bearís countless beautiful days. But most of all look at yourself and realize or remember that you are very luck and very special because you live in and are a key ingredient to making Big Bear in my opinion, the greatest place on earth.
It is my great pleasure to be out here defending your freedom and right to love, live, work, or just plain have fun in a beautiful, quiet little town called Big Bear.
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|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
|This is a warm, touching piece, Kyle.
|Reviewed by Mark Carroll
|More poetic than poetry. Never have I wanted to visit, until now.
Did it get printed in your hometown paper?
|Reviewed by Janet Caldwell