• Donna Brown

Weather, technology, truths and more


Donna Brown

This has been a very strange autumn. Usually we have had a frost by now, but this year we still have tomato plants baring beautiful red tomatoes. Eleanor LoSasso reported seeing a Monarch butterfly on November 3 when they are usually half way to Mexico by then. The same day she had a confrontation with a black widow spider who set up house in her greenhouse.


Two weeks ago I saw a lilac bush on Grape Street ablaze in blossoms. Last week I did a double take when I saw a lawn on Bellevue Avenue covered in purple crocuses. What is going on? Maybe I should have left my pink flamingos out a little longer.


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Election day was on November 8th and for the first time in history we had lunar eclipse on an election day. If you woke up early you should have been able to observe the November beaver moon, also called the snow or frost moon, trending toward a total eclipse as it sets.

The name beaver moon originated because it was once the time to trap beavers to assure furs for the winter before the swamps froze and beavers disappeared.


If you were a child in the 1960s, you probably watched My Favorite Martian, looked forward to one day having a flying car like the Jetsons, had a toy robot or ray gun and never missed an episode of “Star Trek.” If so, check out Cape Canaveral’s next launch, Artemis I. It is an unmanned craft that will circle the moon and return. It was scheduled to launch on November 14 and is a trial run for Artemis II planned for 2024. Artemis II was to be the first space craft to travel beyond low earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.


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I am sick of technology, though I am using a tablet to write this, I watch quilting tutorials on YouTube, I constantly check email, send texts to family members and pay all my bills on line, I do believe our technology makes us less human and we intuitively know that we may be misunderstood. That is why we constantly add emojis to make sure the reader of our words understands our intent.


I yearn to talk to people in person. I want to read facial expressions, listen for inflections in their voice, watch for signs of body language. Sure we can use Duo and Zoom but it is not the same. I worry about young people who do most of their communication on their phones. Do they even understand intonations and know how to read facial expressions? Students wearing masks for two years didn’t help this problem.


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Truth, does anyone ever want to hear the truth? Obviously, every husband knows not to answer yes when his wife asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” Yet, so often spouses, lovers, siblings and friends plead for truth, but I have decided people only want to hear their truth, not yours.


I sadly offended a very close friend of 50 years by telling the truth when asked. She was my best friend in high school. We whispered secrets and shared dreams. She moved away from Hammonton many years ago, and we communicate by emails and texts, which have many disadvantages. Words can be misconstrued, intonation and nuances are nonexistent, emotions can run high and interpretation can be completely mangled and misunderstood. Again, maybe Duo or Zoom would work, but what I’d really like to do is hold my friend’s hands, lock eyes and have an old-fashioned conversation.


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Remember birthday parties when we were kids? Usually they were held on a Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the child’s home. Decorations included streamers and non-helium balloons.

Kids got sugared up from candy out of crepe paper cups, Hawaiian Punch and homemade cake. We’d wear fluffy dresses or button-down shirts and dress pants, don paper hats and be on our best behavior. We’d play pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. Inexpensive gifts were purchased at Miller’s Department Store or the Five and Ten, often paper dolls or cap guns.


Last week at a child’s outdoor birthday party, where there were multiple games and activities, including a woods and club house to play in, many children spent three glorious hours running in circles, shouting, laughing and getting dirty. Yet, several boys sat silently playing games on their phones. I wanted to explain to them that life was passing them by. Friendships could be formed, physical skills honed and nature appreciated. I also considered giving some, “little old lady advice” to their mothers, but they too were glued to their phones. So, I happily joined the kids in the woods.


Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to wescoat@comcast.net.