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The Cranky Yankee - reprinted from the South Shore Puzzle Journal, Issue No. 35 - February, 2009
By Stephen Martin

That Love is all there is is all we know of love. -- Emily Dickinson
Love is a temporary insanity, curable by marriage. -- Ambrose Bierce

      The spoon looks so small in the Cranky Yankee's great thick fingers as he stirs the coffee steaming in his favorite thick, off-white ceramic mug.
      He stares out the cabin window at a solid white world trimmed with black lace, naked trees' intricate branches limned by ice. The frozen bay cannot be seen against the snow-fat shore below, or the ivory sky above.
      Cranky, suffering from cabin fever, intones, "I'd rathah step in a beah trap than play anothah game of Cribbage."
      "Amen," says Mrs. Cranky, boot-stomping in from the root cellar, apron full of potatoes and beets. "I'm just about ready to use that boahd for kindlin'."
      "It sure is beautiful out," we offer.
      "That's 'cause yoah in," he says, adding. "but aftah a few weeks of bein' in, it ain't quite so beautiful."
      "Good thing we love each othah, ain't it?" she says, pecking his cheek.
      "Ayup," he allows. "Keeps us from killin' each othah."
      The Crankys have been together a long time, you see. They long ago crawled out of the wreckage of their romantic indulgences and found themselves still together, as close friends. They've both graduated from Eros (physical) love to Philos (mental) love. She has actually taken the next step, into Agape (spiritual) love*. She loves the old curmudgeon unconditionally. She has taken her own needs and desires out of the love equation, and would sacrifice everything for his sake.
      The Crankmeister, on the other hand, although he would certainly lay down his life for her, still has difficulty navigating through the day-to-day "little" things, such as putting down the morning paper to find out how she's feeling, offering to do the dishes or help with the laundry, or even going to the root cellar in the snow.
      But he's learning. He has a great teacher.
      The Buddha saw that we must take the mental and spiritual love and understanding we learn at home, and bring it out into the world to our friends, our neighbors, and ultimately every being on Earth.
      That includes human beings of all colors and creeds.
      We forget that "civil rights" are not just for blacks. It's for all of us. We are all endowed, reads the Declaration of Independence, "with certain unalienable rights." The Declaration also points out that "all men are created equal."
      Martin Luther King lived and died for our civil rights, as well as for the day that a non-Caucasian could become President of the United States.
      Cranky points out that just because a man of color has finally been elected does not mean that the "unalienable" rights of hundreds of thousands of Americans have suddenly been restored.
      "We still have a long way to go," he admits.
* (terms from the ancient Greeks -- editor.)
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