Smelled the roses, can we move along now?

Ipswich is a hot town, fast-paced, mile-a-minute, full of razzmatazz, on the go, a rat race. No, wait. That’s the LSD talking.

I tend to be in a hurry. People are forever saying I eat too fast. I always choose “Fastest Route,” never that “Scenic Route” nonsense. I frequently offend people by not giving them time finish what they were — So Ipswich was probably the last place on earth I should have moved. I looked the world over and chose Ipswich. After a lifetime in big cities, I thought Ipswich would be quaint and quiet and charming.

Which it is. But I didn’t account for one other, uh, quality: slow.

Sure, there’s the occasional speeder threatening the lives of our children and grandchildren by tearing around the curves on Outer Linebrook Road, as if Hood Pond won’t be there by the time their tires screech onto the waterfront pavement.

But speed is not generally our problem in Ipswich. Slow is our problem. Well, slow is my problem. You might not mind slow. Maybe you chose Ipswich for the slow. Maybe you don’t care a bit about quaint or quiet or charming, you just wanted slow. Okay, hope you’re happy.

 Of course, slow comes in a variety of flavors. There are certain times of the year when Ipswich offers extra-slow. The school year, for example. If you get behind a school bus on Linebrook Road, you’re going to experience slow. Also stop. And more than once. If you’re heading from my house toward the center of town on a school-day morning, it’s brake, slow, stop, wait, start, slow, repeat. The calf muscle on your right leg had better be in good shape, or you’ll be limping into Zumi’s.

Depending on the neighborhood, the United States Postal Service can complicate things further. If a mail truck pulls out in front of the school bus, your ETA auto-advances. In certain parts of town, the mail truck doesn’t have enough room to pull off the road to deliver the mail. From my impatient perspective, I fantasize about a school bus driver giving those schoolchildren the rollercoaster-type thrill of the bus roaring around the parked mail truck just in time to dodge an oncoming Dodge — children cheering and screaming for more. This is why they don’t let me on the School Committee.

And what day of the week is it? What time of day? Is it that magical hour on a garbage pickup route and you happened to arrive at the perfect moment? If you get a garbage truck in front of a mail truck in front of that school bus you’re following, it may be time to check in with your priest and begin figuring out what kind of sins God is punishing you for.

During farm season — and as a city boy, I have no idea what this means — I guess it’s when things are being planted or watered or fertilized or harvested? — you’re also likely to find a tractor on the road. In my neck of the woods, it’s not unheard of for one of those huge Marini Farm vehicles to pull out in front of the garbage truck that already pulled out in front of the mail truck that already pulled out in front of the school bus. I love Marini Farm; I’m a faithful customer. So it’s with all the love in my heart that I mention this: The Marini tractor, topping out at 17 mph, is gonna make your kid late for school.

It’s not all bad, though. Sitting in your Honda behind the school bus behind the mail truck behind the garbage truck behind the Marini tractor, you’ll have time to do your nails, or sort the junk in your wallet, or address this year’s Christmas cards. The reality is, you may have even more time on your hands, because — Darn, the Marini tractor is totally stopped up there.

Wild turkeys.


Hope you used the bathroom before you left home.

Doug Brendel lives an unhurried life on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts, only because he has no choice. Follow his real-life exploits at

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