Archive for February, 2013

Spring and such

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

It was in the low 40’s and sunny this morning as I walked into work. The brisk air was becoming a little cold as I finally approached the door of the classroom, but all along my path I could hear the cardinals calling. Around our part of Texas, the signs of spring are found in birds and flowers, not so much in temperatures, although my friends in Fargo, and in the high plateau of the Blue Ridge would remind me that winters in Texas are rather puny by comparison. I started seeing the tree outside the window at the end of the corridor my office is one begin to bloom last week. The blooms are up high, in the sun, unfortunately out of range of the camera in my phone, but they are there. I really wanted to reach one to take in its scent, maybe in a few more weeks as the blooms move down to the lower branches…

The one who holds my heart and I made our drive this past weekend, south towards the gulf to contribute to a worthy group, we found a bit of time to sit in front of a fire, let the dogs calm us down, and make the drive back north the next day. Some people see this as miles, but increasingly I’m seeing it as painting after painting after painting. Its hard in the spring, not to drive by a freshly cultivated field and admire the deep black furrows running across the almost flat fields towards a spray of trees on the horizon and not be impressed. Blue sky, brown trees, black lines, who couldn’t love that! It took me back to my drives across North Dakota, up the interstate where there are no towns, no signs, no trees, just a carefully cultivated landscape of fields punctuated by a line of brightly painted Burlington Northern boxcars. I think it was a painting by David Pence that opened my eyes to the beauty and the power of the prairie landscape some forty years ago. I hope he’s still painting.

Part of our drive home takes us past a wildlife refuge, and the Texas wildflowers were peeking up there. They say its going to be a thin year for LadyBird Johnsons favorites in the Texas landscape. But I’m hoping for a strong showing in blue and red orange and yellow. It takes me out of myself when the landscape appears before me. In that instant the challenges and irritations of life fall back a bit. If the car radio is off, and the road is empty, you can just take it in and enjoy the black earth that changes to red around the corner. The moments when a pecan orchard shows itself as an orderly line of trees, and the broken windmill at the horizon that makes you remember, appreciate those who came before us, who took the chance, faced the challenges, and made a life here. It helps me to see all that. It makes my life challenges a little smaller.

We all face those challenges, sometimes they are memories, sometimes they are active antagonists, sometimes its just systems that don’t work, lines that are too long, people who just don’t know (but believe they do.) We all face challenges. But the land, the bigness of the land, of the sky, and the smallness of a bud, or a bloom, or an acorn can help. Pick up an acorn, you’re actually holding life there in your hand. Its incredible when you think of it. Put a seed in the earth, and you can grow tee-shirts! or pasta! or tofu! (personally i could live without the tofu.) But its pretty amazing.

Life is going to get harder for all of us this week. The people we voted for, the people we pay, didn’t do their job, and they’ve figured out how to blame each other for it. Quite clever actually, but its going to make life more difficult for us all. Thousands of Texans will lose their jobs as the military bases in our state cut back on civilian employees, and when those thousands don’t have a paycheck, tens of thousands who work in the restaurants, stores, and dealerships will begin to pull back, and then the farmers who have been helped through the highs and lows of agricultural cycles will lose their subsidies, and that will begin to trickle into every main street of every little town in Texas, and the rest of the country too. The border will be more porous because homeland security will lay off thousands of “boots on the ground”, border crime might go up, and local responders will have less to work with. Every business will hold their breath, and try to figure out do we grow, or do we pull back? Homebuilders will slow again, and even the energy business will taper down. And all because somehow, at some level, we really don’t think its worth it, to have the military we have, to pay as little as we do for milk, meat and produce in a safe foodsystem, to get on a plane as quickly as we do, and get that plane quickly and safely into the air, to keep the roads working, the air and water clean, our children safe, and our population educated. We just don’t think its worth paying what it actually costs. So we borrowed, and we owe, less than we owed ten years ago, but we still owe, and the funny part is, the people who make the rules, they keep getting a check, getting better insurance than we have, better retirement than most of us have, and they’ll come back and tell us its the other guys fault. Shameful.

Leadership means leading us. To some understand of the complexity of it all, to some understanding of the real costs of it all. War isn’t free. Roads aren’t free. Clean water isn’t free. We all have to get used to paying our way. Yes all of us, from the bottom of the economy to the top, its gonna cost us all more, and somehow those people we elected won’t ever be accountable for this, they’ll pitch simplistic slogans at us, divert us with goofy ideas about guns, with conspiratorial stories, while they draw their check, they’ll tell us that unemployment support is a bad thing, while they’re retirement is guaranteed, they’ll tell us that social security is a bad thing, while they get the best healthcare, they’ll tell us medicaid is a bad thing, its crazy but recent history shows that it works. We keep electing them….

Send them all home.

Make them give back their pay.

Then, take a nice long walk in the country, take in the sounds, the light on the furrows, the flowers on the trees, and let it go.

Figure out what america costs, and send us a bill, we want it done right.

Be as good as you can to each other, find a bit of peace where you can, hug your children, and help your neighbors…we’re all in this together.