Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leaves for Eddie

Dawn followed close on the heels of the clackity boxcars, as if the train’s whistle had wakened the sun as well as my self. I stood on the doorstep in the cool, misty half-light watching a flock of noisy geese make its way to the pond. They are Canada geese winging down from the north. They will rest on our pond and eat their fill before pushing south to Maryland just ahead of the cold November winds. September weather has remained warm and muggy after a summer of heat and humidity. Even now, toward the month’s end, the sun still blazes and the temperature climbs into the 80s. Evenings cool a little but the dampness remains. The trees still wear their summer green, though here and there a few anxious maple leaves have gone scarlet. It is these leaves that lure me out on my bicycle to scour the roadsides for enough to send to Eddie.

Eddie used to live here in my town. We grew up together half wild, playing along the creek banks, the edges of the woods, and the broad meadows between his house and mine. Eddie had a pony and sometimes he rode that to my house. Other times we rode our bikes together down the road we shared. He lived at the southern end and I half way to the north end. Often after a day of play, I would walk Eddie nearly to his end of the street. He’d walk back with me as far as the brook near my house. I’d walk him to the railroad tracks, and he’d walk me back to the halfway mark – a chicken farm owned by an old maid and her widowed sister. Then we’d turn and wave as we made our way to our respective houses. It made our time together last longer.

Once we were in junior high school, Eddie and I went our separate ways, me to the local regional school and he to a private one. We saw each other infrequently until just a few years ago when he made a trip home from Kentucky where he’d finally settled. At first I didn’t recognize him. It had been so many years, after all. But then he laughed and the years fell away, and we began to talk as though it had been only yesterday that we’d walked each other home.

Now we keep in touch by mail, with me keeping Eddie abreast of changes large and small to the town he grew up in. He writes back, nostalgic notes filled with questions about people and places he once knew well. He promises to come home in the spring, and then in the summer, and finally, when the leaves turn color and fall in heaps and the wind from the north develops a bite, he promises that he will come the following spring. I’ve ceased looking for him. I can’t help but think of him though, as I pedal slowly down the road where his grandfather once had a farm. Lettuce for fancy local restaurants grows in the fields now and the old farmhouse stands empty, shipping crates piled on its sagging porch.

The maples that line the street drop orange and scarlet leaves at my feet. I scoop them up, iron them between sheets of waxed paper, and mail them off to Eddie. Perhaps they will lure him home. Perhaps in the spring.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Come September

The pond across the road from my house, dressed in its autumn best.

How did it get to be September already? Wasn’t it just June? Nobody asks that question in February. Nobody says, "Wasn’t it just January?" What is it about summer that speeds up time?

Perhaps it’s because in summer, things grow. They emerge, develop, and expand until the next thing you know, the tree leaves that were the size of squirrels’ ears in late spring have flattened and broadened enough so you can stand comfortably in their collective shade. Corn seeds planted in May produce elephant-eye-high plants by August. In just two July weeks, my zucchini grew from finger-length babies to whale-sized behemoths. Cut grass seems to spring up right behind the lawn mower, and flower stems pole vault their blossoms toward the sun.

In June, time begins to make itself visible, each day stretching out full-length, its fingers reaching toward an ever-earlier dawn while its toes extend toward an ever later dusk. We even say the day stretches out before us, as though we sense the languorous pose July assumes when the temperature and the humidity rise. Let things cool off a bit, let the day curl up on itself and retreat beneath a blanket of gray, and still dawn does not lag nor twilight hurry.

July is mid-summer, all buzz and bloom and business. Mornings are often misty, and as the sun comes up, I like to watch the wraith-like vapor rise from the trees and the riverbed like lazy ghosts who’ve slept on the floor and just realized they must be off and away. Noontimes are just plain hot. The shimmering heat builds over the afternoon into thunderheads that break with a loud crack, spilling rain into the evening hours.

Then, just as in snow-smothered January there comes a day that hints of spring, there comes a storm that breaks summer’s spell sometime in mid-August, when the heat has built to an unbearable sizzle and people and dogs alike pant. After that, the days begin to sit up a little straighter. They belt robes around their waists against the dawn chill and in the evening pull sweaters over their shoulders. So do I. Time becomes restless, hoarding the light to spill on other continents, leaving us, with each flip of the calendar page, in the dark a little longer.

Watching the seasons cycle, I realize that all that has been and all that will be is held in the moment at hand. Like a good book, nature gives us hints of what is to come in the beginning and middle of each seasonal chapter. And though I’ve heard it before, September is a story I want to read over and over.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Soapbox Rally

If we are not involved in our government, in it's elections, its decisions, and its policies, then we are not a free nation. If we are not an informed citizenry we cannot blame the press alone; if the press and our government use us, confuse us, trick us, lie to us, and keep information from us, we are as much to blame as they.

Here's one way we can do something about it. Go here (http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=o25T0BspJ7c) to hear Dan rather speak to the issue of a corporate-controlled press and here (www.freepress.net) to supplement your daily controlled news intake. As Mr. Rather points out, we need a press that "provides the raw material of democracy and the information to let us be full participants in a government of, by, and for the people."

For more information about media control read Deck Deckert's essay (http://www.swans.com/library/art8/rdeck022.html) or read some of the entries at http://mediamatters.org/

As of 2004, 5 huge corporations - Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) control most of the media industry in the U.S. How are they informing us and what are they not telling us? Are they the only news media you subscribe to, listen to, agree with?

Unless we ask, unless we protest, unless we claim the right to be well-informed and then make sure we are by reading every viewpoint, not just the ones we already agree with, how can we make truly informed decisions? We should ALWAYS question, ALWAYS search for our own reasons for believing what we're told, ALWAYS insist that we be involved in our government's decisions. It's what being free entails - responsibility. Our own.

photo credit: img179.imageshack.us/.../ 2383/freedomcopyzk6.jpg