This Thing Called Courage

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006


WHILE THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING is two days away, one wouldn't know it by the look and feel of the weather-- 17 was the low last night, and with the wind hurling out of the Northwest, I shudder to think what the wind chill was. But, undoubtedly, these are pretty days-- deep cerulean-blue sky, white puff clouds, and the sun slanting at a beautiful, clarifying angle-- 'an elegant winter's day,' as my dear late Great Auntie Mag would say. The signs of spring though are still here for us to see-- if you drive by a grouping of woods, especially from a distance, you will notice a blush of red on many of the tree tops-- these are the buds of the red maple (Acer rubrum) and a pretty thing they are to the winter-weary heart. They are among the first to bud-out in the spring, and among the first to flame crimson in the fall-- the old-timers called them 'Judas Trees' for this reason, as they are 'the first to turn.' A mean and unlovely name for a beautiful tree. There are two ancient ones growing side-by-side in Happy Land, and these have become friends of mine over the years-- I visit them often and think of Thoreau's words, 'Rather than visit some scholar, I sat myself beneath an old tree in the forest, and drank in his less bitter wisdom.' Or something like that. And yesterday, some willow bushes (closely related to the pussy willow) were sending out their gray-white puff-balls. I thought of snapping a few branches to bring them home, but 'these willows belong at Mbusa,' to paraphrase Isek Dinesen. And the other day I heard and saw my first Red-winged Blackbirds of the season, a much more accurate barometer of spring than the appearence of robins, many of whom winter over.

In less plesant news it's the Third Anniversary of the illegal, immoral, morally-and-economically bankrupting Iraq Invasion. What a shameful and dubious occasion. No weapons of mass destruction, no 'mushroom cloud,' no citizens throwing flowers at us in the street, no embrace of democracy, no 'cakewalk,' no 'over in six months,' no 'miossion accomplished,' but instead 2300+ Us Troops dead, 4000 maimed, 50,000 wounded, tens of thousands of Iraq citizens killed including thousands and thousands of women and children, no end in sight, the country on the verge of civil war, our country 1 trillion dollars poorer (think what they could have done in terms of health care, safety nets, education, infrastructure, and rebuilding New Orleans, just to name a few, with that money!) We are now universally reviled, there are more 'terrorists' than ever bent on our destruction, millions of jobs have been outsourced, Halliburton, GE, Blackwater, and other corporate friends of this administration have benefitted beyond belief from this imperial misadventure while no one associated with this administration has actually ever served in their country's military, scores and scores of environmental regulations have been rescinded, and more and more people are falling below the poverty level. We have lived through a coup in this country and the principles of our Founding Fathers, as well as our biological fathers and mothers, have been betrayed.
Enough! There is a movement afoot to 'do somnething' April 1, take tot he streets, have a general strike, etc, and see if there is anything left of the charming old idea of the will of 'we the people.' But alas, give most people a big-screen TV and an SUV and they are content to stay within these cul-de-sacs of the mind. Time will tell if we deserve this democracy we have inherited from those who took care of it before us.

Saw a great play last night, 'A More Perfect Union,' tackling the isues of the day, censorship, people getting involved or not, self-absorption, compassion, etc-- all told from an inner city point of view. Very well done and very thought-provoking, at the Black Box Theatre. The cast was outstanding. After the play Joe A. (my lovely escort for the evening) and I went to Francesca's for hot chocolate and toast with peanut butter.

Also yesterday I started some milkweed plants from seeds I found in the woods along the Fellsway. Milkweed (Asclepias) has many varities native to various regions of the continent. Our local 'common' Milkweed is Asclepias syrica. It blooms in mid-summer with an exquisitely fragrant cluster of mauve flowers, then ahs those fantastic seed-pods int eh fall, which open up to hundreds of 'parachutes,' each carrying a seed hither and thither as the wind dictates. Milkweed is the only plant the Monarch Butterfly can lay its eggs on, as the larvae, when they hatch out, eat exclusively this plant. Milkweed is poisonous but the Monarchs have built up an immunity to it, and thus if a bird ever grabs a Monarch for a meal-- it will promptly spit it out and won't do so ever again. Due to loss of habitat there is much less milkweed around than their used to be, so...plant milkweed everywhere! Go to
http://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm for more info.

Wednesday night I had a lovely visit with Mike and Carol and Baby Will down Nahant way. After an hour or two or baby-coddling, followed by a delicious meal, Mike and I took a walk under a full-moon, haunted sky, where massive and dramatic clouds played hide and seek with the moonlight. Very evocotive and inspirational for my current novel, a mystery which takes place in Nahant, though I call in 'Nawshant.'

I have the flu today and feel gross, but tomorrow is, after all, another day. Closing thought for the day-- Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.'

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