August 10, 2021- The water came pouring into the office space, putting electronic equipment at risk and forging a disparate group of workers into a unified team. I’ve noticed that about the school where I once worked full time, and where I am covering for an old friend who is on family leave, this week. In about forty minutes, we had the water mostly sucked up, using wet vacuum cleaners and had prevented any electrical short-outs or fires.
This has been a beneficent monsoon season, after three years of drought-like summers. We are likely to get more storms, this week and at least part of next. The type of storm we had in the Prescott area is called a cloudburst, with a heavy amount of rain falling, in a relatively short time. That the students faced this at dismissal time is disconcerting, but not uncommon. I can recall one storm, in 2010, in Phoenix, in which the streets were impassable, north and south of the school where I was working. Heavy hail was also falling. I had to advise students who were trying to walk home, regardless, to return to the school and wait for safer conditions-and so notified the school office of the situation. Today’s situation was close to that-and many students indeed did come back inside for the duration of the storm. At least, there was no hail.
It is said there is no true retirement, when one’s career has been spent working with children and youth. So it goes.
For days, this week, thick cumulus clouds have circled around our town, dropping some precipitation on outlying areas, but skipping Prescott and the other towns closest to us.
While I was occupied with a Zoom session on whale songs and meditation, I sensed that the whales aimed to give the Prescott area a good soaking. Whether there was a cetacean connection or not, we got soaked this afternoon, and as I write this, we’re getting soaked again.
There is a lot that is genuinely monsoonal, in the summer rains that usually bless the Southwest. There was some concern, with climate change, that the rains would be a thing of the past. That is not true, so far this year, though. The storms we’ve had have been doozies and have not been spaced as far apart, as they were in the past five years.
It set me to thinking, in the decades and centuries to come, perhaps the technology will become available to naturally seed rain clouds and/ or to have continent-wide canals that will move water from areas where it is in danger of causing regular seasonal floods, to areas constantly beset by drought.
Pipe dreams, I know, but as COVID concerns and the rain keep me in my cozy Home Base, it’s fun to dream big.
It’s been hot and dry here, this month, as it usually is in Arizona, during the month of June, and often during the first half of July. There are high clouds, that keep the sun from becoming too blazing in intensity, and sometimes, we get the cooler air that’s left over from the storms that are hitting the Rockies and Great Basin. The monsoons, though, come from the south and southeast of us.
The very ground, though, doesn’t usually sizzle. I feel it starting to smoke, this year, though. Earth has a memory, of how her children, whose remains lie in her near crust, have been treated- often in the name of profit; sometimes in the name of convenience; most often in the name of ego gratification-which takes the other two along for the wild ride. She also has a memory of how she herself has been treated.
Reckonings have, historically, been very hard-and are resisted by those who are being asked to face the music. So it is now. There are events that have already happened and those yet to transpire, which have caused, and may cause, me to wince. Many of the great national heroes of our past are being lumped with those who challenged our country’s more enlightened social constructs.
The Confederates, even with the attempted revisionist history of the period 1985-2015, are still relatively easy to relegate to museums and scholarly study. I have visited Stonewall Jackson House, in Lexington, VA and learned that he taught his male slaves to read and write-using the Bible as text. I have learned that he was an organic gardener and herbalist. I recall thinking that, well, Hitler was a vegetarian. There is a difference between Thomas Jackson and der Fuehrer, in terms of degree of supremacism. Nonetheless, Stonewall OWNED people.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and John Tyler each owned people. They did great things for the Nation, but they OWNED people. The Presidents from the northern and midwestern states didn’t own human beings, but they supported the institution of slavery, to one extent or another, right past the Emancipation Proclamation (which only freed the enslaved people of the states which had seceded). New York City even had a plan to secede from the Union, in 1864, to guard Wall Street’s investments in cotton and tobacco.
All Presidents, with the possible exceptions of William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, had blindspots when it came to the First Nations-and, except for Lyndon Johnson, none had a true sense that African-Americans were the equals of European-Americans. There were limits to how much the country was willling to do, to set things right.
For purposes of this post, I will stop by saying that “Liberals” and “Progressives” do not have a sterling track record, when it comes to empowering and working WITH those for whom they claim to support. There are many paternalistic efforts being made, which only draw the condemnation of conservatives and their supporters among the African-American and First Nations communities. Doing things FOR people has only resulted in a lack of progress for these communities.
I remind those on the Right, though, of two things: The Democrats who actively engaged in segregationist policies, until 1970, or so, became Republicans, at the invitation of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, in the 1970’s and’80’s. Donald Trump is accelerating that effort, in the current era. Secondly, there is still a climate of fear being stoked, by the leaders of both parties, but the Republicans are in charge-and can fire up the machinery of pushback.
Personally, I see value in some aspects of both sides of the aisle. There remain these, however: African-Americans, for lack of a better collective, are not “Negroes”, “coloured people”, or even “people of colour”. There is no “Negro Problem”. Native Americans, asking for their land titles, are still not intent on destroying long-established communities with diverse populations. I was in Maine, duirng the Penobscot Land Settlement. The once and again owners of 2/3 of the state’s land did not evict anyone from that territory. The settlement was legal and financial, not socially disruptive. It was gratifying, as the Penobscot Nation includes some of my distant relatives.
Both sides would do well to get past hatred of the other and dispense with any air of superiority, especially when approaching the communities about whom they claim to care.
Here is a link to a very important, and challenging, presentation. It is worth a lot of thought, in my humble opinion. God bless America.
April 27, 2015, Chino Valley- Nepal, and the Himalayan region in general, is suffering deeply from the effects of Sunday’s earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks. A great deal of attention is going to the Westerners who are stuck on the slopes of Mount Everest. To be sure, the deaths of climbers are as tragic, in their way, as any other loss. Trekking is a key source of revenue for the Nepalese, as for those in Indian Sikkim, in Pakistani Swat and in Bhutan, which is only recently opening up to the mountaineers.
The immediate concern of most of the international community, though, is the plight of ordinary Nepalese. The one silver lining for them is that the Himalayan winter is drawing to a close, and the monsoons are a ways off. This gives the army of native and international aid workers a chance to accomplish the slow, painstaking work of clearing rubble, burying the dead, healing the injured, replanting fields and initiating long-term reconstruction.
These are orders as tall as Sagarmatha, the Sherpa name for Mount Everest. The process is as delicate as the ice sheets which now present an obstacle to several climbers who are trying to descend the mighty overlord. It will require fortitude as enduring as the great mountain itself.
There remain, though, the vagaries of the News Cycle, and by Wednesday, much ado will again be made of the Clinton Foundation (about which, more later) and due attention will be paid to Baltimore (about which, more tomorrow). The marriage issue will also supplant matters abroad, for a time.
I am neither young, nor financially wealthy. The skills I would bring to the table, were I to go to a disaster area, would be the ability to teach the young, a well of compassion and the willingness to get my hands dirty, doing whatever is needed to rebuild the community. I am unlikely to just jump on a plane, though, and show up with a bright, but determined, face.
These are my scattered thoughts about the shattered and beautiful land and its people. For now, I will finish the academic year, comforting those closer to home, getting a rootless man on his way to a better life in another state and pushing forward with my Spirit Quest to the northwest coast.
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