THE BLUE HERON

Delray Beach, Florida 2014

STORIES FROM HIGLEY HILL

I’ve lived a good life. It’s been a good ride.
I’ve visited 49 of the 50 states. Backpacked through Europe. Drank a pina colada on six Caribbean islands.
Crossed the southern border into Mexico on a bus filled with locals traveling with their chickens.
Years later Rich and I had to “open zee trunk” for some federales on the road to Chichen Itza.
Another time we drove south from Tijuana, swam in the Pacific Ocean, and ate one clawed lobsters at a beachside bar that claimed to have invented the caesar salad for Humphrey Bogart.
We were married in front of a roaring fire with a moose presiding over the ceremony in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada – one of the five Canadian provinces I’ve visited.

I have children. Two daughters, 26 and 28. In the prime of their lives with dreams of their future. Thank goodness they haven’t had children of their own. If I had grandkids right now my head and my heart would explode.

My Dad taught U.S. history all his working life. He was also a mailman in the summertime. Both careers and those American institutions that we were once proud of are now under assault.

Yesterday while I took a break from the onslaught of terrible news Mr. Trump ranted about an emerging classroom narrative that “America is a wicked and racist nation.”
He announced he was creating a new ‘1776 Commission to help “restore patriotic education to our schools.” He said. “Our heroes will never be forgotten. Our youth will be taught to love America.” He was standing before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution when he billed this propaganda as “the first White House Conference on American History.” The event took place on Constitution Day, the anniversary of the document’s signing in 1787.

“Yet as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance,” he said. He also claimed that American schools have become infected with revisionist ideas about the nation’s founding and history. “We have created a new generation of Marxist activists who believe American society is fundamentally racist and wicked.” he said. He accused these imaginary people of taking to the streets in recent months.
“Left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long,” he said.
There was no mention of Texas and other states who for years now have been special ordering edited textbooks that leave out parts of Native American and Black history.

For years I have argued we were headed down a dangerous road led by Lee Atwater type campaign managers and the politicians who took their advice on using racist division as a strategy to win elections. I tried to explain if you vote for candidates who use these racist tactics you are endorsing this type of politics and they will continue to use it because they have learned it works and over time it will get worse. It fell on deaf ears. And here we are.

I can’t imagine how my 87 year old Dad feels about the years he spent sharing his passion for American history with high school students.

This weekend my brother-in-law visited us. He helped Rich cut down some old larch trees that could have fallen on the house in a winter storm and done serious damage.
I know he voted for Trump and he’s doing it again.
I avoided the subject until he brought it up just before he hit the road.
I made a defense or two, then turned around and walked into the house after saying goodbye.
That goodbye was forever.

I understand my husband’s dilemma. I am grateful for the help his older brother gave us. But at this point in time I have to ask myself, would I be hanging out with Hitler supporters? I’m serious. You can argue with me if you want but I don’t think there’s any other way to see this when our president is using the language of facsists.

During the days of Trump I have come to understand how good Germans felt during World War II.

But I have to stay here on this dying planet earth in this broken country for as long as my aching heart keeps beating. I have to fight for my daughters’ future but I’m tired and lost. I can’t describe how raw my anger was when I heard Trump say “Science doesn’t know” with that smirky smile of his while the American West burned and the Gulf Coast flooded.

We have to win this election folks. My letters to voters who have not voted in the last few elections are on their way to Texas. A state that already edits its history textbooks. A state I’ve visited numerous times from El Paso to San Antonio, and Houston to Corpus Christie on a wild ride that really did take place because truth is always stranger than fiction.

You’ll have to read Life Is All This if you want to know what I’m talking about.

It’s drizzling outside. I don’t know what to do with myself on another dreary day during a raging pandemic. The TV is off. A walk in the rain may be the solution. The raindrops would hide the tears.

Just two evenings ago the sunset was a fiery orange ball like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was due to the smoke on the West coat, 2976 miles from here. My daughter in Missoula, Montana told me she had a headache and the air was so bad she spent the day indoors.

John Muir once said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

I would bet my last three unemployment checks that Donald Trump has no idea who John Muir is and what he did for our National Parks.

I saw a blue heron the other day while I was driving up Higley Hill. A few years ago, shortly after my sister’s husband died, I stepped out on my deck as a heron leaped from underneath me and flew off into the woods. I think it was Don saying goodbye. I saw herons all the time when I lived in Florida and New Hampshire. I didn’t know they were here in Vermont. I’ll leave you with this:

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the Wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the Great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water,
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world and am free.”

In the meantime how are you dealing with friends and relatives who are voting for Trump?

4 thoughts on “THE BLUE HERON

  1. My dear friend, you’ve expressed eloquently that for which I am too weary to find words anymore.
    We know who is fundamentally racist and wicked and it’s not the left.

    I’ve found lately that my entire body is aching and I was attributing it to my advancing years. I’ve come to believe that it’s a result of this exhaustion, this daily beating down of our mores, our beloved values, our Democracy. The unholy trinity of trump/barr/mcconell is hell-bent on destroying us for power and money. We cannot let them prevail. Those who sat back four years ago must come out by the millions to defeat this cancer on our country.

    I don’t know what else to say….

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    • I don’t know what to say either my dear friend. I wrote this yesterday morning thinking this was my greatest concern because history really matters to me and I believe it should matter to everyone living in a democracy where participation and education are imperative. As Jefferson once said, “Education is the anvil upon which democracy is forged.”
      But no, No Sheila, not during the days of Trump. Late in the day we heard the devastating news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A loss like no other in these past almost four years when we have so lost so much. I have no words for this.

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  2. Sheila, I do worry so about the world my grandchildren are left with. How could this mess be so? I’m writing my 200 postcards to voters in Texas, which is where I now live to be closer to my daughters and their families. LET’S TURN TEXAS BLUE!!!!!

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