Tag Archive 'politics'

Jan 17 2017

Profile Image of Walt


Filed under Blog Post

On the eve of a major shift of power in these dis-United States, I feel the urge to speak out for sanity even though I don’t know much about such things. My own grasp of reality is tenuous, and I struggle daily to maintain it. All the same, I see madness breaking out all around me – exceptional even by the standards of our time.

It is not just a matter of liberal versus conservative. That’s an old argument, as common as the sun rising. No, it goes much deeper than that. When liberals fight with liberals and conservatives fight with conservatives, you know there is big trouble afoot. As Westerners, we watch Arabs fighting with Arabs then shake our heads at the absurdity of their divisiveness, wondering why they don’t see it. Well, now we know. Now we are the same way.

On a bookshelf in my study sits a ceramic log cabin. It’s a recently acquired family heirloom that reminds me of a fantasy I’ve nurtured most of my life: to someday retreat to a cabin deep in the woods. No, not a Thoreauvian experiment in self-sufficiency, but instead an escape from what I call the madness of civilization. Is such an escape even possible in these modern times? How deep would I have to go to escape property taxes, liability insurance, and all the other trappings of civil society? Could it be anything short of an outlaw existence? Would I still be able to access the Internet?

Whether we like it or not, we are all connected now. The world in the 21st century is truly global. The nationalistic urges cropping up all over the place are only longings for the good ol’ days, when us-versus-them was easy, when our tanks met with their tanks on the battlefield and the winner took all. Hmm… Not so easy nowadays, is it? I know the Chinese are up to no good but I still buy their stuff at Walmart. How about you? Do you really believe that you can live your life these days in any way that isn’t globalized?

Cursed with a tendency to philosophize, I can’t help but see the flaws inherent in any worldview that I or anyone else could possibly devise. Like everyone else, I am only human. My reasoning powers are imperfect no matter how hard I try to make sense of things. That said, just imagine the difficulty I have in the voting booth, thrashing about in the quagmire of good and evil while selecting people to run the government. Oh, the righteous have it so easy by comparison. They know exactly who to pick, and who to shoot at when the war breaks out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no peacenik. I know we can’t all just get along, and I know the difference between right and wrong. I know, for example, that rounding up the millions of people that you don’t like and putting them in gas chambers is a really bad idea. And when a True Believer goes down that dark road, there’s only one way to stop them from creating hell on earth. But the problems that humankind creates for itself cannot ultimately be resolved by armed conflict. That’s a fantasy even greater than my cabin in the woods.

One could argue that globalism is exactly what fuels our divisiveness. When there was plenty of space between the few bands of hominids roaming the earth thousands of years ago, there was a lot less fighting no doubt. With over 7 billion of us crowding the earth now, and technology connecting us, major conflicts are inevitable. We can’t just retreat to our own little corners any more and ignore everyone else. So we must find a way, somehow, to live together. And that begins with tolerance.

Being wild at heart, I still escape to the woods whenever I can, to breathe easy for a while, get a handle on myself, and find my place in the world. But these forays are temporary. I spend most of my days living among my own kind in the developed lowlands where conflicts abound, doing my best to be as civil as possible. And that, I believe, is what all men and women should do: be as civil to each other as possible. The alternative is so ugly that I don’t even want to consider it. That which divides us could easily destroy us all.



Comments Off on Divisiveness

Sep 06 2012

Profile Image of Walt

First Color

Filed under Blog Post

I deny it for a week or so, telling myself that I’m seeing only the occasional stressed tree. Then poplars fade yellow and I ignore them. But goldenrod is in full bloom in the fields, and white wood asters populate the forest floor. If there’s any doubt in my mind as to what time of year it is, all I have to do is open my ears to the high-pitched, electric whine of crickets that has replaced the melodic sounds of songbirds.

I enjoy autumn as much as summer, yet there is always something a little sad about the transition between the two. When I was a child, I thought the sadness had everything to do with going back to school. Perhaps it did back then. But now it stems from something else. Now it’s all about the end of the growing season.

Even though the first hard frost is many weeks away, I can’t help but notice that the sun is setting earlier. The equinox is right around the corner and evenings are much cooler. The first color explodes suddenly amid the green and I am shocked by it. Yeah, there’s really no sense denying it any more. Another summer is history.

I bite into an apple grown close to home and taste the season. A cool breeze surprises me when I step outdoors in the morning, making me think twice about how I’m dressed. I go for a long walk on the recreation path and hardly break a sweat. Where did all those menacing flies and mosquitoes go? They’re not nearly as numerous as they were just a few weeks ago.

This is the best time of year to go for a hike. It’s also a good time to ruminate. After all, one’s cognitive batteries have had all summer to recharge. What I like best about autumn is the earthy smell of drying leaves, reminding me that wild nature is an endless cycle of growth and decay. I find consolation in that as the noise and absurdity of fall elections reaches its feverish pitch. Fact and fiction get all mixed up periodically. But some things you can count on no matter what, like leaves turning color. That is unmistakable.


One response so far

Jan 19 2011

Profile Image of Walt

Culture of Fear

Filed under Blog Post

A friend of mine urged me to visit Salon.com and read an article about how the government has created a climate of fear since 9/11.  I did just that and, quite frankly, I was underwhelmed.  Like most of what passes for journalism these days, the article was only about half true.

Fear is alive and well in America nowadays, but that’s largely due to the fact that we have created the ideal environment for it.  We live in a culture of fear, and all of us are culpable to some extent: patriots, pundits, fundamentalists, environmentalists, artists, scientists, government workers, businessmen, teachers, radicals and conservatives alike.  All of us are on the verge of panic on any given day, and neither politicians nor the media can resist playing on that.  Why should they?

Some nut shoots up the place and suddenly he has the rapt attention of the entire nation.  Why shouldn’t the media, the government or anyone else with a vested interest exploit the situation?  What’s to stop them?

When I was in the wilds of Southeast Alaska years back, I stumbled upon the remains of a moose.  I found a little hair, blood and tissue, but mostly just bones scattered across the gravel riverbank.  I squatted down in the middle of the mess and tried to wrap my brain around what had happened here.  Moose don’t die of old age in the open like this, I told myself.  They crawl into the dense alder bush to do it.  So this one must have been surprised by a brown bear, a pack of wolves, or something.  Suddenly it occurred to me that I could meet a similar fate before the end of the day.  Then I felt what can only be described as absolute dread.  Sometimes one has good reason to be afraid.  Some threats are immediate and very real.

What are the chances of either you or me being hit by lightning?  That’s not nearly as likely as one of us being horribly mangled or killed in an auto accident.  I’ve never seen a terrorist or mad gunman in action, but I’ve arrived early onto the scene of a horrific auto accident several times.  And yet, like most people, I keep on driving my car as if it could never happen to me.

Some things are worth being afraid of.  Others are not.  But in a culture of fear, legitimate fears are ignored while other less significant threats are blown completely out of proportion.  Why?  Because there’s money to be made by it.  Because we’ll go to any lengths to prevent or avoid the threats that we believe can be prevented or avoided.  Yet who refuses to get into their car?

Snoop around on the Internet and you’ll find that many more Americans die in auto accidents each year than have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars combined.  And every year there are many more auto deaths than murders in this country.  Think about that the next time you strap yourself into your car and head for the highway.  Then ask your self why you don’t fear your car at least as much as you fear the random bomb or bullet.

Comments Off on Culture of Fear

Nov 05 2010

Profile Image of Walt

Stark Landscape

Filed under Blog Post

Suddenly the leaves are gone.  They’re on the ground, that is, and the lush forest has turned into so many sticks.  At the same time, we are now spending a third of our waking hours in the dark, and daylight is muted by clouds that appear to be more common this time of year.  The surrounding countryside, ablaze with color just a few weeks ago, is suddenly all brown and gray.

Here in northern Vermont, the harshness of November comes hard and fast.  I’m never quite ready for it.  I raked leaves yesterday, thoroughly enjoying brisk air while doing so, but a cold rain began a few hours after I finished.  Good chance that the rain will turn to snow today.  That means I got that task done just in time.

The physical landscape isn’t the only thing that looks dreary.  The political landscape these days is just as stark.  An angry, frustrated electorate voted out Democrats and voted in Republicans this week, causing a transfer of power in the House.  Why?  Because of the bad economy, of course.  Wall Street might be doing okay, but unemployment still hovers around ten percent, consumer confidence is still down, and foreclosures continue.  Uncertainty persists.  The general sentiment is that the Democrats have failed us.  Can the Republicans do better?  Probably not, but some kind of change is needed.  The desperation is palpable.

If I had any solutions to our country’s woes, I’d run for office.  But I’m fresh out of ideas, as most thinking folks are.  All I know is that Washington gridlock will only prolong the pain, preventing any significant change from occurring.  Democrats and Republicans will drag out the same old ideological arguments, and the economy will limp along for another two years.  Yeah, a stark landscape to say the least.

The seasons change and most of us find ways to adapt.  That much is certain.  Not being a big one for winter sports, I’ll do more thinking and writing in the long months ahead, and get outdoors less.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

As for the bigger picture, well, I’ll try not to stress out about it.  We had our chance to vote.  Now things must simply run their course.  Enough said.  Just don’t expect be to break into song when the Powers That Be offer me a tax cut.  I know all too well that, in the long run, that won’t fix a damned thing.

Comments Off on Stark Landscape

Nov 27 2009

Profile Image of Walt

Tipping Point

Filed under Blog Post

When I was a teenager, I firmly believed that the Apocalypse was at hand, that the end of the world as portrayed in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Fundamentalists was just about to take place.  This belief framed my worldview until I studied enough history and philosophy to convince me otherwise.  Now I see things differently.  Now I realize that the world is constantly changing.  Now I see that the Apocalypse occurs every day for someone somewhere on the planet.  Every time a culture perishes or a species goes extinct, it is the end of the world as we know it.

Like all other apocalyptic narratives, Global Warming is predicated upon a set of inflexible beliefs.  It goes something like this:  The amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is rapidly increasing, and soon it will trigger a wholesale collapse of the entire planetary ecosystem.  Most of that increase is due to human activity.  We have to change our ways and radically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas we emit before it’s too late.  The most important part of this narrative is the last part: before it’s too late. No apocalypse worthy of the name omits that disclaimer.

Environmentalists warn of a tipping point – a point of no return.  Once there are enough greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, an irreversible breakdown of the planetary ecosystem will occur.  But there’s still time, we are told.  If we act now, we can still stop it.  Hmm.  That sounds an awful lot like the kind of hard-sell pitch that hustlers make on television late at night.  Act now. . . before it’s too late!

How will we know when it’s too late?  Scientists are generating all kinds of computer models to tell us just that.  They assume that it’s possible to know all the critical elements of a planetary ecosystem as complex as ours.  Are our scientists really arrogant enough to think they can determine the tipping point?  Evidently so.

Clearly, for the thousands of species of plants and animals that have gone extinct, it is already too late.  For the glaciers that have disappeared in the north, it is already too late.  For those who want the weather to make sense again, it is already too late.  The sea level is rising.  It’s up a couple inches already.  Soon it will be up to mid-calf.   Will it be too late when it reaches our knees?  How about our waists?

The tipping point concept is more politics than science.  It smacks of high drama.  Like all apocalyptic narratives, it is designed to inspire us, to force a behavioral change that will save us from ourselves.  But the stark reality of our situation is much less forgiving.  If we act now, then maybe we can salvage what’s left of an ecosystem that has been so good to us for so long.  If we act now, then maybe we can reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere during the next hundred years.  Then again, maybe not.  Either way, we will continue suffering the consequences of industrialization for centuries to come.  Either way, the world will change.  There’s no going back to the way things were.

Comments Off on Tipping Point

Nov 20 2009

Profile Image of Walt

Culture Wars in the Woods

Filed under Blog Post

A few days ago, I dropped everything and headed for the hills.  I hiked the Long Trail south from Route 15, taking full advantage of unseasonable warmth and sunshine.  I wore a red flannel shirt to announce myself to hunters.  My dog, Matika, wore a blaze orange vest.   I followed trail markers up a dirt road hugging Smith Brook to a clearing about a mile back.  From there I would either stay on the trail or bushwhack in one direction or another.  I hadn’t decided yet.

At the clearing, I looked over and saw a pickup truck parked next to the hunting camp. I had walked past this camp many times before but had never seen anyone there.  Since I’ve been bushwhacking and guerrilla camping in these woods for a dozen years or more, I thought maybe I should stop by and get permission to do so.  The land between here and the northernmost boundary of Mount Mansfield State Forest isn’t posted, but it never hurts to get permission.  So I knocked on the door.

A tall, thin man about my age in full hunting regalia opened the door.  He immediately invited me and my dog inside.  We exchanged names.  Adrian sat down at the ancient Formica table and gestured for me to join him. He lit a cigarette.  Did I mind if he smoked?  Of course not.  What the heck, I thought, it’s his camp.

We talked about an hour.  At first we kept to safe subjects like the weather, what the beavers and other wild animals in the neighborhood were doing, and the beauty of the surrounding forest.  Then we kicked it up a notch: bears coming around camp, and coyote predation.  Did I like bear meat?  I prefer elk or deer, I told Adrian, adding that my favorite wild food is brook trout.  I’ve taken and eaten a few from the nearby stream, in fact.  With a nod he approved of that.

Am I a member of the Green Mountain Club?  Yes I am, I said.  Since I regularly hike the LT and other trails maintained by the GMC, I feel obligated to pay dues at the very least.  And with that announcement, the fun began.

Adrian told me his family has owned this land, through which the Long Trail passes, for many years.  His grandfather used to log it.  Now the logging here is done mostly by the Johnson Company, on the other side of the brook.  But every once in a while, some hiker would leave a note on Adrian’s door telling him he shouldn’t cut the trees.  It’s ugly and bad for the environment, or something like that.  A hiker left a note on his generator once, telling him it was too noisy.  Other hikers have broken into his camp – when the nearby shelter was full.  In recent years, the GMC asked for an easement, thus assuring that the Long Trail would forever pass through here.  Adrian’s family has always allowed the trail to cross their land but was offended by the Club’s desire for a 200-foot no-logging buffer on either side of the trail.  And so on.  I got the message loud and clear.  What started out as a friendly and casual arrangement had degenerated to Us-versus-Them.  Soon the LT would be rerouted to a strip of land the GMC had acquired just east of Adrian’s property.

Towards the end of the hour, we both agreed it was time to stop talking and get into the woods.  November days are short.  Before leaving, though, I mustered up the courage to ask Adrian’s permission to continue hiking and camping on his land.  He granted permission with a shrug of the shoulders, as if that was the least of his concerns.  So I thanked him and said goodbye.

A short while later, I was so lost in thought that I missed a turn and accidentally left the Long Trail.  But instead of backtracking, I continued down a snowmobile trail until it crossed a small brook.  Then I bushwhacked downstream to a cranberry bog I’ve been meaning to visit for years.  Eventually I retraced my steps, hiking out of the woods.  But when I passed the camp in the clearing, Adrian’s truck was gone.  I hope our conversation didn’t sour the day for him.  Nothing leaves a bitter taste in the mouth quite like politics does, no matter how civil the discourse may be.  I had tried to listen respectfully, but the ghosts of past belligerents still haunted the man.  And there would be more of the same in the future, no doubt.

One response so far

Oct 07 2009

Profile Image of Walt

Forward Thinking

Filed under Blog Post

I recently read an article in Scientific American titled “Squeezing More Oil from the Ground.”   Since Leonardo Maugeri, an Italian oil executive, wrote the piece, I approached it with great skepticism.  But Maugeri convinced me that another hundred year’s worth of oil can be extracted from the earth, using secondary and tertiary recovery methods.  Resourceful fellows, these oil barons.  As global demand increases and the price of oil rises, they’ll simply inject water, gas or thinning agents into the ground to push more oil to the surface.  So we don’t have to give up our gas-guzzling trucks and cars anytime soon.  That is, if global warming isn’t factored into the discussion.

Here in Vermont, we’re trying to decide whether or not to extend the license for our nuclear plant another twenty years, despite the fact that there’s been trouble with the cooling towers.  Those in favor of the extension argue that the cost of decommissioning the plant exceeds the funds allocated, so electric rates would have to go up to cover the difference.  What do you think?  How many things can you find wrong with this picture?

Meanwhile, a local newspaper is running a “green” section in its Sunday edition, celebrating the many different ways that individuals, cooperatives and small businesses are making the world a better place with their eco-conscious activities.  Rarely is there any talk about what large, “clean tech” corporations are doing, thus perpetuating the myth that the world’s environmental problems can only be solved by feel-good, grassroots organizations.

A year ago, the OPEC nations figured out that Westerners won’t grouse about the price of oil if it hovers around $70 a barrel, so now they are managing their supplies accordingly.  As long as the global recession persists, supply will continue outstripping demand.  Are we to assume that things will always be this way?

I could give more examples but this will do.  There is much talk in business circles these days about “forward thinking,” with all eyes towards productivity and profit, yet rarely is there any discussion beyond that.  In non-business circles, utopian dreams take the place of forward thinking, and people cultivate beliefs that business and government aren’t necessary, or that government can fix what business breaks.  Either way, they are sure to be disappointed.

When I step out of the woods, turning my attention away from mud, aching joints and biting flies, and towards what I find in the newspaper, I am amazed by the absurdity of it all.  The one constant in all the misery that humankind creates for itself is an utter lack of insight.  Forward thinking doesn’t really exist  – at least not in any meaningful sense.  So please excuse me for not taking a stand the next time some hot topic is being discussed.  It seems to me that, more often than not, we are having the wrong conversation.

Comments Off on Forward Thinking

May 01 2009

Profile Image of Walt

The Politics of Nature

Filed under Blog Post

People naturally assume that I’m eager to save the planet from the ravages of industrialism, protect all endangered species from extinction, and preserve as much wild forest as possible.  Surely someone as passionate about wild nature as I am must be an environmental activist, or so the conventional line of reasoning goes.  This assumption is made by liberals and conservatives alike, and confusion registers visibly in their faces when I deny it.  And when I add that I reject “-Ist” and “-Ism” altogether, that I’m too much of a philosopher to be truly political, most people peg me as a fence-sitter and leave it at that.  Who can blame them?  Action is what matters in this world of ours.  Words are only words.

I studied too much political theory back in college – that’s the problem.  I learned all I could learn about Socialism, Fascism, Republicanism, Democracy, Theocracy and the rest of it.  I even cultivated my own alternative political philosophy for a while.  But all that is just theory.  Politics is the concentration and exercise of power to project one’s own cherished values onto the world.  Ideology is merely the excuse needed to get the job done, to mobilize other people to action.  As a would-be propagandist and pamphleteer, I see right through the advertisements, both left and right.  In other words, I know bullshit when I see it, and no “Ism” is an exception to the rule, not even Anarchism.

Generally speaking, I am reluctant to voice this opinion of mine – and that’s all it is, really – because there’s no advantage in offending nearly everyone else on the planet.  But make no mistake about it, I don’t care to wave any flag, even one with a picture of Mother Earth on it.

While activists break into two distinct camps, warring with each other in the political arena, global warming continues, thousands of species disappear, and the wild forest grows smaller. When the liberals are in power, laws are passed protecting the environment – keeping Big Business from trashing it, that is.  When the conservatives are in power, those laws are rescinded or new ones are passed, enabling businessmen to profit from the use and abuse of natural resources no matter what.  Back and forth the pendulum swings, year-in and year-out.  To what end?  Do you really believe that one side will ultimately win this battle?  Do you really think that an activist of any stripe can do anything that can’t be undone?

What’s at stake here is quality of life – the quality of our lives, not those of trees, whales or spotted owls.  It’s really more a matter of economics, not politics.  When enough people grasp the true cost of their shopping mall world, and what is lost in the process of perpetuating it, there will be little resistance to salvaging what’s left of the wild.  Most people act in their own best interest.  All any real lover of wild things needs to do is show them exactly what’s at stake.  Then nature will take its course.

Comments Off on The Politics of Nature

Feb 18 2009

Profile Image of Walt

Gettysburg Walk

Filed under Blog Post

During a rather impromptu trip to Virginia to visit my stepson and his family, I stopped by Gettysburg.  I needed to stretch my legs after driving alone for 500 miles and the battlefield seemed like just the place to do that.  Besides, what better way to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday?

I parked my car halfway up a hill called Big Round Top then followed a path winding down through the woods.  I was not alone.  The wind blowing through the trees was ten thousand ghosts whispering a battle hymn.  A lone crow cawed in the distance.  The sun broke through the clouds moving fast overhead, then disappeared again.  The ground underfoot was soft and completely free of snow, reminding me that I was a long way from Vermont.  Wearing only a sweater and a light jacket, I walked in comfort – a pleasant foretaste of the warm season to come.

I popped out of the woods near a place called the Devil’s Den, and wandered amid dry, knee-high grass for a while.  The rocky face of Little Round Top loomed over the open field, though, so I turned towards it.  I followed a sketchy path easing slowly uphill to a low spot in the long ridge of hills, seeing as some Confederate general must have seen that here the Union line could be turned.  And sure enough, I ran into a monument marking the place where Chamberlain’s Maine regiment anchored the Union left flank.  No doubt scores of history buffs had gone this way before me.

While standing in that rather nondescript notch, I scanned the surrounding woods, trying to wrap my brain around one simple fact:  Here the fate of the Republic was determined by men locked in a struggle to the death.  A profound difference of opinion resolved by the shedding of blood.  The ground underfoot was soaked with it.  The institution of slavery did not survive the ordeal, and for that I am grateful for the sacrifice made.  But I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better way to resolve differences.  Must it always come to this?

Before stopping at Gettysburg, I had been listening to National Public Radio.  The 787-billion-dollar stimulus package dominates the news these days.  Once again congressional Republicans and Democrats are lining up along party lines with divergent views about how to fix the mess we’ve made of the economy.  Looks like the Dems have enough votes to pass their spending bill.  The Reps are sure it’ll lead to disaster, as if we aren’t there already.

As I finished my walk back to the car, I wondered if our contemporary culture is what our forefathers had in mind when they created this nation.  I wondered what those boys in blue and gray would think if they could rise from their graves and see what their country looks like today.  Would they all agree that their sacrifices were well worth it?

Walking the battlefield, I really don’t know what to think.  All my philosophical abstractions implode amid those parked cannons, monuments and grassy fields.  All I know is that I feel a deep sadness every time I go to Gettysburg, and always end up wiping tears from my eyes while driving away.  So much blood.  So much sacrifice.  What a fragile Republic this is, built upon such lofty ideals.

One response so far

Jan 19 2009

Profile Image of Walt

Passing Judgment

Filed under Blog Post

I got out of bed yesterday, dressed in thermals and wools, then stepped out the door while it was still dark.  I woke up in a bad mood for some reason – maybe I had been pondering the human condition in my sleep.  All I know is that I felt a powerful urge to go for a long walk and air out my stinky thoughts.  Since my wife and dog were visiting a friend for the weekend, there was nothing to prevent me from breaking the morning routine.  So out the door I went.

At first I kept to the sidewalk, but snowdrifts made walking there difficult so I moved to the street.  On a wintry Sunday morning before daybreak, it didn’t matter.  A car cruised by every once in a while, but I had the street to all myself for the most part.  I imagined trying to explain to some policeman why I was prowling the town.  But that was only my stinky thoughts creeping to the forefront of my consciousness, so I let it go.

I listened the other day as our outgoing president made his last speech, justifying eight years of ineptitude and that, I think, is what put me over the edge.  He passed judgment on himself as a way of setting the record straight, before anyone else could do so.  He passed judgment on everyone and everything in sight, seizing the moral high ground.  Or so he thought.  But history will not be kind to him.  I’m sure of that.

We all do it.  Passing judgment is as common as passing gas.  It’s an integral part of being human.  But there are times when it seems to me like the root of all evil.  I recently read several books about the Eastern Front in World War Two and was appalled by what the Nazis and Soviets did to each other there, along with anyone else in the way.  Tens of millions of people died, combatants and non-combatants alike, as each side pursued its morally righteous agenda by sheer force.  80% of the war was fought on that front and none of it was pretty.  To what end?  Misery, cruelty, death, destruction, and ultimately back to square one:  the Cold War, taking sides again, us and them.  And so on and so on . . .

Where does it all end?  According to those passing judgment, it never does – not until heaven on earth has been firmly established.  All we have to do is stand tall against the bad guys and good will prevail, right?  This is precisely what our departing president believes and why the world is such a mess.  I pray that the incoming president has more sense, but there’s a stink in the air as the victors of the last election celebrate.  Is that the smell of moral righteousness?  It smells to me like something dead.

As I finished my frigid walk, I flushed a murder of crows from a long row of conifers lining a side street.  They whirled about the bleached landscape in predawn light, cawing with unusual menace before settling into a few naked maples.  I was cold, achy, sweaty but feeling much better than I’d felt an hour earlier.  Walking is like that. I was tempted to read something into the sudden presence of so many carrion-eaters, but quickly jettisoned the thought.  “Give it a break,” I mumbled, reminding myself how easy it is to pass judgment and how little good comes from it.   Then I went home to a hot cup of coffee and breakfast.  And the day began in snowy stillness and beauty despite the endless gray sky overhead.

Comments Off on Passing Judgment