Archive for November, 2013

MY FAVORITE TIME—OVER

November 5, 2013

My Favorite Time

Mother Nature, in her sometimes blunt manner, has given fair warning that my favorite time of the year has come to its annual close. Out here in the West, a succession of cloudless days of bright sun and blue skies, temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s, and seemingly endless days providing a round of golf as a choice activity, is typical.

But two major intrusions into my reverie in the form of two wet, heavy snowstorms interrupted what had appeared to be a cavalcade of trouble-free days. A couple of weeks devoted to gathering debris from the still-sapping trees provided an alert to what might yet be coming. Among those prospective visitors would be a bill, sometime in early spring, for thousands of dollars earmarked toward the trimming and felling of the 19 trees on our property suffering significant damage. Nothing is being done for the moment; the Tree Guy is waiting until the ground is frozen so that his bucket trucks only minimally damage our spacious yard.

These storms were highly unusual, given that nothing like that has occurred during the 42 winters we’ve lived in this small town. Usually, there would be one snowstorm before Thanksgiving, only adding a bit of conversational interest to the otherwise halcyon daily weather.

I’ve also missed the usually beautiful golden colors of leaves illuminated by the bright sun. My annual recall of a poem memorized in high school, “The Vagabond Song” by Bliss Carman, talked about “my heart is like a rhyme with the yellows and the purples and crimsons keeping time.” Carman evidently remained in the East; out here we mainly do Gold. Cottonwoods, planted as fast growers by pioneers as they moved West along the rivers, and their native aspen cousins, all are yellow as their leaves lose cholorophyll. Evergreens remain ever green, unless they have been hit by the varying kinds of pine beetles, and have dried-out red needles. This fall, many trees which would normally have contributed to the local color scheme instead had their leaves turn brown and dead before having a chance to exercise their birthright, and are merely providing me some exercise regarding their collection and disposal as mulch.

Other clues to the coming changes also raise their sometimes unwelcome heads. As I leave before 7 a.m. for my thrice-weekly workouts at the rehabilitation center (to deal with neuropathy), I’m now spending considerable time and effort scraping ice from my van’s huge windshield.

Necessary clothing decisions demand some attention; turtle necks with long sleeves become the shirts of choice especially when accompanied by a warm down-vest. I should mention that most of my wardrobe has its origins in the Eddie Bauer Outlet Store in Jackson Hole, and I annually look forward to seeing my favorite words prominently displayed in its windows—“Sale”, “Clearance”, “Close out”. A major and I suspect a permanent change has been from wearing jeans daily to donning some version of cargo pants; using the additional pockets for all the electronic crap that most of us carry throughout the day.

There’s also the arrival daily in the mail, or over the phone, of requests for donations for Worthy Causes. I’ve received 25 such pleas just in the past two weeks! What really riles me is that organizations to which I give  monthly, such as UNICEF and Wounded Warriors, evidently feel that my monthly contribution is not enough and are always asking for more. There’s the ones about money for dogs and cats; they want more monthly than UNICEF for children! AARP, Consumer’s Report Foundation, children with harelips, children in the Congo, Doctors Without Borders, American Cancer Society and its local branches; Breast Cancer, various disease support groups, food shelters, etc. I would be much more inclined to give during the summer than during the Holiday Season.

One of the bonuses of this time of year is the clarity of the sky; warming my astronomer’s heart if not the rest of my aging body. I have a super 8” reflecting telescope that I bought through a retired professional astronomer couple, ignoring the fact that the ‘scope together with its 26 lb. tripod is far too heavy for me to lift! I’ve yet to place the telescope on its mount. Although I never used my Astronomy major as a career option, I still have a great appreciation for the heavens and recall my first spiritual experience as I gazed into the Orion Nebula’s brilliantly glowing clouds of gas, on a crisp, winter evening as an undergraduate having free access to the university’s large telescope.

This weekend we’ve been invited to a baby shower. That’s right, a Baby Shower! Evidently the newest thing is to invite couples, not just the female half of couples. Our younger son and his wife are expecting their first child around the end of January, so their friends decided to have a major event in celebration! So, Friday we fly to Dallas, Saturday is the shower, and I get back early enough on Sunday to watch my favorite Broncos in action. My wife goes on to Arkansas, to evaluate a school district in the Ozarks.

Finally, this is the time of year for elections, mostly local. Tomorrow I find out if the vote to establish a Hospital District passed or not; it would raise my taxes about $60 annually but go a long way toward improving our local facility, which is about 60 years old. Later on, there may be a bond issue regarding a new building; these funds are primarily for operating expenses (no pun intended) and needed maintenance. But the conversations locally reflect the partisanship nationally; nothing raises the hackles of Republicans as does the four letter word, “taxes”. Ranchers scream about this tax, ignoring the fact that it removes 3 local mills from the county required 12 mills, thus freeing up money to improve services in many areas including ranches. Weed and Pest control, County Extension Agents, county road maintenance—all have suffered significant cutbacks during the past few years. They also ignore another fact—they’re taxed at a much lower level than those of us in town. The outcome of this special election will be interesting.

And what’s further depressing—there are still supposedly intelligent folks expressing the “birther” perspective. My insurance man mentioned that he saw “on the internet” a true copy of the President’s birth certificate that listed him as “African”. It was a clear example of what my college psychology professor, Herbert F. Wright, emphasized—“People believe what they NEED to believe”. Obviously if the facts don’t fit what they want, facts will be ignored and lots of energy will be wasted on dead end pursuits. Like the recent Tea Party efforts in Congress to kill Affordable Care.

Well, I guess I’ll just look forward to this weekend’s excursion, and more jaunts later—North Carolina the last week of November, Texas during the week after Christmas, and South Korea in February to evaluate a new Department of Defense school. And try to figure out what to do with that damned Meade telescope. All offers will be considered.

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth