Archive for November 11th, 2020

STRANGER IN MY OWN LAND

November 11, 2020

Two days after the election, the Crew had a job up on Shale Ridge on the North Fork of the Middle Fork (yes, it is called that) of the Willamette River. This was just outside of the Waldo Lake Wilderness, not far from the Three Sisters Wilderness, so chain saws were allowed.  We had four crews to deal with about five miles of trail.

I knew a guy from the Club who had recently led a hike in that area and asked him what sort of condition the trail was in.  He mentioned rotting bridges over streams and big tangles of logs and brush over the trail. I’m amazed these days that I have “connections” to learn about who has hiked where, who hadn’t put out a campfire, who is doing what in the Forest. I passed the scouting information on to the crew leader, before we all drove up separately and had our “tailgate session” at Constitution Grove. That is where we discuss the day and safety. I was with two crew leaders, one with the saw, the other, like me, a swamper helping.  We started towards the river and soon found plenty of work.  Constitution Grove has many Douglas firs, about the same age as the nation, so they are massive, and have signs on them with the name and state of someone at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The area was named in 1987, the 200th anniversary.  I saw a John Dickinson from Delaware and wondered whether the high school in Wilmington was named for him.  It was.  I scouted a basketball game there one night, 55 years ago, my senior year in high school, when an injured player from our team spent the season as a scout and asked me to help him.  We’ve been good friends ever since.

It was nice out in the woods. Nobody spoke about the election, not a word.  The vine maples were shedding yellow leaves, when they weren’t slapping us in the face when we tried to cut them out.  Vine maples are small, but more than one guy has said his worst injuries out here were caused by them.  We had to use our arms and legs, logs as pry bars to move some of the cut logs, and I spent part of the afternoon on my knees crawling 30 feet, cleaning up enough branch debris so the sawyer could get in to cut.  As we were walking back to the vehicles at about 3, it started to rain. Perfect timing.  The drive down was almost magical in the rain, trees ablaze in color on both sides of the road, getting dark, the needed autumn rains here.

I needed that day, because I feel like I neither know nor understand America any more. I shouldn’t be surprised. I was alive during the McCarthy era, although I don’t remember, “Have you no shame?”  words that are every bit as relevant today as they were then.  We have endured the last few years with people who have no shame.  Nothing is sacred, and while political correctness has its flaws, there ought to be some verbal lines people in power simply do not cross.

I remember the Civil Rights workers (“outside agitators”) who were murdered and buried at another Philadelphia, in Mississippi.  Here in Oregon, outside agitators came in with guns and took over a wildlife refuge.  Got away with it legally, too, with only one dead, when he tried to run a police blockade and pulled a gun.  Whole thing was streamed.  I remember “activist judges” being decried by The Other Side, before the Supreme Court stopped a vote count, called corporations people, and other courts started practicing medicine.

We had Spiro Agnew, the first in a line of vice presidents so bad one wanted the president to survive: Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, and Mike Pence, although Quayle now thinks the president should concede. Agnew was the one who coined the “Silent Majority,” which was believed to truly be in favor of the policies promulgated by the Nixon Administration.. 

No, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all by our assault on the environment by James Watt and a host of others, reaching a climax now, when there are oil leases in ANWR, and they now want to log the Tongass. This is insane, but perhaps a majority of the country doesn’t agree with me.

The flag has long been co-opted in that if one wearing it or flying it, especially in the bed of a pickup, he (yes, he) is patriotic, even if he didn’t serve in uniform, let alone overseas in unfriendly territory, doesn’t know the words of the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, can’t name the thirteen colonies, the first state, or hadn’t been to even half the states.  

I didn’t like Nixon, and I was glad to see him go, that August day in 1974, before I returned to the night shift at the Denver General ER.  But Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, and back then there was bipartisan legislation. A few Supreme Court justices nominees got turned down, and stupid things said, like Sen. Roman Huruska’s famous words supporting mediocrity, but by and large the Senate was an important deliberative body. 

Now, we have a rare few senators who think the president should concede, while the majority leader feels he should take all this purported concern about the vote to court and it isn’t clear if the Secretary of State really thinks there will be a second term. The President won’t tell the GSA head that Mr. Biden should now have his own office and get morning presidential briefings, as Mr. Obama did for Mr. Trump and Mr. Bush did for Mr. Obama.  

The guys in camo have already demonstrated in Salem, probably with a few more outside agitators, but I hope they don’t really think that Biden’s nearly 400,000 vote win here should be contested or any of the now six million plus margin of victory Biden had on the west coast and the five plus million nationally,  So far.

I am trying to find humor where I can. Knowing that there is now an unofficial unofficial (not a typo) Fraud Street run (to go with Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run) from Four Seasons Landscaping to the Four Seasons Hotel, is good for a laugh.  

As is McConnell’s saying it was a good election for Republicans, even though he thinks the presidential part of it should be decided in court.

As were the protestors shouting “Stop the Count” in Detroit and Philadelphia, even as they were shouting “Count the Votes” in Phoenix.  Can’t you guys make up your mind?

Part of me is worried that the craziness will intensify, but nobody seems to be counting on Covid’s increase to up the ante.  Maybe the current leaders aren’t concerned, but the people lined up in their cars at Autzen Stadium getting tested for it are. One in 70 in North Dakota is currently infected, 1 in 16 has tested positive, and Covid positive nurses are allowed to care for patients now.  A major hospital in Idaho was recently on diversion, and we don’t yet know how many long haul Covid patients there will be in the country, let alone what exactly they have, or whether it is treatable.  Right now, the country is giving up. I’ve got to be more careful, even in the woods.

During this time, the president said that doctors were making a lot of money off Covid.  Considering that many physicians have had to stop elective surgery, change their whole practice about seeing patients, and hospitals furloughed nurses, there may be those making money off the disease, but they aren’t wearing PPE and risking their lives.

Thursday, we go back up the North Fork to do trail work.  It may rain.  We will get wet and muddy, logging out the trail and repairing tread. Bridges are out, crossings may be dicey, and there are over 200 logs to take out. It will take months to fix.   I’m looking forward to it. It’s November up here, and maybe things are starting to be what they are supposed to be.  

One can hope.

Cut through, then push this 400+kg log to the side of the trail

This is a several hour job to fix. Nature reclaims her land. Most of these trails need to be cleared every other year; if not cleared in a decade, they may well be lost. In some places, that may not be a bad thing.