Friday, September 29, 2006

A wildfire started this afternoon east of Ft Green. There was a fire almost a month ago in the same neigborhood, but that one started in the evening as a result of careless campers. I don't know what the origins of this one are.

Update: Current information from the Utah Fire Info's site.

Monday, September 25, 2006

As autumn slowly prepares the way for winter's snow in the high country, i get a hankering to see cottonwoods in the lower deserts to the east of our valley. They're the last trees in the area to lose their leaves, so they're usually the final show of summer as she slips south.

On the way up the canyon to get to the desert on the other side, we saw the remains of the season's first real snowfall. The color hasn't yet hit its stride in the mountains, so that's a sure bet that the low cottonwoods haven't been touched by fall. The progress of the seasons is a good thing to watch all along the trip, nevertheless. Word has it that there was at least six to eight inches of snow on the summits when it fell, and that there are areas where four feet has run into drifts up high. These trees still have snow on their branches four days after the storms; that's an indication of the winds and how cold it's been for the past few days.
The fish were fun to watch on the stream on the other side of the mountain. It was three in the afternoon, but in the shade they were breaking the water with a vigor usually reserved for the first and last light of the day. We had some fun with dry flies for a time, and the color displayed by the medium-sized browns was a joy to see.

We didn't have much time in the desert this time due to challenged navigation and questionable exploratory decisions, but to see the red rock, sage and cottonwoods is always worth the time and effort.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Drie and the kids made a fine showing at the first Spring City Arts Festival yesterday, another silly excuse to invite countless shifty-eyed Wasatch Front social climbers to covet our little town and all fleeting blessings associated therewith.
The kids offered hand-drawn, cut-out and origami-bedecked bookmarks, hand-painted giftwrap and all sort of beautiful handiwork for ridiculously small prices, while Drie and I gave away free sourdough starts by the bucketfull and tried to get someone to buy a small collections of essays that we put together with some of our local friends. The wee tome, entitled Modern Pioneering: An Impractical Digest of Economic Disobedience and Cooperative Self-Realization, didn't end up the belle of the ball.
Though the book didn't exactly sell like the pancake-fodder that we were giving away for free, I offer it to you here, in a Word Document form, for your perusal.
By the way, don't get stuck on the long-winded title. I was just having fun with the bourgeois crowd at the festival; no wonder it didn't sell.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hugo Chavez vaults Chomsky's two year old book into the bestsellers list. Article here. I don't know what good any of this will do, but the subversive synergy in and of itself warms the cockles of my shriveled little heart.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The first frost was hard enough to halt further progress on the various squashes, corn and a few peppers, but the brussels sprouts and most of the tarp and blanket covered tomatoes weathered it well. Here's to continued cherry tomatoes well into Septemeber!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A case for the Curmudgeon’s view

As the morning clouds lifted from the mountains above SpringTowne this morning, one could see evidence of the overnight seasonal changes. Amidst the wisps of cloud and mist was a layer of snow, the first snow of the autumn that will be inaugurated later this week.
Change is constant in this world so completely dominated by business interests and power play. As the world economy grinds as mill grist the faces of those busy trying to survive, we in the mountain valleys off the main arteries of the west are caught in the latest in capitalism's constant search for expansion.
Many new people have come to Sanpete over the past five or six years looking for a place to rest from the harried mess that has been made of our society. Many come here, having heard of cheap real estate or outbuildings unused by the natives that can be bought and spruced up for peanuts to endow instant cachet and hip rusticity to the person with a little disposable income or will to go a little bit more into debt to the banker.
Most of this species does not stay here year-round; in fact most do not even stay around here week-long for any period. They herald the benefits of the small-town atmosphere, the clean air, and the opportunity to "get away from it all." Then they market their wares, art or intellect somewhere off to the north or wherever else they have opportunity or another residence, spreading the news of the affordable Mecca in the mountains of far-off Mormon Utah.
The truth is that they can't stand being here all the time. Sanpete’s not an easy place to live, with brief but hot, dry summers and irrigation restrictions for those without huge inheritances of water or the money to buy from those who hawk shares. There are also long, cold winters with very little to break up what after the long months becomes to the mind windswept sage and expanses of trees and fields bereft of life.
The long winters are work to those without money to fix up the old houses. Winter is a time of psychological and emotional endurance for those without money or another residence with which to break up the intense anticipation of spring and new tasks set by the progression of seasons.
Nevertheless, this change has come to Sanpete with droves of new automobiles and shiny, fashionable faces gazing excitedly from their cars upon the allure of restored antique houses and the promise of those unrestored. Those for sale by Sanpeters who have given up on own hopes of a simpler life away from these devourers of milk and honey. But these devourers have been invited by what we have and sometimes don’t appreciate.
This will bring ruin upon all of our houses, eventually.
Life isn't easy down here in the high desert valleys. There are those who have made a conscious choice to commit to community, the land and necessarily simpler ways. But that is changing with the newer immigrants to Sanpete. The new way is the way of money and convenience, and this is slowly seeping its way into our valley.
The only way out of such change is a sort of ruin, the ruin that comes of unsustainable expansion into fragile resources, principle and the lifeblood of simple people's lives.
I don't pretend to know or even understand the plight of the truly exploited or displaced, but I see the methods of the same machinery of privilege steamrolling the meek at work here in SpringTowne.
Not only does it make it hard for the principled idealist to live, it makes it downright frightening to walk our neighborhood sometimes.
When will people learn? Marketing a lifestyle begets just what it sows:
The whirlwind and an extinction of the lifestyle it sold downstream. That sort of change is never good.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Garrison Keillor holds forth splendidly on the gap in reason between current national leadership and real future needs.
I'm sitting here, typing away to the sounds of Dylan’s latest effort. He's a piece from the album called Working Man's Blues 2.

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak
Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see
While I'm listening to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Well, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag 'em all down to hell and I'll stand 'em at the wall
I'll sell 'em to their enemies
I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come
In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can feel a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the frontline
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, and they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime
I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always
Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with your words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you've heard

n you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you
All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance
I got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Why does it seem that the majority in our social order are drugged and working to get to the top of the deluded heap through acts of desperation and calumny? What is achieved through the games that we play?
Some people shine with an eerie glow of self-assurance while silently scheming the next act of showmanship to sell themselves to their higher-ups as worthy of promotion and more power in the game, while others struggle against scheme until they finally succumb to whatever is their greatest personal strength and most anemic affliction in the face of the powers and currents in our society.
The system we live in mirrors humanity's halting progress, with each struggle etching its way on the rules, piling ethical weakness upon strength. Each individual is much the same, with an added dimension: each is surrounded by others struggling just as mightily to find security and happiness, the strength of the collective behind every individual's acts, for good or ill, with edification or destruction the result.
People fight against what they see as wicked or wrong, almost viscerally and instinctually. They do so from a position that they see as strength, whether that is godly, intellectual or simply moral. Humans rally around common goals through war, religion, crusade, cause or revenge. Those who rally are bestowed with a feeling of justification and strength as the goal benefits from the strength generated. It doesn't matter whether that goal is truly correct or right, it just matters that the goal accumulates power in numbers and opinion.
Throughout history, the weak in mind, morals, perception, numbers, or finances have been perceived by others as 'wrong' and often, 'evil.' The fault of villainy has been pinned on all manner of weakness since the beginning of time. The Jews had their scapegoats, Christians their blasphemers, Muslims their heretics and secularists their hopeless fools. The strength of purpose infused by the agreed application of the label of 'other' at some level has benefited nearly every association, whether with a membership of millions or of a person dealing with one’s own self. It’s an inherent tactic of basal human psychology.
It doesn't matter whether there is a moral, ethical or godly imperative; the scapegoat loses strength as the majority group becomes stronger. That sort of strength often gains momentum unless it arouses an opposing force able to rally opinion and force that breaks the wave of destruction against the 'other.' It's that simple.
Even in our virtuous republic, the working man remains weak in the social order until he realizes that work doesn't beget power. It only enriches powerbrokers over him while they dole out tokens of recreation and diversion. If he breaks free of the system somehow to create a separate peace instead of selling out or buying in, he only calls upon himself the wrath of those who were formerly his taskmasters who label him 'insane,' 'delusional,' 'rabble-rouser,' or plain wrong.
If such a person accumulates followers or comrades, the full force of the majority is called upon to condemn the outsiders as a cult, as dangerous mavericks or troublemakers. If the formerly powerless person or group feels threatened and begins to amass monetary and martial power and postures to defend, law and government often become active in condemnation of the outsider. If the situation escalates a bit more in either camp, the outsider elicits the most unmitigated scapegoat labels of our time, correctly or not, of subversive or "terrorist."
Why must this be? Why do so many people who cannot abide this world's ways resort to disengagement, crime, and violence or fall victim to isolation, sadness and suicide? Why must we, who call ourselves enlightened and rational act in such a benighted and irrational way as to carry on the foolish traditions of our ancestors in scapegoating those who might lead us out of our most savage and selfish ways? The answer is, I reckon, a blowin' in the wind before our own eyes. History can be our best teacher, and change our best friend, unless we wish to remain in our worst of destructive behaviors, condemning that which might lead us to better ways.