CONTROLLING TRUTH

Personally I don’t feel we control the Truth. Truth is real and something we respond to. If the Truth is that it is cold I don a jacket. Yet some think Truth is something they control. They feel that if they control the media, and the media says it is warm, people won’t need jackets and won’t notice they are shivering, when they obey those in control.

This never works. It always results in social breakdowns such as the one that we are witnessing in Venezuela. For a government “plan” to work it must follow the Truth. If it strays from honesty all sorts of odd “bad luck” seems to occur that torpedoes the “plan”.

For example, a former president of the USA had a “plan” to take control of energy production, and predicted government control would result in a “necessary” increase in the price of gasoline and heating oil, but what came about was a totally unexpected increase in the availability of oil and gas, and crashing prices, which ruined the former president’s “plan”, (which I suspect was more about government control than about allowing Truth to control.) This unexpected turn of events (brought about by fracking) may have been “bad luck” for those who thirsted for control, but was “good luck” for those who thirst for freedom.

When the Jews were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave Joshua a bit of advice about following the Truth:

” The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. “

It can be frightening to stand up for the Truth in situations where it is politically incorrect, and you may suffer scorn or lose money, but such losses are actually gain when it means you have amazing Power at your side.

Those who think they control Truth often are in for an embarrassing surprise:

Truth is like a fire-hose. You have to grip it firmly or you wind up drenched.

Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you.

MOAS ARE NOT EXTINCT!

The people of New Zealand will be surprised to learn of Moa in New Hampshire, and I can only explain my discovery by stating that the older captains of ships tend to be an eccentric lot, and, in order to prove that the tales they told of exotic creatures in foreign lands were not creations of their own fancy, they would bring specimens home with them.

Critics will say it was impossible for Moa to be brought to New Hampshire, as the Moa went extinct before the English arrived in either New Hampshire or New Zealand. To that I say, “Get off your high horse, Englishman.” (I am for the most part English, by the way.)

White, English men are hogging far too much of the blame these days, taking all the credit for all bad things that ever happened. It is unfair. Don’t other people ever get to feel guilty about anything?

The extinction of the Moa is one thing the English cannot take credit for (so far.) It apparently was entirely the result of the indigenous people, the Maori. They apparently arrived in New Zealand around 1280, and slaughtered all eleven species of New Zealand’s huge birds in as little as a hundred years. After all, when a man’s hungry, he’s hungry.File:Moa mock hunt.jpgThe next question is, how did the huge birds get to New Hampshire? The answer is obvious. Who transported huge animals in the 1300’s? It had to be the Chinese,  who built huge ships and may have transported enormous giraffe to China as early as the 1200’s, and certainly did so in the 1300’s.

 

The first settlers of Boston reported a huge rotted hulk of a ship across the Charles River from Boston Neck, “The Somerville Hulk”, which they supposed was Spanish because it was so much larger than any English or Dutch ship of that time. I assert it was a huge Chinese junk full of refugees that landed in the 1400’s, containing, among other oddities, some Moa. It is the Chinese influence that explains why the Massachusetts tribe was different from surrounding tribes, more prosperous and thickly settled, and also may genetically explain why they were so much more susceptible to the great pandemic of 1618.

When 20,000 Massachusetts died of the pandemic, and then 20,000 Puritans arrived to replace them in the next 20 years, the people in charge of the Moa fled to the hills of New Hampshire. Moa have been hiding in our hills ever since, the carefully guarded secret of locals who do not trust “flatlanders”, but the recent heavy rains of Hurricane Florence caused some Moa to be driven out of their normal habitat, and I found evidence of late season nesting at my Childcare.

 

These are nests of one of the smaller species, called the “Lawn Moa”.

Now I just need to convince my wife this grass is the protected habitat of an endangered species, and I should not cut it any more.

Wish me luck.

NOT LOCAL —Deluge Camping—

My life is so tragic that I used to schedule two hours first thing every morning to cry my eyes out, but that got old after a while, so I decided to stop hanging around with poets. It was more fun to look back and laugh. So I suppose that makes me a humorist.

One tragic thing about my youth was that my Mom didn’t like camping. My Dad did a foolish thing, which was to take her camping on their honeymoon. He thought he might open her eyes to the beauty of nature. It poured. Years later, when he was a little wiser, he took her to the Caribbean. She stepped on a poisonous sea-urchin. Come to think of it, maybe Nature didn’t like my mother. When my Dad took her out mackerel-jigging she caught a sea-gull. It squawked and flapped about her face at the end of a hand-line, and she indignantly concluded only fools found joy in mackerel fishing. Nor did she like anyone finding joy in her discomfiture, but Dad did a foolish thing, which was to laugh.

After the divorce I was very careful to avoid the topic of camping. I was a sort of barefoot, suburban Huckleberry Finn, illegally fishing and skinny-dipping in the water supply of Harvard professors, and was briefly arrested at age eleven, but the officer had compassion and didn’t tell Mom. I had many other wonderful adventure that I didn’t dare share with Mom (at least until a sort of statute of limitations had passed) for I had concluded there were two types of people in the world. There were those who didn’t like camping…

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…and those who did.

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Back in my days as a bachelor and bum I did a lot of camping, for a tent was cheaper than an apartment. In 1987 I camped from May 1 to October 23. This presented me with a bit of a dilemma, for if I didn’t write my Mom she’d worry, (and I usually couldn’t afford a phone call.) The letters I then produced were masterpieces in the fine art of censorship. Every day camping was a sunny day, and rain was never mentioned.

After I surprised everyone by marrying and settling down, I got a surprise of my own, for it turned out my wife’s mother did like camping. I didn’t know that was legal for Moms to do, but she’s gone right ahead and done it.

As a young mother of five with a hot home, too poor to afford a summer house, she had moved to a campground by a lake each summer, perhaps to escape the heat or perhaps to escape vacuuming the house. Her husband would commute to work from the campground, and the kids rode their bicycles about and fished and swam to their hearts content. They don’t seem to remember any rain. The mother didn’t know what she was starting. It became a yearly event.

This year the lady, in her eighties, sat back and happily regarded her daughter and three sons, their four spouses, ten grandchildren, four grandchildren-in-laws, two step-grandchildren, two step-grandchildren-in-laws, six great-grandchildren, and two step-great-grand children, and likely thought about the ones who couldn’t make it this year.

It rained, of course. It seems to rain every year, but we count on the rain, and one of the first things we do is stretch out tarps between trees. I am proud to state I was the one who started this great tradition in 1991, and as the years have passed it has become a sort of art, as we’ve learned by making all sorts of mistakes. A tarp can turn into a spinnaker in a strong wind, and snap ropes, and also a tarp also can turn into a massive udder if  it catches rain and sags. Now we have learned all sorts of remedies, one of the best of which is to get old, so you can sit back and watch others clamber about in trees.

Only once did I arise this year, as the wise old man,  to show them the trick of tying a rope to a hammer and tossing it up over a branch, so you can skip the climbing, (which I didn’t learn until I was pushing fifty and getting tired of bringing an aluminum extension ladder camping, and saw a friend who was lazy demonstrate the hammer trick).  This year no one had a hammer so they used a hatchet. It added risk to the enterprise.

In the end we were ready for the rain. Here’s my area:

and here’s the main gathering area:

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In the old days we only had tents, and looked down our noses at RV’s, but a son and brother-in-law have gotten soft, and I must admit I don’t mind a bit of softness myself, though I can’t afford a RV. We also only cooked over wood fires in the old days, and while we still do a bit of that (under the high part of the tarp), the younger folk haul in all sorts of smokers and newfangled propane gadgets. I don’t complain, when faced with a spread like this:

I’m not sure we could have done as well if the winds had been high. Around five years ago we gathered in the gusty deluge of a former tropical storm, and as I recall we put off the gorging until the next day, but this year the feast was prepared despite downpours. It was interesting to see the smaller girls incorporate the water coming off the tarp into their play.

My wife strongly believes that, to acclimatize grandchildren to camping, you need to break them in early.

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We’ve been camping in the rain so long, nearly thirty years now, that we’ve watched an entire generation go from being this small to being stronger and richer than we are. I like to just sit back and contemplate the passage of time, but did get up and take part in a game of whiffle-ball when the rain let up for a bit, and now rue my brief ambition.  Within hours I was walking funny. But the former boys are now strapping young men who don’t stiffen up so quickly, and who itch for challenges, such as jumping into rivers from high places and being carried downstream.

This river is the Ashoelot, a geologically interesting backwater that flows down a channel made by a glacial flood. Usually it is fairly shallow,  but all the rain had its waters rising.Camping 9 IMG_7106

 

When we first arrived my dog L.C. (short for “Lost Cause”), (Animal Rights Activists think I’m calling her “Elsie”), had a great time annoying herons and geese on the river, which was a little higher than usual.

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But the clear, tea-colored water had risen three feet and turned to coffee by the second day.

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By the third day it had risen three more feet and gone dark again, and had the spin-drift suds that sometimes indicate pollution, but can also be natural, in swampy rivers.  The campground owner said the water was as high as he’d ever seen it. Driftwood shifted, with its colonies of greenery and crimson blooms.

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The men were smart enough to know you can’t jump in at the usual place, if you are unsure if driftwood has moved in, so they sent my nine-year-old  grandson down to swim around and see if he could feel any branches with his toes. The cheerful, young, eager-to-please chump fellow checked out the entire area under the embankment, which usually is around twelve feet tall. He said it was all clear. Then they asked him if the water seemed colder, and he shrugged innocently and said, “Maybe a little.”

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I wish I could show you the video of whqat followed. You see six big brawny men dash to the edge of the bank and leap whooping out into the river, make a tremendous splash, and then their heads emerge and they all simultaneously register the fact the water is twenty degrees colder. Not so manly, all of a sudden. As they drifted downstream you could have heard the shrieking a mile away.  (I looked suspiciously at my grandson. He was smiling noncommittally.)

Despite the fact they had disgraced themselves, in terms of machismo, some of the women wanted pictures of the young men “for a calendar.”

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Himph! No one asked me if I’d pose for a calendar. And I tell you, I’ve taken on all four of those fellows and whupped them with one hand behind my back……twenty years ago.

As the evening came on I sat in the light of the campfire listening to the patter of the rain on the tarp overhead, and the deluge became a flood of memory. I listened to the murmurs of conversation, snatches of laughter, and strumming of a guitar and thought about what a fool I was thirty years ago, when I decided I had God’s plan for me all figured out. I was camping all alone in the New Mexico desert, and expected to be single all the days of my life.

In fact I managed to convince myself that being alone was likely for the best.  Spirituality is all about renouncing the things of the world, and it would be far easier to renounce everything if I didn’t have anything. Just as it is far easier to be a teetotaler if you have no booze, it would be easier to be celibate without a babe. My “bad karma” was actually “good karma”.

Not so fast. (Though it did happen with astonishing speed.) In fact, when I told a spiritual friend I had married a mother-of-three I didn’t try to explain it, beyond saying, “I don’t know what happened.” Karma is like that. Just when you think you have things figured out you learn you’re just a chip on a mighty river.

It is also a little amusing how “good karma” becomes “bad karma”. When my wife was clobbered by morning sickness and I had three kids to care for it occurred to me that “family values” might not be all that they were cut out to be. Not that I had any desire to camp alone again. But I understood the irony of the Springsteen “Hungry Heart” lyrics:

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back,

There are times when leaving all worldly possessions has a definite appeal.  The Australian poet Francis Brabazon  describes a man who came to Meher Baba and offered to lay all his worldly possessions at his feet, namely, a wife and six kids.

However when Jesus said, “Leave all and follow me”, he didn’t mean just your “bad karma”. All means all. To be true follower you have to give up your “good karma”. Yikes. That is not so easy, when the kids who seemed like “bad karma” grow up and delight you by being “good karma” in a campfire’s wavering glow.

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It is no easy thing to truly give all to God. We are all addicts. But it helps when you reflect on how bankrupt you are without the gifts you have received from God. (I’m not sure where atheists think their talents and “luck” comes from.) It helps even more to believe God is love, and even “bad karma” holds compassion, though it may be a blessing very deeply disguised.

As a cancer survivor I know even accursed cancer can be a blessing, for it makes every day a treasure. One lives praying the doctor doesn’t deliver the bad news, “it’s back”. It is as if you are looking  around for the last time. Habits people have, which once annoyed you, become strangely endearing.

It is oddly ambiguous that, when we think we have control of our lives, we are full of complaining, but when we lose control we experience an overwhelming gratitude. Perhaps that explains (to some) why “leave all and follow me” is not really loss, but gain.

AVOIDING CIVIL WAR

This seems to be a time when it is important to stay calm and not to be provoked, for the inhabitants of the so-called “swamp” in Washington D.C. actually have no interest in preserving the peace. Why should they? Peace would involve exposure, for peaceful people have honest discussions, and honesty would expose a lot of corruption, which is how the name “swamp” was earned.

The corrupt have backed themselves into a corner, and therefore many will not do the spiritual thing, which is to publicly confess their wrong-doing. For if they were spiritual they would not have been corrupted in the first place. Therefore many will do the unspiritual thing when cornered, which is to fight like a cornered rat.

The thing that always amazes me is the ability the corrupt have to deny their own corruption. They often are oblivious of the way their greed has led them astray, even when it is blatantly obvious to others. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2)

In the case of communism the greed is justified in three ways. First, the highest spirituality is dismissed as “the opiate of the masses”, and atheism is put forward as being more pragmatic. Second, coveting what others own is justified as “sharing”, in some ways like Christians shared what they owned in the book of Acts, but in other ways by brute force, at the point of a gun, like a bank robber. Third, dishonesty is made to look positive because “the ends justify the means”.

The dishonesty always seemed most vile to me, especially when it involves using others, and laughing at them behind their backs. To use another as a “useful idiot” always seemed like a violation of trust to me. Furthermore the person most likely to be fooled is the person doing the tricking, because procrastination is a way we mortals have of never doing what we promise ourselves we will do “someday.” Therefore “the ends justify the means” is like a person buying cigarettes so he can seriously think about planning to quit; (the person will never quit by smoking, but it placates his uneasy conscience to “plan“.) Lastly, the “means“ get meaner and meaner, because the greed for power gets greater and greater. Stalin may have meant well, but he killed off more and more “partners“, erasing them from public pictures until he alone was pictured, for that was his “means” of effective control, good governance, and order. He was proof that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

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Our Founding Fathers were well aware of how power corrupts, which is why they were so careful to devise a constitution that shares power between three branches of government, with checks and balances. Some in Washington want to escape the checks and balances, because it seems to obstruct efficient governance. Therefore they speak of the constitution as being an “evolving” document, which is just a way of trying to get around its constraints. They don’t want to be constrained, because they feel they know best, and others are not as wise as they are.

This is how corruption begins. One loses respect for being open and honest and discussing things with others in a respectful manner, and resorts to some form of dishonesty and disrespect. Rather than arriving at a decision based on higher Truth, back-room deals are made, involving bribes of one sort or another. Rather than what is best for all concerned, the focus becomes narrow: “What’s in this for me?”

When such rot sets in our nation is designed to expose it. A free press is suppose to be part of that exposure, but in our current crisis the press was purchased by the elite and all but emasculated. Were it not for the unexpected blooming of the internet in the past twenty years the free press would be dead. As it is the public became aware of how bad the corruption in Washington was becoming in the nick of time, and now a desperate battle has begun.

This is a battle between Truth and deceivers. The deceivers do not want to give up all that deceit has illicitly “earned” them. They think they know how the game is played, when in fact they have broken countless rules. They want to continue to play as they have played, unaware that they have broken so many rules they have created a sort of anarchy, and have undermined their own foundations, and are sawing off the very branch they are perched upon. If they studied history at all they would see that, if they “win”, they are likely to inherit horrors as bad as, or even worse than, the horrors they fear they’ll face if they “lose”, and have to give up all the perks of their corruption.

One attribute of the corrupt, and also of communism, is that there is a movement away from true sharing of power. It involves the mentality of all-or-nothing. Communism allows no other party besides the communist party, and corruption allows no alternative as well. It is a narrowing down of thought, a diminishing of the mind.

Because of this, communism prefers violence to civil discourse. It wants no checks and no balances. In order to eradicate opposition it seeks to “purge” differing views, and dislikes individuality. Individuality is abhorred because it differs, whether it differs as a person, or a family, or a community, or a state, or a nation. Communism seeks a “multiculturalism” that abolishes all nations, and therefore all cultures. All the talk about “respecting diversity” actually disrespects differences, when you look hard at what is actually stated. In the end what is wanted is not a cultured people, but culture-less masses.

A cultured people prefer to use civil procedures, to becoming a rabble that riots. The corrupt prefer a riot, and encourage riotous behavior, because if things get out of hand they may seize power in the name of “restoring order”, whereas civil procedure would expose their corruption and face them with reform.

Therefore it is important to stay calm and not be provoked. When faced by useful idiots chanting nonsense, point out the nonsense quietly. Over and over and over again. For many innocents have not thought all that deeply about what they do, and are largely being loyal to a cause. And one thing about the loyal is this: Once they discover they have been lied to, and are being used, and are laughed at behind their backs, they flip sides with astonishing alacrity.

Lastly, keep your sense of humor even when things look grim.

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LOCAL VIEW –Reason To Hope–

For a while the long range forecast was suggesting south winds would surge this far north, and temperatures would touch 70°F (21°C) this weekend, but now the forecast for Sunday is for snow.

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This sort of crashing disappointment is hard to bear, but I always turn my eyes north to Canada. They suffer worse winters and later springs. Surely they know how to handle such despair.

Yes the answer is to make a joke.

LOCAL VIEW –Grumpy Humor #287–

This appeared on a Facebook page called “Legal Insurrection”, and then on the “Ice Age Now” site. Apparently it is someone’s wry joke that is now going viral. Trump fixes Global Warming 29790811_10156289670494486_177478172852994533_n

So far April in the USA has been 4 1/2 degrees below normal in the USA, which is the coldest April since 1982. Here is a map from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at the Weatherbell Site showing how much below normal it was yesterday.

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A slug of Gulf of Mexico heat will try to punch north, likely creating big storms and tornadoes down south towards the end of the week, but I doubt it will make it this far north. We just shiver and shudder and wait for May.

LOCAL VIEW –Yo-yo Spring–

We get one day of glorious sunshine, and everyone walks about with silly smiles pasted across their faces, and then we get six days of cold rain, whereupon there is a lot of sulking. In other words, it’s your typical New Hampshire Spring, culminating with the appearance of the most affectionate creature known to man: black flies. They absolutely adore humans. Humans are mean, and do not return the love. Or perhaps we are more spiritual, and love what cannot be seen: Namely the wind. (Because the wind blows the blasted black flies away.)

The effect of this is to make people manic-depressive. Oops. Sorry. I forgot that scientific studies have refuted the psuedoscience, and proven there is no such thing as manic-depressive.

The effect of this is to make people bipolar. (Scientific studies of bipolarism are not yet finalized).

Even ancient people understood this, with celebrations beginning with April Fools Day and culminating with traipsing about a May Pole. Of course, now we are more modern and wise, so instead we have military parades celebrating the mass murder of people who work hard, succeed, and become rich, and we throw confetti for communists. (We’ve become so much wiser).

To celebrate this madcap  moodiness I was going to write a poem starting, “Spring is like a yo-yo…

Indeed children at our childcare bounce up and down like kangaroos, only they also bounce off walls, which kangaroos avoid as a rule, and therefore I get hopping to move them outside, even if it is pouring. And it has rained a lot. You might think I’d get scolded for cruelty to children, but my wife fortunately subscribes to the old Swedish motto, “There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing”, so I don’t even get in trouble for getting kids out in the mud.

A couple days ago, while watching the human-kangaroos jump dead center into every mud puddle they could find, I began to think the manic moodiness has a reason: It was getting a lot of accumulated poison out of their systems. Likely winter builds up all sorts of crud in bodies, and a good work-out flushes it out of the system. Even the goats, despite their age, were gamboling in the pasture like lambs, and eating lots of greens, which also cleanses the system.

The smaller boys do not gambol; they attack me from every angle, slugging and tackling and head-butting. Or perhaps this too is a gamble, because one of these days I might punch them back, (as a way of enraging the state inspectors and watch-dogs, and consequently getting retired from my childcare business), (Yippie!) but for the time being I just prissily say, “No, no. Naughty, naughty. It is not politically correct to maim your teacher.” I say this to them as they lie looking up at me, stretched-out flat in a puddle. They are in that position because, through there may be laws against belting children, they have not yet made a law against my ducking and dodging, and, when children attack from all angles, I make a Spanish Matador look like a clod. Meanwhile I am thinking of ways to put all their energy to good use.

I had just hit upon the idea of digging a ditch and planting potatoes, and likely was looking up and thanking God for the stroke of genius, which explains why I wasn’t looking down, and got hit by the charging child. The small monster head-butted me at roughly twenty miles an hour just to the left of my solar plexus, (over my operation scar), and I thought it might flush a lot out of my system in a hurry.

But such is spring. Even the flooding creeks, streams and rivers are flushing refuse downstream. I looked at the boy and said nothing, so I can’t be arrested or charged, but the child did look worried, as I decided “Spring is like a yo-yo…” simply wouldn’t do for my poem, and decided upon, “Spring is like a colonoscopy…

You will be thrilled to learn I never got around to writing that poem. I was too exhausted from planting potatoes. I thought we’d only manage to plant three or four, and then the kids would all start whining, “Can’t we stop?”, but they really got into a groove, (or trench). They wanted to dig, dig, dig, and I had to break up fights over who would next hack with the hoe. They were tireless. We planted all the Pontiac Reds (that ripen early for summer potato salads), the Yukon Golds, Kennebecs and Katahdens (for late summer and autumn mashed potatoes), the Burbank Russets (for winter baking), and the Peruvian Purples (for weirdness). By the end I was whining, “Can’t we stop?” but the merciless slave-drivers shouted, “No! Onward! Onward you lazy wimp!”Yo 1 IMG_4782

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I tried to take a break by pointing out meal-worms and millipedes and mites, but the only thing that slowed some them was a bright crimson mite, and even that was merely for a moment.

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Then the other mites drove me on.

So that explains why I am hunched over holding my back in a manner befitting a man of my advanced years. My shuffling manner of walking, on the other hand, involves a hike. I thought hiking with the older children might be safer, as they tend to dawdle. I was wrong.

We headed off to look at a tree the beavers had nearly-but-not-quite gnawed down last summer. It was amazing that the tree didn’t fall over. But perhaps our beavers are under achievers.

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I wanted to see if winter winds had knocked the tree down. When we arrived we saw a snapped-off hemlock’s top had not only flattened the tree, but buried it.

Now, the hemlock may not have been a big hemlock for the west coast, but it was big for the east; I couldn’t get my arms more than halfway around it, yet it was chopped down by little carpenter ants and by a woodpecker who was after those ants.

Now by now you are probably rolling your eyes, and think I must be pulling your leg about beavers that can’t cut down trees, and woodpeckers that can, but I tell you in our neck of the woods our woodpeckers are not those cute little birds that go “tippity-tip-tap” like Broadway dancers. They are a foot and a half tall with wings nearly three feet across, and give a crazy yell like a jungle monkey,  “Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook!” If you happen to be climbing a tree and one comes around the trunk and you are eye to eye with it,  you arrive at a swift judgement: “This dude is crazy. He has the eyes of someone who hit his head into a tree sixty thousand times.”

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I tell you our woodpeckers are much tougher than your woodpeckers, and if you don’t believe me take a look at this tree:

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I  was getting a bit tired and figured I could scare the kids into heading back if I told them any woodpecker that could do this sort of damage was likely nine feet tall and ate small children instead of ants. The kids were terrified.Yo 5 IMG_4763

Obviously I needed a different strategy, so I whined, “Can’t we go back?”  But no, they insisted, “No! Onward!  Onward you lazy wimp!”

I tried to discourage them by saying we were going beyond the point where kids from the Childcare had ever ventured before. It didn’t work. There is something about the spring that awakes the Danial Boone in people, and rather than discouraging them I only challenged them. Pioneering became abruptly attractive, even to kids who ordinarily whine about walking six feet to hang up a coat. Without asking permission they went plunging off into the puckerbrush, and I had to follow, because I’m paid to keep an eye on them, but I did have misgivings, because a couple of the kids ordinarily go “eek” at a mouse and “ick” at a mudpuddle, (and Danial Boone hardly ever did that). I knew they might change their minds.

Also we were venturing into a landscape not even many adults venture into any more, (though in the old days a few might seek native trout in the swampy thickets.) It is a flat area filled in by glacial sand that around nine little brooks brought down steep slopes from a small mountain, in an area where all nine brooks come together like the fingers of a nine-fingered hand. Beavers then built a most amazing series of curving and branching dams, in an attempt to control nine brooks, and dug canals to connect the brooks, and, over the ten-thousand or so year since the glaciers retreated, they collected a deep layer of mud behind their dams. Occasionally the beavers had to leave, after they ate every tree in sight, but the first trees that grew back were the birch and alder and aspen they like, so they’d move back and rebuild their dams.  Currently the area is largely abandoned, with only a couple beavers around, and the water level is lower in most places and trees are starting to grow back. Even though the dams are rotting away they still form walkways through the canals and areas of mire, and the kids had a fine time exploring deeper and deeper into the swamp….

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….but then the rain started to get heavier, and one girl didn’t like it. The other four didn’t mind the rain, but commiserated with their friend, and all turned on me with accusing eyes. “This is all your fault!” they stated.

“My fault!?” I exclaimed. “I wanted to go back! You were the ones who wanted to go out into this quagmire!”

“Yes, but we are young and irresponsible. You are suppose to know better!”

“Ok! Ok! We’ll head back.”

“Then why are we heading forward?”

“Because forward is the shortest way back.”

“But we want to go backwards! Backwards the way back!”

“No, forward is the way back”

“You are talking nonsense! You are trying to drown us all!”

“Look, you are going to have to trust me on this. You just said that you are young and irresponsible, and I know better.”

“Well obviously we were wrong! Help! Mr Shaw is trying to drown us all!”

“Stop yelling! Unless you want to be rescued by a helicopter.”

“Ooooh! That would be fun! Let’s keep yelling! Help! Help!”

I was starting to feel a little embarrassed, imagining what a person outside the swamp might think, hearing the girls scream. Four of the girls were joking, but I was a bit worried about the one who didn’t look like she was joking. Meanwhile the three boys were completely indifferent, and deaf to the girls, seemingly adopting insensitivity as the best policy for dealing with the opposite sex.

The path got tricky towards the edge of the swamp, as the spring floods had washed away most of the old dams. I had to pick my way carefully to find a path that kept water from getting over the tops of their boots. Two boys helped me by plunging ahead and finding the deep places, but they didn’t mind the water in their boots. The smallest boy, aged five, followed me and carefully put his feet where I said, and crossed with his feet dry. All five girls failed to follow instructions, and when water poured into their boots they seemed to have a very good time screaming, and right up until we were three feet from the dry land kept shrieking it was better to head back. (I am convinced some girls simply like to scream for the joy of it.)

Then we had a brief contest, emptying water from boots and declaring the winner of the most-water-in-a-boot contest. Then we left the woods and took a safe road back to the Childcare, with me glancing anxiously at houses abutting the swamp, to see if faces scowled out windows at me. Even now I’m a little amazed no one overheard, and no one dialed 911.

Later parents told me they heard from their children they had been on a wonderful adventure. So it looks like I won’t be reported for child abuse. My retirement is delayed. But not denied. One of these days I’ll get reported, and then, “Free at last! Free at Last! Great God Almighty! Free at last!”

Spring also cannot be denied. During the dark, dank, drizzly spell the woods refused to pause like blooms in a florist’s refrigerator, and a haze of yellow sugar maple blooms spread through the twigs.

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Slowly the grip of cold, dank mist weakened,
And though low cloud oppressed, just as dark,
It was as if a lightness was wakened
or a bright spirit indented its mark,
Not on couch cushions like a creepy ghost,
But in every heart, as a sense of ease.

Light airs swung south, as, from some southern coast,
Kind angels came cruising on a merciful breeze
And every heart lifted, without sun to see,
And clenched buds loosened lacy greenery
Despite dark skies. Smiling invisibly
Fortune changed, and was so kind to me
I laughed aloud, and raised up my eyes
And felt warm glances pierce the cloudy skies.