Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Summer Solstice Father's Day Thoughts

When I walked SiSi this morning, the just-rising sun seemed to be reflected off the Summer-red pelage of a whitetail standing by the road several hundred yards away. As we approached the "whitetail," it morphed into a neighbor's mailbox, transformed from a torso about the same height as a mature deer. It was that kind of a magical morning, with a mist low-hanging over the fields. One of the nice aspects of this time of year is that, on many mornings, dog-walking takes place between dawn and sunrise as the local fields slip out of their nightshirts. In the Winter, the morning dog walk always occurs when it's cold and dark.

SiSi, companion on early morning walks
SiSi, companion on early morning walks
Photo by J. Harrington

I find myself astounded that I'm enjoying the 15th Summer Solstice of the 21st century. My father was strictly an inhabitant of the last millennium. He never got to see the "new millennium" we are experiencing. I don't know that he ever heard the phrase "global warming," or "climate change," or "sixth extinction." He did get to participate in a world war and a United Nations "police action" in Korea. He taught me about having a sense of right and wrong, about protecting home and family, about building community and the need to design at a human scale. It's largely because of him that I wonder how we humans can be as short-sighted as we often are and still expect to "succeed." He used to shake his head at much of my behavior, just as I often do with my children. He taught me to do things "by the book." (From my mother I learned to read between the lines.) I grew up in a time and place where the family and its future were the most important values in life. I believe those priorities resulted in the wave of concern for the environment that broke over this country during the 1970s. As I look at the growing social and economic inequities and environmental degradation we're creating as "trade-offs" to a "better future," I don't think my father would be happy or would agree with us. I concur with him and miss his counsel. I remember the times I was angry with him and swore I wouldn't be like him when I grew up. I misjudged both my father and myself.

My Father Teaches Me to Dream

By Jan Beatty 
You want to know what work is?
I’ll tell you what work is:
Work is work.
You get up. You get on the bus.
You don’t look from side to side.
You keep your eyes straight ahead.
That way nobody bothers you—see?
You get off the bus. You work all day.
You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.
You go to sleep. You get up.
You do the same thing again.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
There’s no handouts in this life.
All this other stuff you’re looking for—
it ain’t there.
Work is work.


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