Spring Rant

So, all the snow has melted to nothing, the government has avoided such, spring is finally looking like a reality, and two of these three things I can see out of my office window. I see that the branches and sticks trellis that my naturalist habitat gardener partner assembled with the help of some neighborhood children is broken. That can be repaired with some apple slices, sunlight, chatter, a few dogs, oh, and string and fresh twigs.

Sticking out of the top of this is our American flag, which, like our Buddhist prayer flags that line our driveway, is tattered, drooping, and faded. I have a neighbor who's so OCD Ozzie & Harriet wrapped-and-bound that I had to call the police on him to get him to stop mowing part of our certified habitat garden, and who probably wishes that this flag, too, was cleaned up, repaired, made tidy... I mean, I can hear him in my mind's ear, "….get a new one for crissakes they only cost a couple of bucks…."

I see it like this… that flag has earned the right to be torn. Its threadbare nature came at a price. Its hard-earned dog-eared-ness reminds me of how hard it is to be an American. Uhoh, look out, he's got the soapbox and is getting all patriotic on us here…..

Kinda. But not really.

America.

An incredibly potential place built on what was originally a racist economy. One of the safest countries in the world. But one where just 65 years ago, well inside some of my fans’ lifetimes, Blacks and Whites couldn't fight side by side in the face of a common enemy. My father once said to me that "water from a White people's drinking fountain taste no different than one from the Colored people's fountain." Knowing he was someone who spent the war years in jail, I can only imagine how he learned *that* nugget. And now a Black president. And, currently combined with the rest of this government, a fairly ineffective one at that, as if to underscore that no matter what color he is, he can still be presidentially "unfavored" across the board. Well, that's equality for you.

America.

Where the greatest selling thing at Amazon is a little screened computer that replaces books, and where the infant mortality rate is amongst the highest amongst us industrialized nations. Where grad students in yarmulkes that flop when they run the court with nasty crossovers and shoot hot from the perimeter and uber tall car mechanics named Muhammad with lightning quick drop steps under the basket don't think twice about their Wednesday nite pick-up games other than who has a pin and a pump to inflate the ball to 8 pounds psi, or close enough. Where I'm dead set ready to die in the act of protecting Pastor Terry Jones' right to burn sacred books of faith.

Wow. Being an American sure is complicated, it's easier to go to war than to fix what's at home, God Bless your uncle's "Love it or Leave it" bumper sticker, amen.

No wonder that poor flag is tattered and torn.

We stuck that flag into the trellis in honor of our fathers. One White, one Black. They died 5 years apart. Both WW2 vets, from different sides of the track, both angry, complicated men. But by their 80th decade, both torn at their edges too, softened, hammered but never broken, like soft metal, introspective, inadvertent teachers, hopeful latent purveyors of forgiveness in the face of their finality. That flag was originally for them. But really, anything you do in remembrance is for yourself.

So, there's probably to be a cookout this year, and I'll make up invitations on the Mac. The neighbor will get one. He won't come, but he'll get one. And the flag, whatever's left of it after this week's rain and wind, stays.

Happy Spring,
-Vance
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updated 3 years ago