Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Back From the HeartlandI just spent a week in the Midwest, flying into Milwaukee, and setting out on a 5 day road trip to visit various family members spread out over the Midwest. It was not the best of times to set out on the highways, with gas at it's cheapest, $4.29, and driving my sister's Ford Monster Truck, ( I filled it up twice, and it was $80 bucks each time, and it was about the biggest vehicle I've ever driven, luckily, in places like Joliet IL, and Geneva WI, there are plenty of wide open spaces, and I never had to parallel park ) but people in the Midwest live where it's quiet, and therefore have to drive a long way to do just about anything. When I think about the way I live today, being able to ride my bike just about anywhere I need to go, or if I have to drive, not really needing to drive more than 10 miles to get whatever I need to get, I wonder how anyone who lives in a small town, has any extra income. If I had to spend $80 per week to get to work, or buy groceries, or go to the doctor, it would put a serious dent in my social life, and I might even have to cut out some of the things that I have become dependant on, good coffee, sporting events, movies....take-out dinners, name brand ice cream.
But my family, who are not as fortunate as I, have had to make choices. They still eat well, I mean, this is my family, and good food is essential, at least half of our waking hours are spent on eating meals, cooking meals, and planning meals. While we are eating breakfast, we are thinking ahead to lunch, and while we may decide that we will skip a concert or a ball game, there is no skimping on food when we all get together. But my family who live in the wide open spaces of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, have made choices about how often they can get together, because of the driving distance between them. And for me, airline tickets keep going up, but I'd give up just about anything to be able to see my family, even name brand ice cream.
In the Midwest, the corn was not as high as an elephants eye, in fact, in mid-July, it was not even as tall as me. There were large spaces in low lying areas where corn crops had washed away. I saw many empty retail spaces, and a few billboards advertising foreclosure sales. On the only three TV channels that my sister could get without cable, in the middle of nowhere, I heard George Bush try to blame Democrats for the high price of gasoline. He tried to make the case that the Democrats were at fault for restrictions on off-shore drilling, and that the Republicans who supported un-regulated drilling, were actually trying to help Americans get some relief from this economic burden. But when I drove through the cornfields, I saw not one sign for McCain, it was Obama, as far as my eyes could see. I think the choices that Midwesterners are making this year, are difficult ones, but they are listening to a voice that speaks the truth, and not the ones who have lied for the last eight years.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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