Friday Firesmith – The Flat Earth

Oddly, I’ve had people question my first decade of memories. The photographic evidence of the first ten years of my life may have been manufactured, but from 1960 to 1970, the incident of photoshop was fairly low. This means that if my life before desegregation is falsified, there’s a vast conspiracy to paint this part of history in hues that are sharply black and white. I’ve heard sillier conspiracy theories in the last few years and it would seem that the only thing for a conspiracy to gain followers is for it to have no merit in fact whatsoever.

Stop for a moment and consider the Flat Earth Society. You and I both know how stupid this is, I would think, yet you also have to know there are some people who truly believe it. Consider how crazy it is to believe something discredited before people believed in Christ. Somehow, people forgot this was a fact, and decided to thank Magellan for proving the earth was round, and the fable that Columbus braved falling off the edge of the earth was born. It took a while, but now there are people who are once again telling other people the earth is not round, and you have to wonder why they value that narrative.

I’ve had people question my memory. They should. Memory is both fallible and it is malleable. If I was one person telling my story then it ought to be questioned harshly. Or, if there were many facts that were out of kilter about my story, or if my story could not be compared to others like it, yes, then it should be doubted. After all, I was ten years old.

Yet you cannot deny that you, and everyone you know, have memories of childhood, shared memories of childhood, and the first year of desegregation in Blakely Georgia was a terrible thing. There were still separate waiting rooms at Doctor’s Offices. There were still restaurants (with black cooks) who would only serve whites. There were events that were canceled forever, pools that closed, and things that simply ceased to exist before the powers that be allowed them to be anything but what they always had been.

Somehow, at some point in history, we lost the fact that the earth is round. We invented stories about a sailor who went against all everyone else knew to discover a New World, where civilization began anew in the wilderness. We now know all of that is a lie that there were already people who knew the earth was round, and the New World had been inhabited by human beings for thousands of years, and they were not Indians.

Yet even today, knowing that we know about the genocide Columbus started, we still have a holiday named in his honor, and now there are people who believe the earth is flat again.

There’s value in ignorance. Or rather there’s value in an ignorant population. Ignorant people can be more easily led, made to believe things without those people doing any research on the subject, and they’ll accept less because they know less than people who have knowledge and skill. Educating people will equalize them, which is why desegregation was fought against so very hard for so very long.

That’s why there are people who want to doubt my story. Because if they can convince other people it wasn’t that way, then they can erase knowledge of those times and if they can do that… where will it end, do you think?

The Holocaust Deniers are running out of eyewitnesses to confront them. The Flat Earthers are using computer-generated photos to prove their point. And there are people who tell me I did not witness my first ten years because it wasn’t really all that bad.

There’s value in that narrative, but the people who are looking to educate fewer Americans, or making it harder for Americans to be educated, are working against America.

I remember them doing it before.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
16+

Friday Firesmith – My Life of Crime

I was on night shift when one of the workers, who said he was on a diet, offered to share a pizza with me. He knew if he ate alone he would eat all of it, and so he needed me to also eat terrible food, but he knew I would love it. We had wondered if anyone would deliver a pizza to a group of people working on the Interstate, and the answer is no, but he picked one up on the way in. The radar showed rain, and the heavens opened up. We sat and ate pizza, and I asked him why he never moved up in the company, and he told me he once did time for armed robbery, and it was still on his record.

He and two of his friends were going to rob a skating rink one night, a couple of hours after it closed. The owner and his people would close it up, but they would hang around and clean up, and drink and smoke pot. The robbery was supposed to happen with fewer than two, maybe three people inside, there would be the night’s cash, maybe some pot, and they would be out of there in just a few minutes. They had a great plan, except they planned all if it while drunk. There were a half dozen people inside when they got in, there was damn little money because most people paid with credit cards, and there was no pot. Harold, the guy I was talking to, told me one of the guys had a jacket his girlfriend bought him, and it had some sort of band name on it. Everyone knew that jacket. None of the Great Skating Rink Robbery Gang thought of that. Harold served a couple of years because he was young and because his record was clean. But armed robbery could have gone a lot worse, and he knew then and he knows it now.

The robbery didn’t go as planned but it didn’t go horribly. They got less than three hundred bucks, about one hundred dollars apiece, but the other two felt like they had just robbed a stagecoach and gotten rich. Harold felt like they were going to get caught before the sun came up. It took two days for the cops to track them down.

I told him I got away with breaking and entering, once, long ago, when I was stupid, and even though I wasn’t the one who was doing the crime I was with the two guys that were, and Harold nodded, “Your friends, right?” And we ate in silence. After a while, he asked me if I still drank and I told him I did but I was more careful about who I got drunk around. “Hey, I learned that, too!” and we both laughed when he said that.

The man he worked for had inherited the company from his father, who had at one point hired Harold’s father, and that’s how he was able to get this job. He had been working for about seven years, and he hoped one day to be able to get rid of his past, but right now… eating too much pizza was the biggest sin he could afford to commit.

We talked on into the night, until it was obvious the rain wasn’t going to stop, and then he went home, and I sat in the dark and watched it rain. It’s been nearly forty years since I was stupid and committed a crime that might have scarred me for life. Luck saved me, even if I wasn’t armed it was still luck, and I knew it then and I know it now. That’s basically what it comes down to, the difference between men with criminal records and those without. Luck.

That doesn’t make me a better person than him. It took a very long time for me to learn that one.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
18+

Friday Firesmith – Arco, the Twice Dumped Dog

To begin with, let me say I have no intention of bad mouthing anyone for any reason, and if things sound that way, it’s not really my fault. This is the truth as I have been told it. The events that happened, happened this way. As Anne Lamott once said, “If they wanted to be remembered fondly they should have been better people.” Lamott is a bit of a lunatic, but considering her childhood, I can see why. To business. 

This is Arco.

Arco is half a hundred pounds of bulldog mix who, if the original story is to be believed, was dumped out of a moving car near Jessup Georgia. The woman who witnessed this called the Humane Society in Valdosta and talked them into letting her foster the dog, who was at that time called Jessup, and very reluctantly, the Humane Society agreed. The shelter is full. We have no more fosters to help with dogs. We’re getting more and more animals every day. But with someone volunteering to take a dog they found, why not? 

The next day the woman sent her son to the Humane Society with the dog and dumped him. Just said, “We can’t take him, good-bye” and that was that. Needless to say, there were more than a few people who didn’t vow not to be judgmental and harsh words were spoken. In less than twenty-four hours, this dog had been dumped not once, but twice.

Okay, here’s where I just lay things out for you, and you can decide what to believe; I talked to the woman and she said that she didn’t realize the dog had an Upper Respiratory Infection, and once she found out, was frightened that her old dog might get it and die. I spoke with someone who knows about these things and said that it is very unlikely that such a thing was told to the woman by any vet. URIs aren’t that difficult to treat or cure. But that’s not my story to tell here. That’s both sides of what I heard.

The dog was boarded for two days at a vet’s office, but after that, time would be up. He had the URI and he was heartworm positive. The shelter would put him down as soon as he was processed. Possibly sooner.

I decided to foster him and to name him Arco. Arco is a place in Brunswick Georgia where the Old Jessup Road ends. Seemed fitting, actually. I picked Arco up on the 10th of September. I knew nothing about him. “Oh, by the way”, the vet told me, “here’s some stuff for his skin”. He has a skin condition, too.
URI, heartworm positive, and skin condition, temperament unknown.

Dogs are what human beings have made them to be. They will be who we make them to be. I took Arco out into the wet grass in front of Lowe’s and discovered he wasn’t leash trained. But he did have to pee.
Then, once back here at Hickory Head, I discovered some very strange things about Arco. The first was he’s house trained. He’s crate trained, and he’s not aggressive at all. He’s well-mannered and he gets along well with other dogs. The first time I tried to feed Arco he wouldn’t eat. I had to put the food down and leave. Arco recoiled from me when I tried to pet him, so I very slowly started petting him while he fed. He got used to the idea that food and love came together in one place at one time.

It’s my religion, and it’s okay if you don’t believe in it, but I believe that all dogs deserve a shot in life at a good home. I believe they all deserve a good life. I believe that every one of them deserves to be loved. I do not believe much, but I do believe this.

Arco got screwed. He got ripped off and denied. If I could, I would set things right, and if I failed, at worst I bought the dog some time. In the meanwhile, Arco was making friends inside the pack.

Wrex and Arco became really good friends!

My photos of Arco, and how he had been treated spoke to people. A woman contacted me and said she would like to meet Arco. She has two dogs, three kids, and even though her husband didn’t like the idea, Arco spoke to her. We traded emails, messages, and a week ago today, I took Arco to Valdosta where he willingly climbed into a car with a woman and a child and began a trial run as a member of their family.

Mostly, I think this is a done deal. I think Arc

o found a home. You never know, and the woman and her husband are being cautious about it, but she talks about Arco like he’s her dog. Not their dog, but HER dog. If not, he’s welcome to stay here. The URI was just a cold, the heartworms can be killed slow, and the skin thing, I think it’s stress and malnutrition.

So, just like that, Arco is gone. He’s getting his shot at having a good family, a good home, and he’s going to be loved.

I’m getting back into fostering, it seems. I can’t say I didn’t think about keeping him. I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind.

But I know, deep down inside, this is how lives are saved, and I know, deep down inside, there are more dogs out there who need me to keep believing. And after meeting Arco, the Dog Dumped Twice, I believe more than ever.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
39+

Friday Firesmith – The Fallen Giants

John McCain was a driven man even before he decided to be a fighter pilot. He seemed to be a man of destiny after he survived five and a half years of torture and prison. Yet he was also a man who strayed early and often from his vows of marriage, and his second wife was a mistress before they were wed. McCain’s children had issues accepting this, and you should too, but only to a degree. McCain was flawed, I’ve said that before, but we all are in some way. McCain’s flaws were just more public than most.

The internet in general, and now the ubiquitous and omnipresent video camera, make the world a less private place. Once, I was singing in my truck in the parking lot of a store and I realized a young woman had her cell phone pointed at me. Can you imagine being on YouTube as “Old Guy Singing Maroon 5 Horribly!” It’s the world we live in now. Children are growing up in a world where everything they say and do, likely, is being recorded.

People like McCain aren’t going to exist anymore. The one thing you might not know about John McCain is that he could be loud, abrasive, and profane. I was like that early in my life, but I took a job that had a Human Resources Department and they had Sensitivity Training twice a year. The supervisors that once pushed people hard, and got results, were replaced by very polite people who asked employees to do their jobs, if it wasn’t too much trouble.

I’m not saying that supervisors have to be abusive or harsh to do a good job, but if you’re training for combat I would recommend that you not tell a platoon, “Buckle up, Kittens!”

In December of 1944, a surprise attack by Nazi forces against an American line depleted by soldiers on leave and by the idea the Germans were beaten, was nearly broken. One hundred miles away, George Patton and the Third Armor Division stopped fighting, wheeled hard to the north, and closed on the attacking Germans in less than three days.

Patton’s nature was to be profane. How he got that many men and that much equipment that far that fast has created legends and more than one movie.

Yet Patton was a man whose career was nearly ended because he slapped a soldier.

Great Times produce Great People. These are not those times, and we are producing fewer people who could be a Patton, or a McCain, or a Martin Luther King, Jr. The times are too good for there to be a Malcolm X, or a Gandhi. There is no place for an Elizabeth I or Harriet Tubman.

As we see others judged by how they appear in the most recent video, or one from a decade ago, we modify our behavior to keep from falling victim to the All-Seeing Internet. We’re training people, and our next generation of leaders, to expect judgment, and to issue judgment, and there is no room for the mistakes that lead to learning experiences that lead to greater things.

We’re weeding out the giants. We’ve become a nation of unforgiven and flawed people who are unwilling to allow personal mistakes to be part of the past. I think this is the path to times when we will need Great People once again, and we will have to trust none of them were caught singing poorly in public.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
22+

Friday Firesmith – In Small Packages

Jamie was one of those women who never seemed to have lost that Sweet Little Girl quality about her. I actually used in her a short story, a work of fiction, where there was a member of a group of people who continuously discounted her very existence as a human being. She was more like a really large kitten, or a child, or something pretty and fragile to look at, but never taken seriously.

I knew her boyfriend pretty well, and long before video games took over the world, there were board games that were serious. It took hours to play one called Axis and Allies, and I was pretty good at the game, and so was Tommy, who was Jamie’s boyfriend. It was more than a little disconcerting to see the two together because even though she was twenty she looked younger. A lot younger. At barely five feet tall and less than one hundred pounds, the woman really looked very innocent and very sweet.

One day, she moved out and Tommy told us she had delivered an ultimatum; stop playing games all weekend or she was gone. Universally, every time he told someone she said that they laughed. He laughed. I mean, how do you take someone that looks like a character from a Disney movie seriously?

Tommy was one of those guys that had an extensive CD collection. We were sitting around talking about Jamie leaving and he popped a CD in. It was the wrong CD. He tried another. And then another. All of his CDs were in the wrong cases. He had a very large video library. The cases were marked but the cassettes weren’t. Each and every movie he owned was in the wrong case. Since he had recorded most of them bootleg, there was no telling which was which.

This was annoying but amusing to the rest of us, and then we sat down to play. All of the games pieces had been super glued to another game piece. There was at least a hundred or so, and she had glued the bases together so if you cut one or the other, you’d have to glue the base back. That was bad enough. That was catastrophic. But the real damage was to the dice. The game required a lot of dice rolling and Tommy most have owned a dozen or so. Jamie had taken a drill and very meticulously drilled holes in each die, and then super glued a piece of lead shot into the hole. Basically, this caused each die to roll a certain number every time. It must have taken the woman an entire day to get all of this done. She also called Georgia Power had had his electricity cut off on a Friday afternoon. He didn’t get it back on until Monday.

I saw Jamie downtown one day and stopped to talk to her. “Why’d you do it?” I asked, and she just smiled at me. She looked so very sweet and so nice. She had this thing where she’d toss her hair back, and cock her head to one side, like a puppy, and she looked so adorable.

No woman has ever looked at me and scared me more than Jamie did at that moment.

What’s the strangest thing an ex did to you after he/she left?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
12+

Friday Firesmith – Look Up

I have a friend who is getting depressed as hell about pushing sixty years old. His kids all grew up, moved away, had grandkids, but he lives too far away to see them very often, and he won’t move. He’s lived in the same house since he graduated from high school, stayed married for twenty-five years before she left for someone else, and now he sits at home, argues with people on the internet all night, and drinks.

I talked him into going to see a movie one day but he’s gotten so bad now even being out of the house for a few hours is physically uncomfortable for him. He sent me a text the other day wanting to know if I wanted to come over and drink with him, and I sent him this:

 

I stopped Wednesday morning and took this photo from my driveway. I was running late for work, had to drop the trash can off, but stopped dead still, and watched this. It was free. I didn’t have to have a connection. It wasn’t streaming. It was there. I was there. All I had to do was look up.

He sent a text back asking what that had to do with anything, and I told him to walk outside and take a photo of the sky. Just do it, just get up, walk out of your house, point the damn cell phone at a cloud and take a photo. Just look up. Do it.

Wednesday morning wasn’t done with me, by the way. A half mile down the road and this was to the west.

  

This rainbow, and I didn’t get a very good shot of it, was a whole and complete bow, touching the earth in two places, one of them looked like it was right over my house.

My friend told me there wasn’t anything to take a photo of, and then he started on politics so I bailed.

There is something to take photos of in your life. There is beauty to be seen. It doesn’t have to be a rainbow or a sunrise. Shadows, light, texture, and more are all there, and all you have to do is stop and look. Right now, this very instant, stop what you’re doing, and yes, you’re reading this so it’s perfect timing, but find something to enjoy with your eyes and go for it. Show it off. Don’t worry if it’s not Wednesday morning and what you’ve got is just a cloud that looks, sort of, like a steamboat. It’s your steamboat. Sail it.

Technology can be a closet, a cell, a tiny space filled with tiny people, or it can help you see the world as glorious. It’s there, all the time, it fills up the entire Universe, beauty does, and finding it ought to be your mission every single day of your life because if you aren’t filling your brain with it then what are you putting in there?

Show me something beautiful, people. It’s an incredible world.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
Editor’s Note:  See my comment in the Comments for an update on posting an image with your comment.
 
36+

Friday Firesmith – The Internet Dead

When I first got started on the Internet, I had no idea that it would be something that affected my life, forever. I first logged on back in the late nineties, and had been on other people’s accounts, but finally decided this internet thing, it might be worth it. I met my first, and likely last, wife on the internet. I adopted Lilith online. The story of Tyger Linn, Bud, and Wrex, as well as half a dozen fosters, all came from the internet. I send text messages to people at work rather than call them. I send out at least a dozen emails a day at work. Most of the processes that I must attend to at work are done online.

Back in 2005 or 2006, I went to a party at a friend’s house and met a woman. We had a good conversation, we talked about art, and I got her phone number. Her boyfriend took exception to it, but she and I traded texts about art for a while, she ditched the boyfriend, as we dated.

Literally, this was the last woman I have dated that didn’t start online.

Dog Rescue doesn’t exist in its current incarnation without the net. There are people who watch Craig’s list to make sure dogs adopted from the Humane Society aren’t being sold. There are people who keep up with the people constantly looking for dogs and cats, because these people might be involved in dog fighting or abuse. There was a case where a woman returned a dog to the Humane Society claiming the dog was simply escaping from his fenced in backyard, but the truth was the woman had a new boyfriend, and the dog was loyal to the woman’s husband, who was deployed overseas. One of the people in our group was a bartender, where this woman and her boyfriend liked to drink.

When Gayle Hardman died a couple of years ago, it was a death that was personal, even if I had never met the woman. Gayle was a native Georgian, met a man in Seattle and they lived together for a while. He found another woman and Gayle was out into the street. Everyone assumed it was temporary, she didn’t want to leave Seattle, and suddenly it was two years later, and Gayle was dead. She crafted homemade jewelry, really nice stuff, and I bought several of her pieces. Gayle never gave up on the idea of clawing her way back up from homelessness and getting an apartment or a house. Sleeping in a car, or just sitting in a car, for most of a day and night killed her.

Gayle’s death was personal, even if we had never met. So was the death of other people whose demise came in a text message or an email, without a real face to connect to the person’s life. I’ve lost writer’s, poets, drunks and drug addicts, dog lovers and cat haters. Just like they were all real people with real lives.

They were, you know, and it’s okay if you grieve them like you lost a friend. I have and I will again. I miss Gayle.

Who have you lost that you never really met?

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
14+

Friday Firesmith Extra – John McCain

While piloting a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk over Hanoi in 1967, John McCain was shot down, and after he ejected from the aircraft he landed in a lake and nearly drowned. Assisted by local civilians, the North Vietnamese Army dragged the injured McCain out of the lake, beat him, bayoneted him, crushed his shoulder with the butts of rifles, and then imprisoned him. McCain had already broken both arms and one leg in the crash. The medical treatment from his wounds was, at best, minimum, and made worse by systematic beatings and torture. Offered early release from the POW camp, McCain refused, because there were men in the prison who had been there longer than he had.
McCain was a prisoner of war from October 26, 1967, until he was released on the 14th of March, 1973, nearly five and a half years of beatings, torture, and nearly two years in solitary confinement. He had been shot down while flying his twenty-third mission. During his service to this country, which lasted from 1958–1981, his numerous military decorations and awards include the Silver Star, two Legions of Merits, Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and Prisoner of War Medal.

John McCain died on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

What many people do not know about McCain is that he was the son and the grandson of Navy Admirals. He was the father of seven children. McCain divorced his first wife in 1980 and remarried that same year to, Cindy, who he would remain married to until his death.

I did not agree with many of the things that McCain said and did in the realm of politics. But his service to this nation was exemplary in every way imaginable. Within the Senate, he crossed over the aisle to vote with the Democrats at times and clashed openly with Senate leaders, and even the President. John McCain embodied the spirit of America, and he was, and he will always be, one of my heroes.

What we lost on Saturday was a man who was flawed, as we all are flawed, but who wanted to make the world a better place, and this country a stronger nation. John McCain transcended politics and party when it came to those who admired him and respected what he had done for this country. I think he would have made a great president, and I am sorry he never got a chance to serve in that capacity.

He always had a penchant for the dramatic, and the photo below is of his deciding vote not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, where he stood in from of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, and gave his vote, thumbs down.

This isn’t about politics. I want everyone to know this. I don’t want to discuss his politics. I don’t care about it. This is about a man who spent nearly all of his life in the military, having been born on a military post in Panama, and having lived with his parents in dozens of military installations. John McCain was a patriot. He was a True America in every sense of the word. He lived and breathed service to this country.

John McCain was one of my heroes, and he always will be.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
35+

Friday Firesmith – Elvis is Dead

The news was something we watched every night when I was a kid. There was one television in the house, and there were three channels, at least most of the time. Sometimes, there were only two. We got a CBS channel out of Dothan Alabama, Channel Four, and an NBC Channel out of Albany Georgia, Channel Ten, and if the moon was in the right phase, and I held my mouth right, and the antenna was turned just right, we could pick up channel Nine out of Columbus Georgia, which was an ABC channel. Monday Night Football was an iffy thing for many years.

The anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, was a couple of Thursdays ago, and usually someone on FB will remind everyone about it, and I’ll post my now obligatory “Overweight, overrated, and overdosed” meme to piss people off or make them laugh hard, and we’ll do it all again next year.

Vivien Leigh was the first famous person I remember dying, back in 1967, when I was in kindergarten. My mother and grandmother talked about the movie, “Gone with the Wind” and you have to remember, most people had never seen that movie in color before. Movies were rerun on television, which was mostly black and white, and for an actor or an actress to make it big they had to be good, damn good, at acting.

I think if Elvis hadn’t been Elvis, someone else would have been Elvis, because music and popular culture was driving to a point where ability and talent meant a lot less than marketability and advertising. Elvis was a process, not a person, if you take my meaning, while a lot of the actors and singers back in the day had to get by on what they had.

In 1969, we crowded around the small black and white set to watch Neil Armstrong make one giant leap for mankind. It was something that captured the entire neighborhood, everyone was glued to their sets, and it took something of this magnitude to get that many people inside of their homes on a July afternoon.

Later that day, all of us kids were outside, the whole neighborhood full of kids gathered to talk about what had happened, and to burn off all the excitable energy that we had built up. There was a swing on a tree, and we swing as high as we could then jump off, and Mark Kelly jumped and skidded on a pile of dog poo when he landed, leaving a trail halfway up his leg.
Yards were roughly cut back then, and the area around the tree and the swing wasn’t that good, and that’s gone, too. Now with zero turn mowers that cost more than a car did back then, all the grass has to be shorn sharply.
We’ve gotten to the point where televisions and lawn mowers are so high tech the men and women who put us on the moon couldn’t figure out what makes them work, when they do, and when they break it’s cheaper to buy a new one. There are fewer swings and a lot less wild yards now. There are more people popular for doing nothing at all, and a lot fewer singers with true talent.

When the great things stopped happening, when the great singers stopped singing, when the great actors all died off, we just kept watching.  I’m not saying as a species we’ve done nothing since then, but we’re sure as hell putting more effort into that than anything else.

Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
14+

Friday Firesmith – Life On The Road

It’s early August, and even at sundown, it feels like a sauna. The residual heat leaching out of the pavement is a second noon, a reheated breath of stale air leaving a twice-dead corpse. It rained and rained hard seven hours ago but the sun blasted it all to steam in less than a lunch break. What once was a half inch of rain is now a layer of thick, moist, air that holds heat and dust. The pavement is still hot to the touch long after the sun has gone.

When humans invented the first roads it seemed like such a great idea. The path was marked, well traveled, known, and maintained. But cars turned making a journey into a commute. The idea of enjoying a drive became the fact that it can be hellish for the traveler, and even worse on the Earth.

Each added lane of asphalt is another part of the Earth we live on made uninhabitable. Nothing can live there, nothing will ever grow there again, and a busy road means death, perhaps a slow and painful death, for any and all creatures trying to cross. The interstate system divides and separates ecosystems into smaller and smaller niches. Nothing will grow or live there, nothing is allowed to cross, and an alien world is created in which no life on Earth will ever exist.

But it may very well be the postmordial breeding ground for what comes next. We have all that we need for soup, you know. We have a toxic environment where there is no competition for resources, we have an unlimited supply of organic matter being continuously resupplied, we have water, oxygen, an unrelenting sun, and tiny cracks where these ingredients can spend years getting to know one another. The crushed bodies of animals, insects, and human beings even, are being compacted into the asphalt day after day, year after year, and how long will it be before some new life form begins to replicate, and feed?

You’ll be quick to point out, if you’re educated, that this isn’t at all how it happens, that new life forms don’t just pop out of the middle of the road, unless you’re Stephen King, and then it happens about once every twelve books.

When you look at California burning and see all those trees being wiped out, you have to wonder if their function in our ecosystem is going to be replaced, and how? What if it isn’t? You look at the blue-green algae bloom in Florida, which is so thick it’s hard to get a boat through it, and you have to wonder at what point is this the new normal? At what point are we going to have a system that creates single-cell algae and not trees? What are the consequences?

We cannot destroy life on this planet, but we can modify it to the point it can survive in a world where we recklessly change the environment without regard to the consequences of those who live here.

I do not see a road to survival here.

Take Care,
Mike

 

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
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