Category Archives: election

Falling Leaves and First Ladies

Tuesday was the longest day. I don’t think many of us knew what to do with ourselves. Of course, some people were simply standing in lines to vote. Unbelievable images when you take into consideration that we are not a new democracy, and when you appreciate all our advanced technology. Still, people stood patiently in lines long past polling hours.

When I was at home in the day, I made calls. When I was out, I went for long walks amongst the trees. The sun was out and I took that as a sign. And I needed the air. Finally, I settled into raking leaves around my house. Bright yellows, golds, red and orange leaves that were lovely and falling at the same rate I could gather them. Nevertheless, it seemed important that I try to make things tidy. It was an impossibly long day, waiting for the results to roll in. And when I was done raking, I did it again.

Keep America Beautiful came to mind, the nonprofit organization Lady Bird Johnson embraced. I have heard that before her campaign, it was quite common for Americans to throw trash out their car windows. Our highways were littered, and in the course of inspiring people to clean up the trash she went a step further and proposed roadside wildflowers, a program that would sustain itself. (And the idea being that people would be less inclined to litter when the landscape was lovely). Lady Bird worked tirelessly to restore natural beauty to America’s public spaces. This was before we even had the word for environmentalism, but she understood it. She knew the impact it would have on the quality of our lives and communities.

While twice filling the yard waste bin it occurred to me that Lady Bird may be one of our most underappreciated First Ladies. I was also thinking it may be safe to come in now. It was dark and in the street lights the leaves in trees looked like blossoms. Another sign?

I’d enough air, I could breathe. I can make it.

And indeed, it’s over. The center is holding and we were not derailed. We can all go forward with what we do in this beautiful country of ours.

Now, where was I?

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The Politics of Place

The city of Seattle is teaming with Eastern Gray Squirrels. My understanding is that the Woodland Park Zoo first imported these pesky little creatures in order to have something wild running amongst the visitors, so not everything would be encaged. In their effort to create a bucolic atmosphere for the zoo, they gave it to the city as well. The Eastern Gray Squirrel simply thrives here.

My neighbor over the fence is a bright, attractive woman. She lives in an art-filled house and approaches  her perennial gardens like a painting. When we first moved to Queen Anne, I called her Beatrix Potter for her habit of feeding the squirrels. Dizzy with all their comings and goings, I admit to having called a trapper in the early days. But that was a futile idea as long as the feeders were up and the word of a good buffet at her place had long been out. So we all live with a “mess” of squirrels (that’s what it’s called), and the high wooden fences between our city lots are their thoroughfare. Congeniality is learned by living in real neighborhoods.

Like most of my neighbors my politics are liberal, Democratic, and I like to think, progressive. But I have noticed this: it is often the Republicans who have the best-kept homes and grounds, and Beatrix Potter is one of them. And I admire that. I am into architecture, design, and gardens, and this has always been kind of a conundrum for me: a Democrat at heart, and a Republican as far as appearances go. While most of the Republicans seem to have weekly landscaping contractors who descend and maintain perfect lawns, perfectly trimmed hedges, keep window boxes filled, in short, everything ready for a magazine shoot, Beatrix, on the other hand, by doing her own gardening, actually falls in more with the general scheme of things in Seattle—where it’s so “blue,” it’s turquoise, and so “green,” it’s emerald. (The irony to me now is that she is the one with a heart of gold for the squirrels, and I was the one calling the trapper).

It has been said, “A Democrat falls in love; a Republican falls in step.” While the first part remains true for me regarding the upcoming presidential election, the second part, is not, not this time around. But might this be just what we have needed as a country, for the Republicans to lose their lock step? Perhaps they have always been too sure of themselves, and Democrats, too questioning? When it comes time I will have my Obama/Biden sign out there with the best of them in their lawns and gardens—that is, if they ever make up their minds on a candidate.

Recently Beatrix invited me to come and meet Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Republican candidate for Governor.  Feeling a bit like an undercover agent, I went like a good neighbor. And guess what? I like the guy. Certainaly there are other issues such as education and he covered them well, but I was particularly interested to see if he was friendly toward same-sex marriages—something our current Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into legislation. I wanted to know that Washington would not back down on this. And McKenna said he would indeed support it, “if that is what the people want.” An amiable guy, as I said.

O.K., now I have a confession to make: Remember the pristine Republican lawns and grounds I can’t-help-but admire in my neighborhood? During the presidential election of ’08, I know that by lingering there I may have inadvertently encouraged my little dog to pee wherever there were McCain/Palin signs. I feel bad about that, and won’t do that again. Unless it’s Newt, or Santorum, or….

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Filed under election, neighborhood, squirrel population, Uncategorized