Sunday, September 20, 2009

End of Summer 2009

Fall in the Pacific Northwest really is incredible. Today was one of those crystalline-perfect autumn days, when the air is just cool enough for a jacket, but the sun is bright and slanting golden, and the sky a brilliant watercolor wash of blue. Definitely a fine day for a walk, since anyone who has lived here long enough to see the seasons change a few times knows that the weather can't last, and soon enough the rains will come sweeping in, then stay for months.

A walk down to the fish hatchery, then up Whatcom Creek, past the back of the library, stopping to buy a bottle of cheap wine and a quarter's worth of fine sea salt at the public market, made for a very pleasant stroll of about three and a half miles. Admittedly, it always makes me miss having a dog, watching other people in the park playing frisbee with their pups.

I'm utterly smitten and enchanted by the salmon working their way up the fish-ladder at the fish hatchery. And even more enchanted by the fish working their way up through the water spilling down the rocks of Whatcom Creek. And, for a wonder, I remembered my camera today, too.

All I can think about, watching them, is all the different stories about magical fish. There are stories about salmon, specifically, from lots of different cultures and folk traditions, too. Local First Nations traditions include many anecdotes and intersections between salmon, people, coyote, and the waters that run out to the sea:

A disagreement between Tyee Salmon and Steelhead resulted in only Tyee Salmon going up the north fork of the Puyallup River and red salmon only going up the south fork. Salmon run all the way up into the Cascades because Coyote broke the weir constructed by the Sandpiper women and cleared the way for salmon to go upstream. Because of that, the Naches people could also fish for part of their food.

And in Celtic traditions, salmon figure into stories of heroes, bards, and kings. Fionn Mac Cumhail caught and cooked the legendary Salmon of Knowledge at Rossnaree, according to legend.

And in about ten days I leave for the east coast, for Viable Paradise. It's odd to think that the rains could come while I'm gone, and this all might look very different when I come home again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Requiescat In Pace

Mary Travers has died.

My mom had all their records, stuck in the very back of the big console record player, with her previous name written with indelible marker, using careful and pretty cursive, on the album covers.

I asked about those albums, once. The resulting conversation was one of those odd and slightly disconcerting experiences that result when children discover that a parent was complete human being, with stories of her own, before having children.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Health Care

There was a Bellingham rally for the single-payer option, today, and as the chanting throng of people wended their way under my window, I could hear the occasional heckler shout from a passing car.

The cat sat in the window and growled at the commotion.

And I haven't been able to stop thinking about the discussion on Jay Lake's LJ post where he posted a short list of questions, polling his readers about their positions on illegal immigrants and American health care.

I gave my own answers on LiveJournal instead on in Jay's comment thread, because there's plenty of sound and fury there, already -- and if ever we needed a meme, folks, a meme about things that really matter is worth the time to at least think about deeply, even if you don't want to say anything out loud for whatever reason. These are questions everyone in this country needs to look at head-on, though.

And there comes a time that you have to decide what's right and what's wrong, and oddly enough? I've never actually found, in 42 years of living so far, that there's any meaningful and intrinsic relationship between a price tag and doing the right thing.

Finally, that oft-repeated right-wing meme about illegal immigrants sucking off of everyone else? How come the people repeating that never mention the estimated 7 BILLION dollars paid into Social Security by undocumented workers? Or the estimated 1.5 BILLION dollars paid in Medicare taxes?