Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, San Luis Obispo, CA, for Dec 21`, 2007
Traveler, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Qarima Zuri Sana McGurk is boofing at the nutcrackers that now march along the fireplace mantle and stand guard on the hunt table. Bred for the fierce light of North Africa and cautiously suspicious of all things not caravans or caftans, camels or gazelles, little in her Sloughi DNA has prepared her for these sentinel creatures from the misty dark of northern climes, their oddly blank faces gleaming in the colored Christmas lights.
Of the pouring rain, the first blessed storm of the winter that is thrumming on the roof and drenching the thirsty land with cleansing water, she has taken no notice. Nor does she seem to mind the appalling spectacle of The Mighty Finn MacCool, my lanky rescue greyhound, dressed to the nines in Christmas gear, a stuffed Christmas mouse stuck onto his harness, all gussied up for the Los Osos Christmas parade. Perhaps, to Zuri, he looks like a camel, packed and ready for a journey.
The Basenjis, of course, pay no attention to any of this. Except the rain, which they absolutely hate, a puzzling aversion for dogs that originally came from the Congo where it does little but rain most of the time. Perhaps they share a genetic predisposition with those hardy denizens of the snow-heaped northeast who head to Florida first chance they get and thereafter cringe and grumble at even a glimpse of frost.
The great wheel of the seasons has come round again, this time quicker than ever I can remember. But so far the weather clues have been all awry – cold snaps one day followed by tropical breezes from the south the next. The giant Four O’ Clocks that should have abandoned their foliage and stems to flee into their tuberous underground dens for a nap are sending up new shoots that are soon turned to icy mush by an unexpected frost. It is likely all a harbinger of more troubling times ahead as the Climate Piper comes to be paid. We were warned. We did not listen. We do not listen still, so the unnecessary price that will be paid for that delay will be fierce, a terrible legacy for our great grandchildren and polar bears, neither of which had a say in the matter.
In Washington, another year of unraveling lies, incompetent kleptocracy and more corporate cronyism has created in me a kind of stunned paralysis and a gaped mouth question: Just how low can this administration sink? Will it set some kind of Guinness Book Of World Record for Stealing the Silverware? Just how long will President Pinocchio’s nose have to grow before sheer gravity pulls his head permanently to the ground? And won’t that make for some weird photo-ops?
If it didn’t involve so much suffering and death, lost faith and lost public treasure, it would be comical. But in these dark solstice nights, I have nearly given up hope of any real change in the Corporate Oligarcy that we have allowed to become our government. That change will only happen if the American people wake up and start connecting some vital dots. The opportunities for profoundly beneficial change are golden and ripe and ready. But if the vision and will is missing, nothing will change. And courage, too.We need courage. Surely we’ve had enough of allowing ourselves to be frightened by lies so we can be herded like goats and fleeced like lambs?
Then perhaps that should be my Christmas prayer this year. That we be given the grace to realize a change of heart, a change of view, a change of perspective. It takes only the blink of an eye, a small amount of courage, and only a glimmer of faith to make that tiny leap. It is the small mustard seed that can move mountains, the little child born in a manger who transforms half a world, that one individual who asks “What if?” It is always just that one small step off the path that ends up changing the entire road forever.
The rain has stopped now. Zuri has stopped boofing, too. She finally realized that the Christmas nutcracker was simply painted wood and nothing to fear. I head out the front door in the dim winter light to scatter California poppy seeds onto the wet ground. They are sturdy little flowers and once they take root they are ready for anything.