Fretful Fourth


Hot sun and warming water has enlivened the beach scene considerably.
  • My late spring depression was bracketed, not coincidentally, by patriotic holidays.  Somehow what they represented seemed far grander not only in my youth, but as little as a quarter-century ago.
  • Now we endure the worst government since Buchanan, possibly heading for the same social upheaval and disaster as followed that one.  The president thinks any adult without at least a million dollars is worthless.  The supreme court dwells in a fantasy ivory tower, examining ancient words and punctuation of godlike founding fathers, all anachronistic and irrelevant to this modern world.  Congress is controlled by a party and fanatic hacks who truly believe as much in the aristocracy of wealth and the blessings of poverty for the masses as ante-bellum southerners believed in an aristocracy of land and slaves.  And, worst of all, the electorate has allowed itself to be dumbed down to the point where it believes anything that supports its peculiar prejudices. 
  • Jefferson famously heard “alarm bells in the night” as he grew older.  One of the hallmarks of current conservatives is that they pay no attention to any thoughts of the founders after 1800.  The current plutocracy is so out of touch that they may be truly surprised at the backlash created by hopeless conditions they praise and enforce as a capitalistic god’s will.


My personal fireworks are these brilliantly bursting lilies in my back garden.
  • Each year, the Beachcroft community celebrates the fourth of July on its private beach.  It usually resembles a scene from the fifties, with children swimming and splashing, a few organized games with prizes, residents discussing life over beer and soda while hamburgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausage sizzle on the charcoal grill.  Numerous platters  of various foods have been provided by each family, there are red white and blue tablecloths and bunting on the dock as the large American flag waves in a breeze cutting the hot sun.
  • This year there will be reportedly fewer people because Tuesday is difficult to handle as a singular holiday.  In any case, lately our area has split into the old-timers who want to keep up the traditions, and the newer, wealthier folks who see no point in hanging out with those who can’t give them more financial contacts.  The elders view it as a breakdown in civility and morals, as elders always do.  No matter what, if normality holds, nobody will get into political discussions.


Rare bucolic view high on a sand bluff above the harbor;  mcmansions are popping up all around.
“We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too!”
  • Less than two decades after quaffing ale while lustily bellowing this song in 1900, patriotic Brits had no ships, no men, no money, and were about to endure over three decades of misery, disaster, and despair.


Midsummer flowers in full bloom, early grasses loaded with grain, harbor packed with pleasurecraft.
  • We used to refer to ourselves, almost proudly, as descendants of the dregs of Europe.  That expanded recently to include wretched refuse of shores everywhere.  But we also stubbornly thought we were special, an alloy formed of a magic melting pot, a proof that humans shaping their environment could become better than their history.  Surprisingly, many in the world believed us.
  • But that boomer generation is dying, often as bitter old men and women who cling desperately to whatever power they can muster after breakfast.  What is left is _ depending on which ancient Cassandras you listen to _ either vapid hedonists, or cynical incompetents.  In any case, younger generations are doomed by machines, environment, terrorists, and themselves.  Elders huddle before cable news, gather furtively in corners, and lament the passing of the shiny old days.
  • Part of those old days, kept alive as a shell of former glories, are the memorial holidays.  When I was a child, everyone knew a family member or local friend who had died in “the war,” a noble cause proudly accepted by all.   Vietnam began the long slide to today’s heavily equipped mercenary armed forces, just another specialized well-paying job being automated like all the others.  There is an inevitable sad irony in “celebrating” those who shoot drone bombs at wedding parties in far off deserts. 
  • But the uncertain lethargy of the times, when it is hard to tell right from wrong, has enervated even fierce opposition to once-immoral or illegal actions.  Our government descends into rat-maze kleptocracy.  The “elite” hide away behind stock shares while frantically partying until the plague arrives.
  • Sun continues to shine.  Bands continue to march.  Slogans will be shouted as freely as joint pain commercials.  But this holiday is not that of the fifties.  And sometimes I think the dregs and refuse
    have indeed taken over.


Delicate blue chicory is best appreciated close up, a hardy miracle where almost nothing else grows.
  • Ground cover now creeps inexorably over trash strewn across meadows and glens.  Ocean water patiently continues to swallow and hide infinite disposable plastic shopping bags, or containers pitched from boats.  Somehow, the air and water continue to become almost purified in ongoing global cycles of renewal. 
  • From a natural standpoint, the only difference between a mansion or housing development and an empty bag of corn chips blowing along the highway is size and permanence.  Both have disrupted natural rhythm and balance.  Temporarily.  They too will pass, although exactly what comes after and how profoundly rich the environment may remain is poised on a knifepoint of uncertainty.  I am not even sure we can influence it very much at this point.


Deep breaths, calm, ignore the chatter, flow with reflections, waves, and reeds. The real world goes on.
“Nice shot,” remarks Lucifer, as he pulls out a wicked-looking crooked driver from his decal-decorated fake leather bag.
“Why, thank you, sir,” grins Michael.  As always, his shot has gone straight and true, the fairway glittering under the arc of the blazing ball as it passed by.
“Don’t sir me,” Lucifer grunts.  “Remember, we agreed to take the day off _ well at least this morning _ and just enjoy ourselves for a change.
“Oh, I almost always enjoy myself,” Michael smiles beatifically.
“No choice,” mutters Lucifer.  He swings mightily, his greasy ball unsurprisingly smacks a few trees and lands in the rough, but quite near the other.   Their handicaps are, after all, nearly even.
“Been busy lately, I see.”
“Not so much.  The world seems to be taking care of itself quite nicely from my perspective.  Idiots everywhere, and sin ascendant from the bottom on up.  Happy times for me, if any times were happy.”
Michael frowns in thought. “I don’t have much to do either.  I cannot admit it, of course, but everything seems pretty futile.  Frankly, I have trouble even finding anywhere to start.”
“Perhaps we have merely become superfluous.”
“Maybe that’s why the pension started to arrive last week.”  Michael lines up the next hole.
“You think?  Well, we better enjoy this interlude before the real action starts…”



Unconcerned gull stares quizzically while garbage floats by, some kind of natural statement I suppose.
Refuse of global shores has congealed
Into a stinking, ignorant, prejudiced landfill
Larded with lumps of religious certainty,
Fuming capitalism belching whiffs of wealth
That may destroy the planet.
Sadly, probably, still

The best hope of the world.

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