Peak Peek

Furious wonderful flaming days, then litter, then trash to be collected and decomposed.  Such are the days of our lives _ oops, I mean of these maple leaves.

  • Peak canopy color this year has arrived nearly simultaneously with peak political fervor.  Foliage is spectacular, campaigns less so.  In either case, I wonder who is paying attention.
  • Colorful trees are easily ignored.  Children are in their own world, enjoying everyday miracles without need for extra attention to flowers in spring or leaves in fall.  Teenagers and young adults are wrapped up in each other, with other events a mere shadow background.  Working folks are glued to smartphones _ possibly the only nature ever encountered in their busy busy lives is viral video.  Retirees have time but are easily distracted. 
  • Nasty politics are monopolized by ignorant fanatics, cranky ancient crones, and blubbery old gents who are angry that the world they anticipated never happened.  Nature in their world is basically invisible except, perhaps, on their private postage-stamp property where others dare not tread.  Brightly colored drifting detritus will not distract them from raging self-importance. 
“Old Faithful” the most colorful maple, or possibly sugar maple, in the area.  I am instantly nostalgic for its color each season.
  • When pressed, millennials and other young voters claim that votes do not matter.  It is easier to accomplish real change with social media.  I hate to agree, but they have a point.  The bedrock of cultural custom, the vagaries of civilized fads, are transmitted and if necessary enforced by tweets, videos, and funding pages, just as they used to be by churches and newspapers.  Distant and glacial Eighteenth century modes of government seem increasingly irrelevant in this age, especially when all rulers appear to be corrupt pawns of global plutocracy.
  • Voting, compared to enjoying seasonal landscapes, even seems pretty sill to me.  My vote in this district, in this country, makes no difference at all in a population of 360 million.  Better I should stare at a brightly backlit orange sugar maple,  or yellow hickory leaves shimmering in the breeze,  
  • Once upon a time I did believe in political discourse, in trying to compromise, in understanding other’s points of view.  The fanatics have left me behind.  I prefer to ignore their brittle shouts and listen to calls of migrating birds or the rustle of boughs as they lose their covering.  But as a hopeless romantic, I will go and vote anyway.
Somewhat menacing beauty portents long brown vistas which will soon settle in.
  • Elections and seasons occur with cyclical regularity.  Like sunsets, each easily overlays all other similar experiences.  I hardly remember any particular elections nor autumns.  A few sharp experiences _ a flaming woodland dell in New Hampshire decades ago _ may stand out, but usually I can only remember, at best, what happened this year or last.
  • Politics fade too.  The great debates of my youth, the great angers of today, inevitably yield to the passions of the future and monotonies of daily life.  Voting seems to have little impact _ even the most momentous changes such as civil rights or losing the Vietnam War were, on later analysis, just as much from social momentum as from new representatives gaining power.  Politicians often go with the flow just like the rest of the human herd.
  • Peak foliage is wonderful.  Peak politics is tiresome.  After this peak, life will go on.  But I am kind of glad I have been stirred by either, as spice to my daily existence.  

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