And then we were in the rolling wheat and High Desert (depending on whether there's water) on our way through Madras – Alas, poor Madras, how you've grown! Ugly, is how – and then on along to Bend, another one of those out-of-place wonders (like Port Townsend and Mazama / Winthrop, where urban culture has caused a flourishing where stodgy farmers never would) that we love so much.
As you might imagine, knowing me, I was composing most of this in the back room of my mind while conveying us from Northern Washington all the way a state and a half to Central Oregon, 431 miles.
Mostly what I was thinking about – observing – was that we are a race (pun intended) curiously comprised in our Situational Awareness. Where we should be gradually adapting to innovations like automobiles, highways, and other newly adopted amenities, we seem to be losing ground. Maybe it’s the severity of the onslaught: too much new stuff at once. Maybe big discoveries, like printed book, fire, the land line telephone, take more than a century to integrate. Millennials crossing busy streets with their unattached children while thumbing their iPhones are a common sight; don’t give a thought to the kids, they’re such fun to make! Likewise, the mindless dithering driver who doesn’t have the slightest thought for the car beside, behind. It’s all a solitary quest for the proximate goal: home to Seattle by dinnertime. It doesn’t help, I think, that for two and a half years now our “leader” – although we must be thankful that he really hasn’t been able to lead us anywhere yet – is a narcissistic buffoon who cares only for himself. THAT is something I think he has led us to, and how we claw ourselves back to caring in this high-speed, anxious, money-grubbing, time-is-money world, I’m sorry, but I cannot see the way.
On the road today we were listening to Howards End, E. M. Forster’s magnificent 1910 novel – “Only connect.” – and that’s been the theme of several of the places we’ve stayed in: Mazama, where a community comes together to make trails so they can take walks with their neighbors; Salt Spring, where the whole damn community squeezes into Ganges on Saturday to rub elbows at market; Ucluelet, where the tradition of tribal continuity and mutual caretaking are literally in the air and the water. And our beloved backwater of Caspar where, by reinventing neighborhood and relearning how to get to consensus. These are, I think, hints. Goddess, help us heed them!