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Monday, June 20, 2011


roadside attractions

These lilies are blooming everywhere now. On 18 north of Sparta (Hwy18 East) has several clusters of them by the side of the road, growing where guardrails were put up. These lilies grow on both sides of the guardrail. The County can't afford to mow the sides of the roads this year as last, meaning we have more roadside attractions in the greenery either side of the roads. I felt like they over-did it before, clipping every shoot of growth down to lawn. I can also see the promotional aspect for mowing, so we can see better any critter about to jump into the road, though I know that was not considered when whatever committee in Raleigh made the ruling that the roadsides must be clipped. The consideration was another job. Now it's letting go jobs. Whatever the State's motivation to clip or not to clip, I do like seeing the greenery along the sides of the roads go through the various life cycles and flowering processes, which happens all summer long, different flowers every month.

It's funny how nearly all of us despair at the thought of a form of government, County. State and especially Federal, making a decision we all must live by, like laws pushed through the process by liquor corporations to stop the sale and use of homemade liquor so the corporations get all the profits. And laws pushed through by insurance corporations to make us all wear seatbelts at the risk of a $75 fine, while children in schoolbuses cannot use seatbelts. No seatbelts there to be used. We have extremely articulate laws about placing babies in a baby carrier strapped to the back seat a certain way. Then in kindergarten when they start school, no seatbelts. The schoolbus a big moving cage with benches, ruled by bullies, who would be better strapped down. I like the analogy of a camel being a horse made by a committee.

On the other hand, when there are no decisions made by any committees, you get something like India where you see in documentary films that take place in the world the people live in, Hong Kong, hundreds of wires going to all the units for dwellings, offices, businesses, so many they look dangerous. Alleyways where poor people live, overhead are thousands of wires. These tight spaces were there before electricity. All the wiring is external. Here, we have regulations increasing by the year how to build wiring into structures. When there is that much make-shift wiring, much of it, if not all, is bound to be dangerous, especially for electricians who have to deal with it. I expect there are people who die every time it rains in those places due to bad wiring and puddles of water. I imagine people living in those circumstances would welcome regulations that by now we're worn out by.

Home from driving in Mexico for 2 weeks, I have been happy every year to get my car inspection, don't even mind paying for it. In Mexico you don't need brakelights, headlights, turn signals or license tags. Anyway, that's how it was 25 years ago and I doubt if it has changed. We forget how much we depend on brake lights and turn signals in traffic or on the highway. Headlights matter, too. Those 2 weeks driving in a place where the only rule was stay on the right side of the yellow line, not always adhered to, about made a rodeo driver of me.

The Sierra Madre mountains, the southern extension of the Rockies, are tropical and dramatic, beautiful to drive in, except for the rattling roar of dump trucks without mufflers taking the roads as fast as they can be driven, paying no attention to the yellow lines, using both lanes freely. Going into a curve I got to where I slowed way down anticipating one coming at me in my lane and no place to go. Wall of rock to the right, infinite chasm to the left. The road was a dumptruck race track. I came to tremble when I heard the sound. Stopped at a hotel in the mountains after driving all day in the mountains. All night long I shuddered unconsciously when a dump truck drove by on the highway. They became as threatening a sound as the buzz of a rattlesnake. A quarter century later I can still hear those exhaust pipes. They had their own particular sound.

Little crosses with Latin names on them, usually a pair, sometimes a family, were sticking out of the ground all along the highway, especially on bad curves. It was like the highway was a cemetery. My guess when I saw a cross was Miguel & Celina were run off the road by a dumptruck. Remembering that highway brings to mind the first line from an old hymn, Lonesome Tombs, 'I was strolling one day through a lonesome graveyard.' I didn't feel ready to have a cross with my name on it hammered into the ground on that highway in Mexico. But, we never know. Drove super cautiously, anxious every moment for the unknown in or around every curve, noting that every one of those crosses was put there by somebody in a car, who parked on the highway to get out and plant the cross. Car comes around the curve, both cars over the side. All the people involved had cars stopping on the highway to put up crosses for them.

Thanks to committees and regulations and enforcement of safety laws, I was so happy when I crossed the border into the land of regulations and laws, I bought a 6pack upon settling to roost and drank it all watching Mad Max on the tv before turning in. Back in the USofA. If you wonder why Mexicans are risking their lives to come here, go to Mexico and see. Photographs don't get it. It's everywhere the moment you cross the line, like the fascisti police that appreciate a Ben Franklin for a moment's privilege. It turns out I like living with regulations and a zillion squared laws to go by, almost needing a law degree to get along in life. I appreciate regulations unconsciously every time I drive to town and everybody stays in their lane, brake lights work, turn signals work; we're all subject to the same laws, rules of the road, which matter. In the Age of Oil, everyday life is more complex in our living situations than any time before when we walked or rode donkeys. Getting right down to it, whether or not to mow the roadsides all over the county is a decision that matters.


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