Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Ant

That's as opposed to the grasshopper. I've made all my preparations for winter -- well, with the exception of putting the snowplow on the tractor but I want the bucket to stay on as long as it can, since it's still useful. I got the driveway (which is almost half a mile long) fixed, the house primed (finish coat can wait till spring) the woodshed built, and now I've finished processing all the wood for this winter and I'm putting it away.

There's a ton of wood that came down in our two big storms this summer awaiting sectioning and splitting, but there's no big hurry there. I'll work on it at my leisure, until we get snow cover and then I'll just wait till spring to finish up.

So that's quite a satisfaction. So far I'm keeping the house more than warm very easily with just the wood stove, and I've gotten more than a year ahead on firewood. The deep cold is still ahead but as long as we don't end up with roof-crushing snow pack again I can live with it.

Now for something completely different, one of the most obvious differences between city and country is the meaning of guns and gunfire. There's a guy maybe a mile and half away, I'm not sure -- my ear is not trained to interpret the nature and distance of firearms -- who gets off two or three shots from what I believe is a high powered rifle every morning at 6:30. My guess is he isn't just trying to wake himself up, he's trying to scare the deer away from his orchard. A different guy (I think) has to empty a 12-round clip every evening at about 5:30. Some people need a martini when they get home from work, some people need to shoot a gun.

It's hunting season now so at random moments you'll hear a shot from any direction. Finally there are some wackos who have a firing range across the river and when they get going on a Saturday afternoon it's like downtown Kandahar. Whether I like it or not -- and I really don't mind after all -- that's how it is.

Think about it. If I heard a single gunshot in the city, I'd call the police. What's just part of life out here is social pathology where I lived for 25 years. If you haven't been able to internalize this basic divide in American life, a major problem in our politics won't make any sense to you. People out here don't get why some politicians want to regulate gun ownership, and people in the city think folks out here must be violent lunatics because they are so worried about it.

Unfortunately, I can't think of any way to make effective laws that would operate differently in the city and the country. With our winner-take-all two party system, issues have to ride together, along with party identity. Which helps explain why a lot of people seem to vote against their own interests on numerous matters -- those matters are going along for the ride with other matters they care about immediately and directly. Since the whole divide is also bound up in cultural identity it's difficult even to talk about it reasonably. So there you are.


  1. An excellent explanation of our insane political landscape.

    I have often thought that one way to regulate guns is to limit guns that are simply not used for hunting, so hunters wouldn't feel their rights being impinged. I may be wrong, but I don't think hunters go after Bambi using AK47s. Of course, hunters may disagree with me, and any gun control is an infringement.

  2. What Robin said. Gun control is not about rifles, shotguns, or primitive firearms. But the NRA survives on fear tactics and so hunters are convinced that gun control is a librul conspiracy to steal their hunting firearms.

    I just get the impression that culturally we haven't matured enough to be entitled to guns. E.g. during the campaigning for the last presidential election, one party was goading unstable freaks to use guns to take out the opposition candidate. I blame the persistence of that rhetoric after the election for some of Obama's unsavory decisions to abridge our civil rights.