Columns 2007

Weekends are a needed break

The most interesting reaction I had to the column I wrote last week about the zoo and Maggie came from a lady who wrote to me that when she first started reading it, she thought it was going to be about politics and politicians again.  She expressed great relief to find that when she got into it, it was actually about an elephant.

I guess that’s where we are at this point. Anything that will turn our minds from the headlines detailing just how sleazy our politicians are is a welcomed relief. Heck, I’m even glad to see OJ back on the front page. At least I expect him to be a sleazoid.  No surprises there.

I’ve ruminated a long time on the current phenomenon in our land, the feeling that politics has taken over every headline the way Paris Hilton’s jail sentence once did.  And I must ask, who ever thought we’d long for the days of Paris Hilton crying out in despair as she’s led away to three whole weeks in jail? 

In order to try and clear my head a little, give my psyche a break, and get rid of the dead plants hanging over my front porch, I spent the weekend in my yard. This is not something I usually do, and never do I do it voluntarily unless the situation has gotten so bad I’m afraid the neighbors might be calling the police because they’re afraid they lost a kid in the tangle of my raspberry bushes. Besides, I figure by this time of the year, most self-respecting bugs have nestled in underground and won’t be nearby to freak me.  So I went out, pruning shears in hand, and started hacking away.

Here’s a word of warning for all my readers. It is probably not a good idea to think about local political scandals while you have a sharp object in your hand and greenery surrounding you.  I started at one end of my raspberry row thinking I would just cut back those branches that were reaching across the yard and starting to climb up the wall of my house.  But once they were trimmed, the mess under the bushes seemed to stand out – a political analogy even when I wasn’t trying for one. So I thought I’d trim up the bushes enough to get under them and rake out the debris.  But then I cut one a little too short and had to cut the others to match. Do I really need to continue here? Where I once had raspberry bushes climbing to the sky, I now have totally naked ground with the occasional little stem sticking up.  I also have about four hundred pounds worth of raspberry bushes on the ground waiting for the garden fairy to bag them all up and drag them to the end of my driveway for me. If I’m a really good girl and go to sleep when I should and keep my eyes shut really, really tight, it will happen.  Of course, I also believe that if I do that often enough, when I wake up there will be people representing me in government who don’t make me want to run screaming into the night.  We’re all entitled to our fantasies.

Here’s the trouble with being old. Not only do those fantasies never come true, but you end up with a naked yard, a pile of dead branches and a back that is essentially your chiropractor’s ticket to his children’s college education.  And because the caffeine had not yet worn off and I was still in a snit about job offers in warm climes in exchange for votes, I cut my hanging plants back before putting them to bed for the winter.  I mean, really cut them back.  I don’t want to directly blame anyone for my garden woes, but someone owes me new hanging plants next spring.

So you’d think that a weekend with no new headlines from trial testimony and all that physical labor in the garden would cause my normally cheerful personality to reassert itself.  Throw in the OJ headlines and I should be ecstatic.  Here’s someone who did something bad and we didn’t elect him to anything. How great is that?

But a weekend is simply not enough time to really take a break from it all. And now the weekend is over, the trial has resumed, the testimony spills out and all the ugly little secrets of our representative democracy become fodder for late night pundits.  I never imagined that a democracy would be a neat and clean form of government, but I never imagined it would be so scummy either.  I feel less dirty coming in from an afternoon in my garden than I do after listening to the tapes being played at Pete Kott’s trial. And it isn’t the language that most offends me.

All in all, it was a really lovely weekend. The sun shone, the air was crisp, and the mosquitoes seemed otherwise occupied. I took long walks, cleared out my garden, and got to watch pretty people in pretty dresses at the Emmy awards.  But now the weekend is over. Reality has reasserted itself. Bummer.