Thursday, January 19, 2017


Today marks the 30th day of winter. Since the solstice we have picked up 32 minutes of daylight and are now gaining more than two minutes a day. Hurrah! We are also having our first winter thaw. It's amazing how nice the upper thirties feels after a spell of bone-chilling cold.

I walked this morning at the Louisville Swamp near Jordan, MN. I parked off of Bluff Drive and walked down the Middle Road to the trails. There are two active eagle nests that can be seen along the Middle Road. There are now four active nests visible from trails in the swamp. I saw five eagles today. Two were sitting next to their nest. Minnesota eagles - and I assume others all across the northland - are now busy getting their nests ready for egg-laying. I also saw a mature eagle chasing an immature eagle through the air. And I came upon another eagle eating some kind of dead animal on the frozen swamp near Jab's Farm. I watched it for a few minutes until it saw me. It tried to grab its meal and fly but missed so it circled back around and made two passes trying to snag it on the fly. It missed both times. It then parked itself in a tree nearby and yelled at me until I walked back up the trail from the swamp. I watched from a distance as it glided back down on the ice and continued tearing away and eating its dinner.

Longer days and eagles on the nest mark the transition from winter to spring. It's a hopeful season.

We are also about to endure another transition. I am not so hopeful about this one. Today marks day 731 of President Obama's tenure as President. It is also his last. Tomorrow President Trump takes the oath of office. I miss the current President already.

I don't think Obama will go down in history as a great President for the simple reason that he governed at such a hyper-partisan moment in history; the Republican opposition resisted him at every turn and limited his ability to govern effectively. And, I suspect that many of his accomplishments will shortly be undone. Hence, I think he will not be considered a great, i.e. transformational, President.

He was still a good one, the best of my adult life. Even with brutal opposition the list of his accomplishments is long and worthy, among them: a long steady economic recovery, Obamacare, opening up the military to gays (and gay marriage happening on his watch), the Iran nuclear treaty, a host of climate change and environmental initiatives and actions, no American troops in Syria, and no scandals. On top of it he and Michelle lived out their very public lives with the utmost grace and dignity. They will be missed.

Now I fear we make a Presidential transition from the beautiful season of winter to... a long endless winter with no Christmas.

The God of War by Bertolt Brecht 
I saw the old god of war stand in a bog between chasm and rockface.
He smelled of free beer and carbolic and showed his testicles to adolescents, for he had been rejuvenated by several professors. In a hoarse wolfish voice he declared his love for everything young. Nearby stood a pregnant woman, trembling.
And without shame he talked on and presented himself as a great one for order. And he described how everywhere he put barns in order, by emptying them.
And as one throws crumbs to sparrows, he fed poor people with crusts of bread which he had taken away from poor people.
His voice was now loud, now soft, but always hoarse.
In a loud voice he spoke of great times to come, and in a soft voice he taught women how to cook crows and seagulls. Meanwhile his back was unquiet, and he kept looking round, as though afraid of being stabbed.
And every five minutes he assured his public that he would take up very little of their time.

No comments: