Undercurrents and Subtext

74  bar steady 29.75 3mph W dew-point 49  Summer, sunny and pleasant

Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

A party.  Kate and I are not party people.  We both prefer a night at home or the theater or classical music, but we’re headed out tonight because of Paul Strickland’s kids.   Kate Strickland, oldest, heads out in two weeks for Japan.  She’s going to Kyoto prefecture to teach English as part of the JET program, a government sponsored ESL that places applicants in the Japanese school system.

The backyard party at their 4900 block Colfax Avenue home in Minneapolis had many people we did not know, but Stefan Helgeson and Lonnie were there.  Stefan, Paul and I represented the Woolly Mammoths.

Such parties have, like family reunions, undercurrents and subtext.  The lines of relationship, for example, the casual observer would assume ran strongest among Paul, Stefan, and me.  Only partly true.  Lonnie and Sarah (Strickland) were friends of mine for a couple of years before their husbands pulled me into the orbit of the Woolly Mammoths.

There was Kate Strickland’s closing of this chapter in her New York life.  Why?  Unsaid.  There was Lonnie’s recovery, less than a month along, from cancer surgery.  A rare great outcome.  No chemo or radiation needed because they caught the uterine cancer at its earliest stage.  Paul’s work, entangled with his across the alley neighbor, is in uncertain times.  Stefan has had a come to Jesus moment with Lonnie’s cancer surgery, “I find it difficult now to not do the things I want to do.”

Overhanging the whole is the generational tide sweeping those of us over 60 toward years of a new time while our kids go to Japan, have their own children, become 2d Lts in the Air Force, head off to college, or graduate from college.

This event was in no way unusual in these subtexts and undercurrents and I’m confident there were more, perhaps darker ones, about which I know nothing.   Any time we human beings gather we bring with us the scent of our current life and the trail on which we have walked to get there.  As social creatures our scents intermingle creating a perfumed community while our paths (ancientrails) intersect and deflect, generating paths of a slightly different direction than the one we were on before.  This is life as we live it, as we must live it.

Running through my mind today has been a bumper sticker I saw years ago during the controversy over the Boundary Waters.  I was in Ely and noticed a local pickup truck.   Plastered on the gate the bumper sticker read:  Sierra Club, kiss my axe.  That was redolent of a real debate, an actual conflict between parties with drastically different visions.  Politics and its cousin the law are the arenas in which, in a democracy, we slug out conflicts without, hopefully, violence.  I like conflict and the clash of ideas, the taking up of the sword in defense of an ideal, a vision.  Being back on the battlefield brings sparks to my eyes.  Fun.

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