Summer lingered through September, a sensual pleasure but odd enough here on the forty-fifth parallel that I shivered at what it might mean. We bumped into Annie, Monday night, and she pointed out that the trees are still green. She’s a transplant here, as are we, but we’ve all been in the north country long enough to expect autumn a month earlier. The last week has been cool and rainy, but still without frost. The Arboretum included advice in its newsletter that we should have our grass short when the snow sticks, so as to deny cover to the tree-girdling mice. After losing two trees last winter, and fearing for the rest, I’m on it. It’s sunny today, and that should dry the grass, making it mowable.
Old hippie-friend KatieMae recommended Waltz with Bashir, which I rented and watched, and Barbara left alone. It’s an animated documentary about post-traumatic shock among middle-aged Israeli men who were young soldiers during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Kate is a Viet Nam vet who is wrestling with war demons she managed to keep waiting for forty years. Waltz is visually striking, and I found myself feeling protective toward its various protagonists. In one of the special features, director Ari Folman says that war is a useless horror caused by evil, charismatic men. (Bashir was Bashir Gemayel, leader of a right-wing, largely Christian party, assassinated in a bombing. Paramilitary followers avenged his death by the massacre of civilians in two refugee camps, while Israeli forces enclosed the camps.) My own take is that the egomaniacs steer and shape war, to a small extent, but war is a golem, set in motion by society’s thoughtless choices. The traumatized veterans of the Lebanon invasion were merely bystanders to the massacre that scarred them; what demons will haunt the veterans of last year’s Gaza adventure. Or haunt America’s Imperial legions.
Tuesday night was drawing group, thinly attended because of the loss of one parent, the infirmity of another, a long weekend at the cabin for two, and unknown. I liked what I did, drawing Liz, using a Sharpie in a five-and-a-half by eight-and-a-half notebook, staying loose, and getting decent proportion and foreshortening. A lot of the conversation was about the economy, and justifiably worried. People’s livelihoods seem precarious, and that's perverse. If society is in trouble, you’d think we’d want all minds on deck and ready for assignment. If you can’t afford to have them there, you’re doing the wrong thing. The economy doesn’t stop on a dime and make change, but full, meaningful employment should be part of the design program.
I continue my slog through the permaculture Designer’s Manual. It’s not a kind of reading I enjoy or do well, but despite that, I feel I have found my path with a heart. Mollison’s program for H. sapiens has ultimate potential for soothing our hurts and the ending the hurt we cause the planet, yet we’re so far from following it -- there’s so much to learn and it's so different from what we know -- that the odds seem long indeed.