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America the WHATiful?? On:2004-04-30 17:31:28

When þe nyghtegale singes þe wodes waxen grene
Lef ant gras ant blosme springes in Aueryl Y wene
1
...of course that's before the temperature soars into the grillions and all hope dies down here in Texas (and stays dead, until after Labour Day at the very least) and, come to that, I'm not sure if I've ever actually heard a nightingale sing or even cough noticably down here; or in fact any sort of a bird apart from those insane looking pidgeony things, the occasional sparrow frothing at the beak and the insane and vicious looking skinny corvoids, but I'm sure you get the general springy idea.


Anyway the weekend before my birthday I went for a walk on Sunday in the park with my daughter Rowena. Now Rowie is a ten-year-old who definitely seems to have a mind of her own (possibly more than one) and so our expected quiet walk on the smooth (if incredibly coarse) Texas grass became... well since it was under the auspices of her whom we have been wont to call "Attila the Honey' our stroll became something akin to the campaign of 451 A.D. as my little Flagella Dei swept down on the unsuspecting Gauls of East Plano. Actually we swept more through them than on them as she had her sights firmly set on the woody untamed bit at the far edges of the park, which she no doubt hoped was where the wild things were---and if there weren't any there before she arrived you can bet that there was at least one afterwards. So we plunged on through the high grass and the thickening trees and the (I hope) lack of snakes until we came to the creek. Texas tends to prove that old gnome "It never rains, but it pours", you see there are two stable states in the State of Texas: one is bone, gasping dry and the other is rain so hard you can't even see that all the roads are several inches deep in water: so that explains the creekrowenaupthecreek, or at least explains its classic oxbow design and the sheer thirty-foot banks that we just had (well, you try arguing with her), we had to struggle down (and then even worse to struggle up again), using tufts of grass and dead fallen trees and every available limb, human as well as arboreal.

In spite of all that (or perhaps as I should admit because of all that) it was a thoroughgoing good time (especially once I caught up to her) and the little wood and creek looked absolutely beautiful.
Or at least they did till we had a moment to really look at them; when all at once their look became relatively marred.

What is it with people?
I can't think of a better way of putting it than to say that, in spite of all those "Crying Indian" and "Don't mess with Texas" ads, here we were surrounded by.. by.. by the vomit of the city still wrapped in its plastic or paper barf bags, presumably swept here by those wild rain storms and exacerbated by the common Texan belief that re-cycling is for whimps and worse.

[Sigh!]
We talk (or even, I believe, occasionally sing) of America the Beautiful, and I've been all over it and it is! Or rather great chunks of it are---exquisitely beautiful, but those aren't the chunks where we spend most of our time---most of us, quite frankly, live in America the Ugliful, and I'll give you several guesses as to why, and I bet every single one of them will be right!

 When we finally got home quite bruised and exhausted and still troubled by the crippled creek I happened to start going through the photos I took last time I was back in England. They were of my home town which I think of as just a boring average town, definitely not attractive by English standards and only interesting to outsiders because we have one of the very rare campanile in Britain---and that's only because in one of the flattest parts of a not verythecreekupthecreek mountainous country the good inhabitants of Beccles managed to build their church right on the edge of a cliff so there was no room for a proper English church tower. But when I look at my pictures of the place they look quite lovely (and clean), now I suppose I should allow for the possibility that it may be that I take better UK photos because being born there gives me more empathy, but I can't help picturing that creek

Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.




Notes:

1 Nyghtegale
"...When þe nyghtegale singes..."
The beginning of a forteenth century love poem from the Harley Lyrics.

'When the nightingale sings, the woods grow green.
Leaf and grass and flowers sprout in April, believe me'

or something like that.




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