From the time of my teenage years, I toted a shotgun around and over Midwestern corn and stubble fields in pursuit of birds. Pheasants, quail, and a few ducks. Nothing terribly exotic. No deer or other large game. I enjoyed most aspects of the hunt but as I got older I tired of the killing, and often of the shooting. It was simply more fun to see what we preyed upon. That was good enough for me. My buddy Ray and I would road hunt at slow speeds, slurping hot coffee, talking, and hoping we’d see a rooster or bobwhite ducking in and out of cover. If it escaped our iffy shooting skills, fine. Back to the coffee and the talking.
My 20 gauge Beretta is now in Tim’s hands – I don’t think Reid has much interest in the sport – but there are no indications he’s taken it out of its case. It’s fine that he now owes it, as is ownership of this type of armament for most folks. But don’t lump me in with NRA cranks who would allow me to own military-grade weaponry because I can. It’s one thing to lead game in the air but entirely another to aim at people. How we have made the canyon-wide leap from legitimate defense of a populace during a Revolutionary War to guns that serve no civil purpose is way beyond me. And how, too, we have legislators who fixate on such issues when we face the economy we face, the health care issues we face, and the environmental issues we face (to say nothing of teaching children, where North Carolina is a paltry 46th in public education spending), is way, way, way beyond me.
March 7, 2011
Ellen/Reid: I wouldn’t worry too much about additional snows in the upper Midwest. What you do have on the ground will be gone soon enough. Down here the trees are budded out, the daffodils on their last legs, and the birds have paired off for nesting (although still no activity in my fancy cedar box). We’re only 5-6-7 weeks ahead of you. Only.
But our spring seems to have sprung some serious nut cases out of the cold ground in our two state area. There seems to be lunacy afoot, and this time at the legislative level. It seems we don’t feel our college students are safe enough without the “freedom” to carry concealed weapons on campus. As if there aren’t enough gun-toting whack jobs already loose down here. That’s all we need are amped-up students pulling out their Glocks at crowded bars or because their boyfriend or girlfriend strayed or a professor didn’t adhere to grade inflation. Somehow I seriously doubt the founding fathers had on-campus security in mind when they crafted the Constitution on the heels of a war where a citizenry had legitimate cause to defend themselves. On top of this, some lawmakers want to expand the notion of protecting oneself beyond the confines of their home. It’s called the “castle doctrine” whereby a zealot can use force to protect their car or their business and much in between. The legislature would allow trigger-happy folks to carry their weapon into a restaurant (“Hey, your service was lousy, take this…”) or a park (“Hey, curb your dog or he’ll get a piece of this…”). As one legislative pro-gun nut said in a local newspaper report, “…a woman threatened by an estranged spouse or boyfriend might need quick access to a weapon at work.” Perfect. In some ways I don’t mind legitimate defense, but Ellen, Tim has my Beretta 20-gauge and he is welcome to keep it for the intended purposes like shooting game birds, but heaven forbid any of us need anything else around the house. But I do like the weather down here.
I do wonder when we will return to civility on a grand scale. We seemed to have turned some corner toward a darkened path. Vitriol seems the byword of the day, and there seems plenty of vitriol to go around. Your late grandfather talked about this for some time, years, actually. He thought we were spiraling downward where if you looked at someone cross-eyed, that was all the license the other party needed to unload their verbal guns. I think, politically speaking, we have taken a lesser road that will be very hard to veer away from. All this is very easy to see from the front row seat in my glass house. This is, in part, why your uncle refuses to run for statewide office in Nebraska. He just doesn’t want any part of it. Hard to blame him.
I will probably head to Grand Island for Easter. From all indications things are winding down for your grandmother and I want to get out there while there is still time to see her. It really does feel the same way things felt at this time last year. There is a very real sense of urgency in that regard. Your uncle sees the rapid slippage far more than I do; as recently as last spring she was racing down the sidewalks with her trusty walker, and now she is confined to a wheelchair. Things have eroded just that quickly. I still resist his forecasts on time. None of us are in a position to make such guesses. I wonder what happiness she really has.
I’ll turn things around pretty quickly for Steve Allen’s wedding in Des Moines. It is the same day as Laura’s in the Twin Cities, although I will double dip by boxing things of your grandparent’s and shipping it all to Charlotte. No doubt some of it will come your way, Ellen, and some to you, Reid although I’ll consult with each of you prior to doing so. I don’t want you to have things you might not want or have room for. I won’t clutter your lodgings any more than we need to.