When I worked for newspapers, several editors who had been put out to pasture were given a chance to keep writing a column once a week or several times a month. This was a kindness to them and, since they had decades of accumulated wisdom and had a bit of a following, also pleased and benefitted readers.
But there was a pitfall that was not immediately apparent. For awhile they opined on their old turf, on political maneuvering or the to and fro in the capital. But as time passed they became increasingly out of touch with the players, cut off from their old sources of scuttlebutt, and frankly less interested in the quotidian round that had once seemed so riveting but now seemed rather ephemeral.
You could tell a change had come when they began to write less about the outrageous bill up for a vote or the crony boondoggle just uncovered. Instead, their inches were now devoted to nostalgic tone poems on bygone harvest days on the farm of their youth when the frost was on the pumpkin. Or they began to obsess about seraphic birds warbling on the feeder out their back window, and what to do about the satanic squirrels intent on plunder.
When this kind of copy threatened to become a habit, it became obvious it was time to pull the plug or delicately offload them to a place where they’d be more at home, what used to be called The Women’s Pages.
This little history came to mind recently because I caught myself about to wax poetic about the daffodils along the walkway, the first of the iris turning their glorious purple faces toward the finally resurgent, refulgent sun.
It occurred to me it was about time to return to the Farmer’s Market of a Saturday to stroll among the first offerings of Spring and to luxuriate in anticipation of all the bounty to come in the weeks and months ahead. First the delicate greens, then the first tomato dripping with flavor, and at last the high season of sweet corn, melons, peppers and every other good thing the earth can bring forth.
And then it occurred to me it had been a really long winter, and if I didn’t get a grip pretty soon I’d be hanging a feeder and rocking on the porch and gazing at the dear little songbirds at their meal. And then I would feel what few brains I still possessed dribbling slowly out of my ears.
Frightened, I hurried back indoors, turned on the real news, then the fake news at Fox and Comedy Central, flipped past Duck Dynasty and the Bitchiest Housewives of Boise and breathed a sigh of relief.
God was not in his heaven and a whole lot was still screwed up with the world. I felt my brain sputter back to life. Too early to think of relaxing. It isn’t safe. There be dragons here.