Sunday, September 1, 2013

Labor Day at the lake: Honor Labor!

Labor Day weekend at the lake. We weren’t going to come because this last weekend of the summer is crowded and busy. It ends this weekend; once we took vacation here with Adam and Herbie and came down on Labor Day itself, and by that afternoon and for the rest of the week it was quiet and beautiful.. We came down mid-day Saturday, 95+ degrees, took a couple of hours for the house to cool down.

I did make good on my promise to wake up early no matter what time we went to bed (moderately late after watching “Murder by Decree”, a Sherlock-Holmes-finds-the-real-story-behind-Jack-the-Ripper with Christopher Plummer and James Mason), and was rewarded with a truly Homerian rosy-fingered dawn. Sunglasses were superfluous for quite a bit of my 90 minute kayak trip down the lake and back, as the clouds that made the dawn beautiful precluded a real sunrise. I had hoped to miss the noise and wake of powerboats, which I largely succeeded in doing (but not completely; some fisherman get up early and really need to go FAST across the lake to get to their quiet fishing spot). I hugged the shore, hoping for early-morning wildlife sightings, but was largely frustrated. Down a narrow cove I saw movement, and watched a deer feed; later in the shallow water of the inflow stream, I surprised a great blue heron, but the viewings were sparse.

While there were not many powerboats, there was a continuous booming in the background. I try to convince myself that, despite the early hour, it is fireworks from the folks who figure any holiday is good for fireworks. But …today is September 1, the first day of the 9-month hunting season around the lake that began last year. My neighbor, who was here Friday night, says there were fireworks at midnight and guns at dawn, a day early. They do not sound like shotguns, too many single shots in a row – and “only” shotguns and bows are allowed right around the lake, not rifles. So maybe it is fireworks, or maybe it is rifles farther away…the walk-in hunting in the woods is supposed to begin across the road from the lake road. I take heart in that, and the fact that, as I paddle down the lake, the noise seems to get neither closer nor farther, so maybe it is far. Maybe I will not be an accidental target in my yellow kayak. Pretty confident. Pretty confident, but not, I fear, totally. And it cannot be good for seeing wildlife.

We didn’t come until Saturday because on Friday night we went to the preview performance of the premiere of Daniel Beaty’s “Tallest Tree in the Forest”, about Paul Robeson. Written and performed as a one person show by Beaty (and directed by Moisés Kaufman), it was excellent, and should be seen. One of the Robeson songs that Beaty performs is the “Ballad for Americans” by Earl Robinson and John LaTouche. One of the most popular songs of its time (per Wikipedia, “In the 1940 presidential campaign it was sung at both the Republican National Convention and that of the Communist Party”). It is worth reading the lyrics of and listening to http://www.lyricsty.com/paul-robeson-ballad-for-americans-lyrics.html, among them:
Well, I'm an
Engineer, musician, street cleaner, carpenter, teacher,
How about a farmer? Also. Office clerk? Yes sir!
That's right. (Homemaker?) Certainly!
Factory worker? Yo
u said it. (Mail carrier?) Yes ma'am.
(Hospital worker?) Absotively! (Social worker?) Posolutely!
Truck driver? Definitely!
Miner, seamstress, ditchdigger, all of them.
I am the "etceteras" and the "and so forths" that do the work.


Tomorrow is Labor Day, and we celebrate the “’etceteras’ and ‘and so forths’ that do the work.” In this era of billionaire financiers and too-big-to-fail banks, Labor Day is the day for the rest of us.
In the spirit of Rosie the Riveter: Honor Labor!


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