Flash Fiction #189

Signs

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

I’VE SEEN THE SIGNS

When the Europeans came to North America, the natives did not own the land. They felt the concept to be silly. Land was like the air – ever and unending. Groups might squabble about who could live or hunt on some portion of it, but The Great Spirit had put it there for all to share.

The White Man soon taught them about ownership and possession. Corporations and governments, which also didn’t “own” the land, sold chunks of it to groups and individuals. Soon, the walls went up, and then the fences – first stone, then split rail, and finally, wire fences.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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After the fences came the signs – signs meant “to keep all the other people out, and to keep Mother Nature in.” Click to hear the Five Man Electrical Band decry the restrictive commercialization of our land and society.

Friday Fictioneers

 

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Noble Savage

Indian

I recently read an American Thanksgiving-related post about the candy-coating of the Pilgrims/First Thanksgiving story, bemoaning the ill-treatment of the Indians (We’re indigenous – and it’s not India.), by the White Man.

They robbed graves, stole our land, enslaved us, murdered our children, forced their Christian religion upon us and gave us smallpox.”

I already question, and have problems with most of these claims, but the argument is adversarial.  If the Whites are portrayed as ‘Bad’, then the Indians must be ‘Good.’  I simply do not believe that.

The stereotype of the Red Man as friend to Earth, steward of Mother Nature’s glories, is bullshit.  This tale comes from White Man’s Guilt and media, and has been eagerly accepted and rebroadcast by the Natives.

Some years ago, there was a ‘Give A Hoot, Don’t Pollute’ TV ad, showing a bag of garbage being flung from a car onto a highway, and a proud Indian, complete with feather, weeping at the spoliation of the pristine landscape.  Problem was, the ‘Indian’ was really an Italian actor.

When the white man arrived, the Indians didn’t own the land.  They had freehold use of it by right of occupation or right of conquest.  This was the law of the land at that time.  The Whites didn’t steal it.  When they took it, they did it exactly as the Indians had been doing for centuries.

A tribe of Indians would settle in a fertile area, and begin to rape Mother Nature.  It might take several years, but, like a colony of army ants, they would strip it clean.  They would over-hunt and over-fish, until there were no deer, moose, bear, geese or fish.  Population would go up and available food would diminish, until children and old folks were starving, then they would pack up their teepees, and move to (literally) greener pastures.

If there was another tribe where they wanted to resettle, war would break out.  Men, women and children would be tortured and slaughtered, till one group or the other moved on.  The Hurons ousted the Eries.  The Iroquois forced the Hurons out, and they all took slaves from those they conquered.

In exchange for smallpox, the Indians gave the Whites syphilis, a disease unknown in Europe at that time.

Preserving culture and heritage is a great thing, but the world will move on, with, or without you.  My small hometown abutted an Indian reservation.  Back when there were still manufacturing jobs in Southern Ontario, we had four small factories in town.  Indians with sufficient pride and initiative got jobs in them, to purchase food, clothing, TVs and cars.

This was not a matter of ‘the White Man’s way’ versus ‘the Indian way.’  This was “The Canadian Way!”  Those who didn’t take jobs didn’t dress in buckskins, and hunt and fish, or gather roots and berries from the forest.  They sat around in dirty, worn clothing, on the front stoops of decaying hovels that Mississippi Negroes wouldn’t live in, waiting for their next Government cheque, so that they could buy booze.  They weren’t enslaved, or prevented from working, and most of them weren’t Christian.

One proud young Indian joined the Canadian Army, and served in Cyprus, keeping Greeks and Turks from each others’ throats.  He felt he’d like to come back to retire, and began building a house.  Every time he came home on leave, he and his friends and family worked on it, first an excavation and foundation, then framing and roof, later, walls, plumbing and wiring.

After about three years, he came home, and entered his little jewel.  While he had been away, a bunch of the stay-at-home thugs had broken into it and partied – hard! – several times!  They had built a campfire on his unprotected living room rug, burning a hole in the floor, to the basement.  At least they didn’t burn it down.

Beer bottles were smashed.  Broken glass was everywhere.  Holes had been kicked in the wall boards.  There was a large pile of excrement in one corner, but it had been smeared, by hand, on most of the walls.  He threw up his hands, said, “I don’t want to live here anymore.” and never came back.

A mile offshore in Lake Huron, there was a particularly rich area where fish fed.  For years, 3 or 4 fishing boats went out every day, set nets, and brought back hundreds of pounds of fresh fish to sell.  Finally the white man completely fished out this ‘mud hole.’

When the White Man signed a treaty with the Indians, a clause was included allowing them to hunt and fish.  Since fish boats didn’t exist here 200 years ago, it seems clear that the intent was for personal or family use.  The Indians drove a loophole in the contract.  A group of them bought one of the now-retired boats, and proceeded to scrape up the last few surviving fish.

The history of European immigration does not always show the White Man in the best of light, but a close look reveals that the Indians are neither the heroes nor the victims that many would have them be.  Because of population pressure, white men did wholesale, what Indians did retail.

 

Spring Forward – Fall Back

Nasty old Verna Equinox – AKA Mother Nature – has been toying with us this year.  She’s promised us since March the 21st that it’s Spring, but, like a drunken bar pickup, it’s a lot of talk, and very little action.

Despite Verna’s claims, it’s not really Spring until it warms up, and she just keeps teasing us.  Hold out a little sunshine and warmth – and then snatch it back with an icy hand.  Hold out a little….well, you’re living through it; you know what I mean.

We all want the warmth of real Spring.  We need it.  We hope for it.  Some of us pray for it – except in California, where they’re praying for rain.  They’d even take the forty days and forty nights, and out there, where Sodom meets Gomorrah, they might get it.

I think we all have those ‘It’s Really Spring When….’ benchmarks.  I know I do.  This year, every time we reached one, and hope began to blossom, Frau Nature took the proctology scope out of the refrigerator and said, “Bend over and cough – Bitch.”

It’s really Spring when all the snow finally melts – and two days later, I’m sprinkling the last of my urea crystals to melt the ice on my driveway and sidewalk.

It’s really Spring when you see your first robin.  The first one I saw was in a clothing store in the mall, buying a North Face insulated parka.

The ‘really Spring’ point for the gardener wife came a couple of weeks ago, when the nearby supermarket assembled their outdoor garden center.  We might as well buy plastic plants.  They’re just as hard, and they won’t wilt when they thaw out.

I thought I’d finally reached the ‘really Spring’ point Sunday night/Monday morning.  The ‘warm Spring rain’ had been coming down steadily for hours, and had finally melted the permafrost that is my front lawn.  The grass was so sodden that the poor earthworms were drowning, and were crawling up and out of the dirt to breathe.

Monday being garbage day, I was taking out the trash at 3 AM so that the neighbors would not be blinded by my sartorial splendor.  It’s really Spring because the earthworms are out of the ground, and all over my driveway.

Here I was, lugging two bags, and daintily pirouetting down the driveway, avoiding worms, in a pair of fleece shorts and slippers.  It’s not that I believe in the Hindu/Karma thing.  It’s just that She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t take kindly to having worm guts all over her floors.

Two days later, BrainRants could have used the worms like frozen spikes to hold down the planks on his rebuilt deck.

SDC10802

The above photo of my deck was taken at 3 AM Tuesday April 22nd, Earth Day.  Really, snow?? Again?? C’mon Ma Nature, over a month since you claimed it was Spring?  Have a hot flash or two.  I am so looking forward to putting away my ice scraper and snow shovel….  Wait, that means I have to get out the rakes and lawn mower.  🙄

#449

March Madness

I know it’s April! I’ll get to that.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana

Of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, a wrinkled sack of aches and pains wasn’t on my list.

I can’t brain today. I have a bad case of the dumb.

It’s finally Spring here in Southern Ontario. I know this, not because the robins are back. I’ve heard them for almost a month, but actually saw one on March 31. Not because the little kids have their skateboards and bicycles out, and the bigger kids, me excluded, finally have their motorcycles out, but because, on March 31, as I saw my first robin, I was on my way to the supermarket two blocks away – and they have their Garden Center set up in the parking lot.

And just to show how pissed Mother Nature can be when you don’t get her a nice enough card for Earth Day….  After a week of 60s and even 70s F temperatures, last night she put a big cloud over my total Lunar eclipse, and dumped an inch of snow on my driveway and deck.

The Ode to CWC6161 post, which I published last August 10th, was found by her younger sister, who left a lovely comment on April 11th, thanking me for my friendship and concern for Candice, as well as the tribute I posted. While not a happy thought, she provided closure, and confirmation of The Kindly Hermudgeon’s death. As a sad irony, she died on September 21, 2012, my 68th birthday. The sister must have informed friends/family. By the end of day, I had had 4 views of that post.

The grandson phoned to ask for a ride the other day. On Saturday, May 10, he and his fiancée have a chance to enroll in a one-day Introduction to Falconry seminar. This will be a full day, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Not being a driver, he thought it was near Hamilton, ON, an hour drive. Actually, my research shows that it is just off the main highway, about halfway there – only a half-hour drive, so I won’t have to get up quite as early.

Falconry??!….WOW. They may never use what they learn, but still, a very interesting day. It’s way out in the country. I may catch up on my sleep in the car, and might have to drive somewhere to score a lunch, but I just couldn’t deny them this opportunity.

At the recent Detroit gun/knife show, one of the exhibitors had an old, original movie poster as part of his decoration. From the days when the western was king, this 1951 movie was titled “Snake River Desperadoes.” It was populated with never-really-made-it, C-list actors.

The only name I might expect even my older readers to recognize and remember, was Smiley Burnette, who went on to fame and fortune as the engineer of the train that pulled into Hooterville, on the Petticoat Junction TV show.

The name on the poster that caught my eye, was Tommy Ivo. Tommy was a showboating, California drag racer in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He helped form the sport as it was becoming organized and sanctioned. I thought that his nickname, “TV Tommy” had been because his fame got drag racing televised.

Research shows, however, that he was a teen actor, as taken with racing as he was by the silver screen and the new boob-tube. He used some of his acting income to hire expert mechanics to build engines and bodies, which he and his youthful reflexes piloted.

He was a showman, and a forward thinking racer. Understanding the Power to Weight Ratio idea, he was one of the first to install two smaller engines in one car, while others were striving for bigger power-plants. He first placed them one behind the other, and then in subsequent vehicles, learned how to synchronize them side by side.

Despite the death of James Dean, most studios didn’t have forbidden-pastimes contract clauses. His employers didn’t seem to realize what dangerous ways he was spending his off time. Finally, just as he was 20, they caught on. That was the year he produced the aptly-named “Showboat” race car.

Taking the power to weight thing to the max, he built a 4-engine, 4-drive wheel dragster, with big drag slick tires on all four corners. Sadly, the initial thrust of acceleration torqued the front two off the pavement just enough to lose traction and spin the front tires uselessly. Instead of getting added traction and speed, all he got was a crowd-pleasing cloud of smoke, and slow times.

The studios ordered him not to race anymore. The racing body were afraid that his crazy contraption would injure him or someone else, and refused to let him compete in it, and only allowed single-car, display runs. His racing year ended when a small-block, Pontiac-engined, single-motor dragster defeated him for the top prize.

Its top speed was 179 MPH. The same scientists who mathematically “proved” that the bumblebee can’t fly, insisted that the theoretical top speed in the quarter mile was 177 MPH, and dismissed it as an optical illusion, or equipment failure. When it happened again and again, they learned about “directional friction.”

Tommy did a few more resoundingly forgettable movies and TV shows. Unlike many, he wisely invested his income, and used the dividends to become a racing developer and sponsor, helping to make drag racing into the profitable spectator sport it is.

Oh yeah, why March Madness in April?? Because it’s a great title. Because I’m fractured and forgetful, and because, as usual, I’m late and behind on things. “Scuse me, I gotta go have a talk with the Easter Bunny about some more of those Easter Creme eggs.