This Montana summer day is sweet and cool in a rare way. The smoke has diminished to tarnished light that gives it an unreal quality like that of a stage play, tinted and shafting through flickering trees only beginning to shed one or two yellow leaves. The animals are sleeping in pairs/trios with their arms around each other, partly embracing and partly bracing against each other’s furry bodies, a little too warm but still so soft. I myself keep wandering back to the bed where the fan is off but natural breezes are moving briskly across the bed through the window alongside so that I need to keep my bare feet tucked under the comforter.
Last night I took an Advil to sleep because my shoulder ached from wielding the weed whacker, but also because my head buzzes with all the information coming from Washington DC, normally dormant and dispersed this time of year. Not only is there a disclosure a minute as people resign or are fired or indicted, but the number and kind are a challenge to my map of the USA government. And the names are often Russian, hard to remember. A hero takes a cancer bullet to the head. A figure of ridicule who can’t rub two words together without confusing them suddenly stands up/takes a stand and leaves. On the local level the sheriff of Glacier County has quit and the sheriff of Pondera County is facing a recall petition for incompetence.
Tall grass is now hay on the ground, but the volunteer trees remain.
When I lie down, the kind of reverie ordinary in dreaming during sleep becomes a flood of irrelevancies and ironies and self-incriminating paradoxes. In Portland my K-12 cohort is gathering for a cook-out and one of my classmates says he’s happy to see I’m “enjoying” Montana, as though it were a performance on an IMax screen. I’ve been reflecting about the impact on a child’s mind (mine) of WWII when we were in kindergarten and I asked this guy — whose mother was a close friend of my mother — what memories he has. He deflects by talking about an athlete who joined up voluntarily and thereby destroyed the possibility of having a champion record for hitting baseballs while people watched.
Then the cats come with their bad smells — where DO they go? — and I deflect off to my failure to maintain this property to community standards or even to standard function. Why are there no licensed plumbers who know what to do about old houses? But if I didn’t have this house, I’d be paying rent that rises to half and more of my social security income. Houses all over town are sporting “for sale” signs. The sheriff says he can’t get good people to live here. The school superintendent says there are no houses good enough for teachers with families. Newcomers immediately set about changing everything to the ways they're used to.
I see scattered beautiful middle-American ranch houses, complete with lawns, and some specially architect-designed places because of Swank Construction being here. Mixed in are the old Thirties houses like mine, square plans divided into four rooms with an added-on bathroom when piped water came. The two kinds of houses shelter two populations seemingly irreconcilable — just like the rest of America.
Zuckerman, the Facebook guy, just now came to the rez because he went to Governor Bullock and then Senator Tester to find out the secret of Montana’s conviction that they have real communities. Executive Chief Harry Barnes did not put on a headdress or beat a drum. Instead he personally drove Zuckerman and his entourage around the recent rez developments — which tourists never see because they are built on the open ground around the town where they are accessed on spoke roads. I wonder if someone made the alley-sitters by Icks go somewhere unseen and take their dogs with them. (If the dogs weren’t prevented, they would have gone along anywhere. That’s what they do.) The drunks and dogs ARE a community.
They took Z and company over Going to the Sun so they could all gape and exclaim “how beautiful”. But when the Secretary of the Interior was chosen, he was a Montanan explicitly opposed to preserving national monuments and parks. One way to build community is to threaten to take away something that is part of their deepest devotions. The first step towards that is to monetize — charge admission, allow concessions, open to resource exploitation. When a respected enviro came, he was prevented from meeting Zinke.
Did they introduce Zuckerman to the victims of cyber-bullying on the rez? The sexters? Did they explain why internet service is thin to none? Did they admit that people rallying into secret groups to oppose government is scary ? Did they explain how celebrities routinely exploit rez folks? (Who love it.) Did they give him a slice of huckleberry pie? (I hope so.)
Adversity builds community; peace and harmony disperses people. In winter we're a community -- in summer we have company. Can that be right? People come together when they help each other and share consensus about what help means and how to provide it. This area was dominated for a while by missionaries who “helped” people to be Euro-Xians, and made the old indigenous ceremonies into felonies. Citizens -- who are barely making enough money for three-bathroom houses with as many computers as televisions and who go through their days supported by music-with-a-beat and coffee-with-a-kick -- do not want to come to town council meetings. Or run for office. They don’t sit down together to look for solutions, but simply rail against leaders by using slogans. Leaders are not parents who can come up to school and make things right.
But saying that sounds too much like railing against the citizens. Why rail against anyone? And I do NOT want to spend hours hunched over in Starbucks trying to figure out what the smartest people think. I’m not sure they DO think. Not with the evidence I have. The real way Trump got into office is that there was no one else who was convincingly worthy. When we finally get rid of him, one way or another, who will be the replacement? Why aren’t we examining the process of nomination as carefully as we are the actual voting processes?
The most frightening and cynical realization is that the FBI and CIA have known about this criminal laundering and hacking coming out of Russia for YEARS. They knew Trump was drawn into it by the debts he incurred through his own mismanagement. The evidence was carelessly there all along. But they didn’t tell anyone before the election for two reasons: they didn’t want to blow their progress on building a major significant case; and they didn’t believe Trump, the sleazy clown, could be elected. Even the underworld didn’t think Trump was electable. Even HE didn’t think he was electable. And now I suspect he wishes he hadn’t been.
The day is warming up. My wandering is becoming angry. This is not productive. I made muffins with so many berries and nuts in them that I call them Pemmican Muffins. Time to eat a few and swig cold tea I brew in old peanut butter jars the size of tumblers but with the advantage of screw-on caps to keep cats and gnats out. I have a heap of sewing to do.