This Land, Independence Day, 2019

Revised & Expanded July 4, 2019

Sheet Music snapshot

Click for music sheet PDF.

I want a new national anthem for the United States.  I want it to be Woody Guthrie’s 1944 song, This Land, and give him the Congressional Gold Medal for it.

If they won’t replace the current anthem, let there be two.  And why not?

My parents’ generation fought World War II.  Actually, my father and his father were in the Navy in the Pacific Ocean at the same time during the war.  This closeness of my generation to that war made it fresh in our collective mind during my youth.

Fighting with Germans was a very popular TV and movie theme (think Vic Morrow in Combat), and we saw propaganda movies made during the war, too.  “We,” in my case, being German Americans.

That paternal grandfather in the Navy in WWII was a “first-born American” to German immigrant parents.  My paternal grandmother’s family was rooted partly in Berlin, Germany.  My mother’s maternal grandparents came from Slovenia to the coal mines of Forest City, Pennsylvania, near Scranton.  My maternal grandmother was born in Slovenia and “brought over” as an infant.  So I’m the grandson of an immigrant and the great-grandson of several other immigrants.

It’s an amazing world, where my connection to Germany was “flavored” by TV-steeped kids teasing me, calling me a Nazi because my name was German, and the Italians were Guineas and WOPS (“Without Papers” … yeah, undocumented immigrants coming over a wall thousands of miles wide in fathomless water … but they climbed that wall), and the Puerto Ricans were Spics, and the Jews were Kikes, and Vietnam gave us Gooks and there were Slopeheads before them, and the Spooks, the Niggers, the Jungle Bunnies, the African Americans, who seem almost never to get a break no matter how long it’s been since they began “immigrating,” people who are more American than almost anybody.  The nation would not exist without them.  Could we have funded the American Revolution without Black slave labor?  (And this is really “Marlboro Country” when you think about the role of tobacco in the Revolutionary economy.)

In this endless American atrocity of degrading, abusing, cheating, even killing human beings because of their color, ethnicity, nationality or religion, we can include putting an ethnic class of law-abiding American immigrants AND CITIZENS into concentration camps while members of their same ethnicity fought for this country.  This is the Japanese in World War II.

They don’t fit the immigrant model, but Native Americans were subjected to genocide, not merely because they were deemed “savages,” but because they were in the way of American “progress.”

This is America, where there are always people underfoot and people walking on them, power thriving on senseless hatred, until the tides turn.  Then, new groups become the underclass (or get added to the list of existing ones).

I guess that’s an immigrant nation for you, where they fight to get here, fight the consequences of being here because they are lowly immigrants mistreated by the “citizens,” then they go fight and kill their relatives “over there” to protect what they’ve been fighting for over here, then become allies with the enemies.  Amazing.  Pay your dues in the blood of both heart and soul, and become American.

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Getting Life in the Fresh Air (Nature Writers I Follow #3)

I suggest that you fellow admirers of nature writing explore the blog, Life in the Fresh Air; An exploration of life, nature, creativity and tai chi, authored by Sarah on the edge of the Lake District National Park in northwest England, including her work in “poems, photos, painting and writing, inspired by nature, landscape, gardening and tai chi.”

In particular, I recommend these two poems, the ones that first caught my attention:

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“Sweet Darkness” by David Whyte

David Whyte:
I went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences that I had in Galapagos. Science, rightly, is always trying to remove the “I.” But I was really interested in the way that the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos, I began to realize that because I was in deeply
 attentive states, hour after hour, watching animals and birds and landscapes — and that’s all I did for almost two years — I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had, inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs, but my identity actually depended on how much attention I was paying to things that were other than myself and that as you deepen this intentionality and this attention, you started to broaden and deepen your own sense of presence.

I began to realize that the only places where things were actually real was at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you […] But it’s astonishing how much time human beings spend away from that frontier, abstracting themselves out of their bodies, out of their direct experience, and out of a deeper, broader, and wider possible future that’s waiting for them if they hold the conversation at that frontier level.  […]  John O’Donohue, a mutual friend of both of us, used to say that one of the necessary tasks is this radical letting alone of yourself in the world, letting the world speak in its own voice and letting this deeper sense of yourself speak out.  -David Whyte, speaking in interview with Krista Tippett (full transcript and audio)

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Die as I should

Often when I walk these woods I get awe-struck by the enormity of all these trees cradling me, nursing me in mind and body, opening themselves to me, entreating me to surrender ever more fully to their care.

Autumnal view of a big American beech (with splashes of maple and balsam fir)

I have no idea how many trees are in Balsamea, so I say ten thousand.  It’s probably a drastically low estimate, especially if you count all the little ones just getting started.  I also say I’ve walked these trails ten thousand times, but I know it is many more.  I just stopped estimating when it reached ten thousand.  It’s all too much for me, and never enough.

I am immersed in the virtually miraculous nature of this unbelievable gift in which I swim.  I did nothing to deserve it or earn it.

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I live not in myself …

“I live not in myself, but I become a portion of all around me … Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part of me and of my soul, as I of them?”  -Lord Byron.  See the full poem at the end of this post from which this quote is derived.

Of course that’s what I always say when asked what I am.  Actually, I often take it as far as saying that I am all that is not me.  Yeah, well … never mind.  A line for another time.  But do read on for something that makes sense to normal people.

I stumbled onto this quote at Joseph Cornell’s Sharing Nature website.

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Celebrating Ice Storm Tree Arcs at Balsamea

ARC: a part of the circumference of a circle or other curve
… and sometimes much more than that, or inspiring it

The ice storm of December 21-23, 2013 bent many trees at Balsamea.  Here are some examples, and thoughts about trees …

This clip from the top of a poplar tree is one of my favorites.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s the sky.

Ice-Storm-Arcs-00-Poplar-20131224

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

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Rivers

Like addicts, in our weakness for the allure of rivers we risk everything to live on their banks.

River1_SRPUA_20130804

Photo 1: At the first official campsite created in the Saranac River Public Use Area of the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement, Goldsmith, NY

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