Monday, August 10, 2009

Along the lakefront, past and present

This morning it was about 6 a.m. when I started out--just a little daylight--for my morning walk. I scan our driveway and the streets pretty carefully. Skunks. In the dimness I can usually tell the two feral calico cats who stay fat and sassy on donations and small rodents from the skunk that lives under our neighbor’s porch. She comes out in the early morning hours to look for garbage that the renters have carelessly left in trash bags. I see the skunk scurrying across the road and wait. This has so many current political implications, that I think you know where I would go if I wanted to discuss health care scams in this post. In this light and distance, it is difficult to tell the smelly skunk from the wild domestic cats, except by the faint scent and past experience. The cats will come close, but run away if you try to get too friendly.

I had been hearing sirens for about 15 minutes, so I stop and ask the gateman if he knows what had happened. We have an excellent volunteer fire department here--usually you first hear the police siren, then the squad and fire trucks as the loyal, hard working locals are called to duty and many have sirens on their cars as they rush to the scene of the accident or fire. Noisy, but necessary. Again, I think of the political analogy of ordinary citizens called out of their sleep to sound the alarms that there’s been something really awful happening. This gate opens about 6 a.m., but he’s usually early. We all have plastic ID cards now. People who complain that “Lakeside isn’t what it used to be,” just might mean they can’t sneak in on someone else’s gate pass. Ah, another analogy.

Along the lakefront at the bottom of our street I see the 80-something kayaker I’ve seen every morning this summer. We’ve had delightfully cool weather all summer, and most days the lake is calm, but even on the mornings it isn’t, he stays in the protected area and pursues his course. He wears a tiny life preserver that I assume inflates if he needs it and a jacket. He is slightly stooped, but otherwise seems in excellent health--has benefited all his life from our excellent health care system, particularly public health measures (much of government health is good), from the pure drinking water, to quarantines for communicable diseases like TB and polio, to the invention of antibiotics, to vaccines, and possibly joint replacements, stints or organ transplants, so that he can enjoy a fruitful old age. There are some, usually gen-xers who don’t know him, or even their own grandparents, who think his good health and activity level are too expensive. But, this isn’t a political post, just thoughts along the lakefront.

This morning I don’t see the Canada geese that I saw last week. Then a flock of 28-30 were floating on the water, dipping their heads to pick up small items. One kept calling out to the laggards, who were floating along behind the main group maybe by a half mile. He was very bossy, but obviously they weren’t paying attention and needed someone or something to warn them of predators and people.

I pass a number of joggers who appear to only do this on vacation. My back has been bothering me since Friday, so I’m more in a strolling mode. One fellow quite trim is setting a good pace, and has a black brace on one knee. I see him later lying in the street stretching his legs to his chest--I suspect watching him limp which he wasn’t doing on the lakefront, that he has misjudged his fitness level. Another young man huffs and puffs his way past me. He is wearing a bandanna head band, cut off sleeve t-shirt and has many tattoos. Maybe this is what people mean when they say Lakeside isn’t what it used to be? I know I see young moms pushing babies in strollers with all the safety features looking like small Conestoga wagons that used to cross the prairies, moms with studs in their noses and tongues and tattoos on their arms. Truly, it is a bit of a culture shock, and I do wonder what it is about Lakeside they wish to expose their children to. Maybe they are here to visit grandparents, living on pensions, investments and Medicare, waiting for the cottage to be handed down to the next generation?

I pass a cottage we stayed in when our children were small--there’s a little boy about 6 or 7 doing trampoline jumps on the bunks on the porch that faces the lakefront. His shouts of glee can be heard by all the cottages close by. All the windows are open to catch the lake breezes, and apparently, he’s up and ready to go. Oh, I do remember those days! These days at least one or two rooms of even the oldest cottages have a window air conditioner, but this sleeping porch is open. Before the current administration’s love affair with cap and tax and environmentalist wackos, Ohio was a great producer of electricity. We do have our wind power advocates, usually with connections to the same owners of the coal fired product. People don’t become rich by being stupid or a-political! All with strong links in Washington, regardless of the party in “power.” Although they don’t want those ugly windmills in their line of view just as they didn’t have to look at the smoke stacks, either.

After 2 miles, I stop at the hotel to use the restroom, and decide to go back and do the lakefront over. It promises to be hot and muggy today, and this might be the coolest time to walk. I chat a minute with the night clerk, who will later be greeting me at the coffee shop. She graduated from college over the week-end and says she will return home and look for companies that might need some part-time help with a translator. Doesn’t sound eager to launch a career, and I suppose with the economy floundering with no change in sight for years, it’s not a bad plan. But if I had college loans, or were the parent who sacrificed, I’d be concerned by this. It’s a different generation than that which graduated in the early 80s after the big Carter recession after which the Reagan tax relief provided real hope and change.

The lakefront--past and present--and political.

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