city versus country

A friend comments that the country used to outnumber the city folk but now it’s the other way around, and that the split in our country is about values.

Hmmm. I am thinking about that. I am a city girl AND I am a country girl, both. We moved every 1-5 years and I was in cities and in the country. However, my family also had two anchor points. My mother’s family has shacks on a lake in Ontario, summer shacks. My father’s parents had a house on the beach in North Carolina on the outer banks. Wind and water in both places and we never watched tv in either place, because we were outside until we fell exhausted into a tent or into bed.

I don’t agree with my friend. I think we ALL share some values: that no one should go in a school and shoot kids, or a church and shoot people, or a store and shoot people. Right? We all agree on that if we are sane. That is a starting point. I read the mediation books when my (now ex-) husband was getting certified. The mediators start by trying to find the common ground.

I am pretty much equally comfortable in my small town, the woods, on the water and in cities. My friend warned me about Seattle being dangerous now. Well, it’s a matter of scale. I went to high school in Alexandria, Virginia and I lived at 3rd and Massachusetts in Washington, DC back in the 1980s. I was pretty careful just walking to the metro in that part of Washington at that time. I pay attention in Seattle, but in these cities I know what I am paying attention to. I ended up alone on a metro car once at night. A man got on at the next stop, looked around the car, grinned and came and sat next to me. I thought, oh, Sh-t, this is not good. I ignored him and continued staring at my book.

“Hi, what’s your name?” he says.

“I am reading.” I say coolly.

“Come on, honey,” he says.

I shut the book, stand up, and he lets me pass. I stand by the metro door until the next stop, get off that car and get on another car with more people. The car did have emergency alarms, so I could have hit one, but he let me by so I didn’t. I was kicking myself for being alone on the car, but honestly: what a stupid nasty male chauvinist threatening jerk. I shouldn’t have to worry about this crap. But after that, I didn’t get lost in a book on the metro because I had to pay attention to avoid being alone on a car. Annoying as can be.

My friend says he gets lost in cities. I don’t. I start building a map in my head when I arrive in a new city. It is completely automatic. If I am driving, it’s based on the highway. If it’s by airplane, it includes the airport, the hotel, the conference center. I have been to San Antonio once, but I stayed at a hotel along the River Walk and the conference center was towards the center and south. I could draw part of the city, still. I love maps!

I can’t say that I would be comfortable if dropped in a city in another country, necessarily. I was pretty happy on my trip in March, which was abroad. There are levels of familiar and what are the languages in common? Are there any?

What are these values that people might be split on? I read that people are polarized and can’t get along, but I don’t agree. I did Family Medicine in this town of 9000 for 21 years, and I had people from town, from the county and eventually from three other counties. I had nine people who had to take a ferry to see me. Talk about inconvenient for them. My people are all races, all genders, age zero to 104, all different stripes of politics. I don’t care what their politics are: I am there to see if I can maintain or improve their health. This could mean anything from encouraging exercise, doing a pap smear, diagnosing diabetes to discussing hospice and end of life issues or telling someone that I do not think they are safe to drive. This is not about “pleasing” people: recognizing opioid overuse in a person does not endear me to them. But it is about doing the best I can for people and with people. And isn’t that a value we all share too?

Now we have common ground, two areas to stand. Grow that space. Peace me, work for justice and kindness and peace to you.

I am a poet

I am a poet and the world is my oyster. I eat it daily. I take my knife, dull but strong, insert it twisting into the shell, and pry the world open. I admire the glistening juicy living contents. A splash of lemon or pepper, I cut it from the shell, tilt the shell to my open mouth. This living glistening world slides into my mouth and I taste it’s salty goodness, it’s raw oysterness, roll it around my tongue and teeth, bite and chew it, and swallow this delicious world. And eye the plate, choosing my next victim.

Maybe

Maybe
You could be a cat
Independent
A bit snotty
Refusing to share your thoughts
Keeping your secrets
Enjoying refusing to answer questions
Macavity the mystery cat
when something happens
He’s never there

You could be an elk
Guarding the herd
While the elder ladies
Lead it through the woods
At certain times of year
You bugle
And want them
And they/we/I mew
And you find me
And we both enjoy it
Very much

I am a cat too
independent
I will travel alone
If you won’t travel with me
I will find other music
If you won’t play with me
I enjoy it when you come round
Very much
I keep my claws sharp
Just in case I need them
If I long for cuddles and purring
That is my problem

I am a lady elk
Confident in the woods
I let you do the guarding and bugling
While I lead the herd
Up and over the ridges
The spine of the mountain
The spines of the dragons
Elwha and Sol Duc
I know them well
I hear you bugle
And think about whether this time
I will mew
Or not
I have found new forage
And the loggers are changing the forest
You bugle anyhow
Even if I am distracted
I like to work
But I like to mew too

Maybe we will come together
Now and then
Cats
or elks
or humans
Maybe.

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My father read me T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats when I was little. He loved Macavity the mystery cat, called the Hidden Paw. And my goodness, the cat outfits in this show are quite something!