Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Results Of Oxygen Deprivation Are Not Pretty

A couple weeks ago I burned out completely and ran away from home.

All right, maybe there’s melodramatic embellishment there; I didn’t “run away” so much as “vacationed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.” The glaciers went completely bugnuts carving up the landscape there ten thousand years ago, and in modern times the drought which plagued New Hampshire all summer ended the day I arrived in the state, because it always rains when I visit northern New England.

But my Traveling Companion and I had one clear sunny day, on which we rode the aerial tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain. It’s not tall enough to have a treeline, but on the mountaintop there’s a stunted conifer forest whose tallest and oldest trees are only around twelve feet high. Most of the trees were my size or smaller, and as I towered over the treetops I noticed a couple girls walking through another part of the miniature forest. They wore long black skirts and at first I thought they were Goth but soon realized they were actually religious; after several more long black skirts I saw an Orthodox Jewish patriarch, complete with yarmulke and long curling forelocks.

Proportionate to the population, I saw more Orthodox families in and around Franconia Notch State Park than anyplace else, even New York City. I also saw families from India, heard a few European languages I didn’t recognize, and felt a warm fuzzy glow about how wonderful America is, with our tolerance for races and creeds and blah blah bullshit, because I paid no attention to the news while on vacation and thus didn’t realize that the toxic opposition to the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” had metastasized, with anti-mosque/anti-Muslim rallies springing up throughout the country.

But – my dismayed self thought upon returning from her vacation – at least I can be happy because we’re finally out of Iraq, right? And heaven knows the country needs that money we’ll save not being there anymore. Except I keep reading how we’ve still got 50,000 troops there, which I always thought constituted a “significant military force” but we’re out of Iraq.

“I could knock down every tree in this forest with the sheer force of my mighty hands,” I said to my Traveling Companion back in the stunted forest, as I reached out and patted a treetop that came up to just below my neck. “Here in Hobbitland, I am a giant.”

My Traveling Companion smiled. I often say such things; they’re hyperbole, not hallucinations. So no need to fear the thin atmosphere which produced those stunted trees also deprived me of oxygen and left me loopy, right? I certainly didn’t think so – yet I really did think I could knock most of those little trees if I wanted to. And I really did kindle warm thoughts about E Pluribus Unum and the American way, even though I knew about the anti-mosque nastiness before I left on vacation.

Oxygen deprivation. Maybe that explains why I keep reading “50,000 troops still in Iraq” when everybody else keeps saying we’re out of there. What other theory makes sense?


Blogger James Hanley said...

Welcome back. I, for one, have missed you. And I hope you had a delightful time while away.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous the innominate one said...

"...stunted conifer forest whose tallest and oldest trees are only around twelve feet high..."

krummholz vegetation

3:37 PM  

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