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If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Winston Churchill.

If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Winston Churchill.

The good old days …

She was 11 years old travelling with her father in a cutter, following a trail on the Prairies. It was 1910.

Fifty some years later she told a school class, as they approached a remote ‘soddie’ her Dad said, “No smoke,” then they saw the red blanket on the clothesline — a 1910 emergency signal.

Inside they found a woman who’d suffered a miscarriage and two young children cold and hungry. Her Dad sent her to town for the doctor, 16 kilometres alone. They returned — the mother survived. A neighbour was found to care for her and her children.

Author Barry Broadfoot doesn’t identify the people in his unique series of books jammed with similar anecdotal history of the pioneers who joined the First Nations people in their land. (His books are history from those who lived it — wonderful stuff).

This lady ends her story with this comment: “Everything is done by the book these days, it seems, except educating them. One girl about 10 was to thank me. She said, ‘There’s one thing I don’t think I understand. Why would the woman ask her child to put a red blanket on the clothesline so somebody would come and help her? ‘Why didn’t she just phone the doctor.’”

“You know I wonder. I really wonder.”

A far cry from paved roads, all-wheel-drive vehicles, cellphones, and on and on.

You wonder how they did it? They certainly had to think, and do for themselves, and with a lot less, a big pile of less.

We are the cave men of the world of the future, fumbling our way amid dangers of our own creation. (James Shotwell)

Reading, listening, and watching …

To inform, to motivate, or to entertain are the three main purposes of making a speech.  For a long time I subscribed to the premise that newspapers, TV and radio operated on the same premise.

Television, of the three media formats, apparently has added two more to those basics:  “titillation” and “minutiae.”

 “Titillation” in my book equates to celebrity, celebrity equates to money,  money equates to fame, and apparently there’s an unwritten capitalistic, or is it just a media, tenet?

Anyway, the tenet apparently says, as your dollars reach the millions your intelligence skyrockets too. Einstein and his equals better watch out; money is making an end run on genius.

Bardot, McCartney and Bono are old hat I know, but they’re the only celebrity names I remember who blessed us with their munificent wisdom instead of minding their own business.

They resolved nothing, although they got our dander up, so maybe my friend’s comment fits: “Nobody’s useless, they can always be used as a bad example.”

 “Minutiae” partnered with “titillation” brings countless hours of TV celebrity reporting.

Conversation, quotes, close-ups and wide-angle lens distortions are but a beginning.  Lord t’underin’ as Jimmy says often, it goes from “he said, she said, they said, her Momma said, her Daddy said,” and on and on, for six generations followed by minutiae on habits: “She paints her toenails red on Mondays, blue on Tuesdays, white on Thursdays and sings the national anthem on Friday, or is it he that does that?”

 “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” That oft-quoted phrase from Gone With the Wind just came. Oh, oh, is there such a thing as minutiae-itis? Have I got it?

Talent should be appreciated, and I do. If it brings loads of money, good on ya mate, as the Aussies say, but proselytizing — put that in the vault from whence your messianic tendencies apparently spring.

In polite language. “We know more about our land and its ways than you ever will. Bye!”

Spring is another matter. All the images ever painted and photographed, all words ever written, spoken or sung have difficulty equaling soaking oneself in a fine spring day, especially with the wonder of a three-year-old holding your hand as you puddle along looking in the new green for that first crocus or robin. When the child cries, “There’s one!”, you’re surely as close to heaven as you can get.

One generation plants the trees, another gets the shade. Chinese proverb.

A tip of the hat to spring, a season whose glory they cannot know who do not know winter.  

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