“History is important. If you don’t know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.” – Howard Zinn
A few years ago I read, The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Until then, I thought I knew history. Well, as much as any other American I suppose. What I came to realized was that I only knew what had been taught to me – what was allowed to be taught to me. Without hesitation I believed that those “teaching” me were not to be questioned. I’ve come to realized that as a people; as Americans in fact – we need to question, to examine, to dig and demand. Only then can we begin to understand who we are as part of a community…..
I find when I ask people what they think of Chicago they either love it or hate it. There is no in-between when it comes to Chicago; like when I ask someone what they think of San Francisco or Miami. They either say, “I love Chicago, what a great city” or, “It’s too hot and sticky in the summer and too damn cold in the winter. I hate it.” Personally, I’m of the loving kind when it comes to Chicago. Would I live there? Probably not. It’s too big for me. However is it one of my favorite cities to love up? Yes indeed.
While in Anchorage, Alaska this past weekend a friend and I rented bicycles and rode fourteen miles on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The natural beauty of Alaska is breathtaking and we were reminded of the wonders of nature at what seemed like every turn. Not only did we pass eagles fishing for their lunch in the waters alongside the trail, but also happened upon a bull moose foraging in the woods. His antlers blended in so well with the leaves surrounding him that had it not been for his enormous size and dark brown fur, we’d have biked right on past him. After turning around and heading back into town, we were again stopped dead in our tracks after rounding a corner on the trail and coming face to face with a cow (female moose) and her young calf. She seemed so serene and her baby almost oblivious to us, however we weren’t taking any chances and quickly back-peddled to a safe enough distance and waited for her to move off the trail and into the woods.
While I found the moose to be majestic, nothing compared to a few old trees I happened to spot along the way. One reminded me of an old woman with a spear – fishing for her dinner, and another seemed to have the shape of a Native Eskimo – dancing along the bluff. The trees were so strange, so odd, so old, and I was immediately enchanted at how much character they had. Surrounding them were lush trees overflowing with green leaves and young fresh bark, while these old gals wore the years of harsh weather like some great ceremonial coat. Charles Baudelaire once said, “Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.” I completely agree with Mr. Baudelaire as I most certainly always see beauty in strangeness….and trees