Thursday, September 22, 2011

Say hello to the Moderate Majority

I've got to admit, I was a little surprised.
When I wrote last week's column about the tenth anniversary of September eleventh, I figured I was sort of hanging it out in the breeze when I confessed that there was a lot about that world crisis and the events that have followed it that I just don't understand. And I figured suggesting that maybe it was time for a little forgiveness would really fall flat.
But I was wrong.
While I'm sure there are some readers out there who don't agree, I received a gratifying number of notes and calls from people who were in tune with at least some of what I had to say.
It made me think.
Because whether the topic is politics or religion or even the weather, it always seem to be the strident, "my way or the highway" voices that get airtime. As a result, it's easy to think that our nation is mostly made up of two entirely polarized camps--one being ultra-conservative and the other ultra-liberal.
I don't believe it.
Instead, I think there is a majority of citizens who share a more moderate view of things.
People who see both sides of an issue and believe there is room for compromise.
Folks who don't claim to know everything about everything.
A moderate majority, whose political and personal views are based on what's right and fair, instead of what serves special interests or a party line.
Unlike the “silent majority” of the Nixon/Agnew era and the so-called “moral majority” of the 80’s, I think the moderate majority is real and ready to listen to and support some reasonable, progressive, non-partisan thinking.
Is anybody listening out there?
Packing light.
We were on the road earlier this week, heading home for a short visit, a wedding and some business before returning to eastern Carolina for a continuation of our babysitter/beachcomber lifestyle. We do a fair amount of traveling, so you might think we’d be pretty good at a challenge that’s been faced by voyagers from Christopher Columbus to Neal Armstrong.
Packing light.
There are certain items, like the two tubs containing our camping gear and the smaller container that holds essentials like passports and checkbooks, that go with us whenever we set out on a journey of any significance.
But while the inclusion of those items is a no-brainer, it apparently takes a bigger brain than mine to figure out what clothes to pack, especially when traveling from one latitude to another during a change of seasons. I clearly remembered needing to buy long pants last year when an October trip to Vermont found me in shorts and goosebumps, so I was sure to pack extra fall-weather togs that included pants, sweaters and socks to supplement the beachesque shorts, sandals and t-shirts I’ve been sporting since March. I assumed she was dealing with the same situation, so I was a little chagrined when she handed me her luggage to load in the car.
“Here you go,” she said, handing me a smallish bag that made me, with my overstuffed duffel, look like a fashionista heading for a long weekend in Cannes.
“Is that it?’ I asked.
“Yep, except for my carry-in.”
A carry-in, in our terminology, is a small bag containing just enough stuff for an overnight stay, like something to sleep in, a change of clothes for the next day and toiletries. We learned a long time ago that it’s a lot easier than lugging a bulky valise in and out of the car, whether we’re camping or stopping for the night in a hotel.
Sure enough, on my next trip inside, she handed me the backpack she usually uses for overnight stops, leading me to believe she was packed and ready to roll.
Or not.
Soon, another small bag appeared. Then another.
Me: What’s this?
She: Oh, that’s my OTHER carry-in.
Me: But I...
She: And my shoe bag/carry-in.
Dutifully, I loaded and re-loaded the car, piling her litter of carry=in bags on top, while giving mine a hearty shove to make it fit in the now-overloaded space.
As she got in the car, she cast a kind, but inquiring eye over my packing job and my bulging duffle bag. She didn't say a thing, but I swear I could hear what she was thinking.
"Honey, you've just got to learn how to pack light."
More time for turtles
We didn't expect it to be anything too out of the ordinary. Two sea turtle nests near our place had hatched a couple of nights before and it was time to "analyze" what was left. An analysis is the process of digging out the emptied nest to see how many eggs actually hatched and if there were any unfertilized eggs, deceased baby turtles or live babies left behind. We had missed the hatch, but took our grandsons along to watch what came next, thinking both they--and we--might learn something from the whole process.
But there was a surprise in store.
Earlier in the week, my sharp-eyed, turtle-watching spouse had discovered and reported a nest invaded by a marauding fox. A rescue effort discovered several "pipped" eggs, with the young turtles just beginning to emerge. The babies had been taken to a safe place to complete the hatching process until they were ready to release.
The boys were thrilled to see a bucket full of teeny-tiny turtles close up, but that was nothing compared to what came next.
"Do you two boys want to help?" queried the turtle wrangler in charge.
Of course they did, so five-year-old Cyrus and three-year-old John each carefully carried a baby to its new life in the sea.
"It's kind of like they just got the first bell of Christmas," whispered my proud, thrilled spouse.
"Too bad you didn't bring a camera," said a nearby friend.
Yeah, but I don't think it's a picture we're ever going to forget.

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