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Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Tuesday, 9:30 AM.  29 degrees F at the ferry dock, 25 on the back porch.  The wind is calm.  The sky is overcast and the humidity is 89%.  The barometer is falling, now at 29.81", before tomorrow's predicted snow.  The city roads are hard packed and getting slippery.  It is a very quiet first day of winter.
   Coming back from Ashland yesterday about 4:30 PM we stopped at the beach to take a little walk and let Buddy get a run.  It was almost dark, and the northeast wind had really picked up, rendering  it bitter cold.  There on the sand lay a huge log, probably red oak, over twenty feet long and at least two feet in circumference.  It had not been there before.  It must have weighed thousands of pounds. The lake had tossed it up on the shore as if it were a match stick.  Which brings me to the following discussion.
   At present, Congress is dithering over what to do with western dams that a congressional compromise has determined should be destroyed so that the "rivers can run free," and provide more water for certain species of fish which, ironically, have gotten along fairly well anyway since the dams were built. Removing dams to "free" the water sounds rather dramatic and poetic, but I would ask whether the water shall  know that it has equal rights.  Or  the fish be ever grateful and pay taxes.
   High dams are built of concrete, at great expense in dollars, labor and human life.  They provide cheap, clean hydroelectricity to millions of people.  They provide stored water to irrigate vast fields of crops; Idaho potatoes, Washington and Oregon wheat fields and fruit orchards, California berries, nuts and myriad vegetables and other crops.  Many thousands of Americans and Mexicans gain their livelihood from growing and harvesting these gifts of the earth, and millions of Americans are fed in the process.
   Modern America is constantly and radically changing due to technological, economic and social pressures.  Does it make any sense to laboriously build, and long-term invest in, infrastructure that would last for hundreds of years and give a good economic and ecological return on the investment, and then immediately turn around and tear it down or blow it up at further great expense before its economic life is over?
   What society, including our own, can continually build and then tear down, all on the changing whims of small segments of society?  Do the environmentalists and the Indian tribes and the politicians not have to eat? Would their hunger be satisfied if they were thrown an occasional fish?  How much should a potato or a walnut or a strawberry cost?  Is it our purpose and fate as Americans to be forced backward to the days of hunting and gathering, clothed in the skins of wild animals, and freezing in the dark?
   We are like Esau, selling our birthright for a bowl of porridge.  And likewise we shall regret it.

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