Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Now listen. . .


Even though Willa Cather never moved back to Red Cloud, Nebrasks, part of her never left. Her finest work is a testimony to the life she lived out on "the Divide," on some of the most unforgiving land one can find on the Great Plains. 

But make no mistake, back home she still had her druthers. For instance, she thought life out in country was vastly more interesting and stimulating than life in small towns. In fact, some critics call it a theme her fiction--once the country people move to town, a town ethos whittles off their sweet and thorny eccentricities and interesting people become, well, bovine.

When she lived in the country she was surrounded by American ethnics--Germans, Bohemians, Swedes, and imports like her own grandparents, from the east or the southern U.S.  In the country she lived in a simmering melting pot swimming with ethnic peppers cut on the slant.

I couldn't help thinking of Cather this weekend when the Dutch skating coach shot his big mouth off about the lackluster performances of the usually reliable American skaters. "We have found something that makes the suit very fast--," he quipped when asked about the America skaters whining about their supposedly dreadful apparel, "the man inside the suit."

Sometimes I think Dutch-Americans shed their brash in-your-face bluntness more quickly than they did their wooden shoes--or certainly their language. Ask some real Dutchmen what they think and you'd better be prepared to duck because out there in the lowlands there's no connections whatsoever between discretion and valor.  Truth is ever unvarnished. Fortunately, Coach Anema was in Sochi and not Green Bay or he would have ridden out town on a rail in a cape of tar and feathers because he said--he actually did--football "sucks." 

I am, as we speak, in the land of the cheeseheads, in the cheapest motel I could find, hoping I could write these words and not have some Packerland SS squad break my leg simply for repeating it. Can they tap cell phones?

That was his criticism anyway--Yanks waste their athleticism on a sport that sucks--football. 

Rush called him a "little commie SOB" and a "glittering jewel of colossal ignorance." There are those who say, of course, that any Limbaugh bushwhacking generally means there's wisdom in abundance somewhere. 

Anyone who's been around the Dutch much--not their sweet and reticent relatives in Siouxland and western Michigan--knows very well that if you ask a wooden shoe for an opinion, you may well get a sharp stick in the eye. Could be dangerous. Sometimes is. But sort of fun, too, as long as no one gets hurt.

By this time, Coach Anema is likely back in Gronigen, a royal hero after his skaters won more medals than most countries and dominated speed skating as no country has dominated any single sport in Olympic history. 

Who cares, right? We got the SuperBowl, after all. All they got is soccer, a bunch of skinny minnies in orange t-shirts.  And, oh yeah, tulips.

And cheese. not the really good cheese either.  want good cheese, you've got to. . .well, you know. 

(SSSHHH.  I think there's someone outside my window).

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