Bring the rain, indeed. “Urbs in horto.” I have an elevated view to the west and see a haze of green begin to appear across the landscape. The uniform gray-tan of winter failed to reveal the amount of forest hiding in plain sight. We live in a place of seasons and humidity. Green things fill every space with soil and light. The geography supports rivers and flood plains. Good things begin with the rains of spring.
We see the results of balance and imbalance, don’t we? Yes, it snowed in April; no, the third ice-age did not begin.
I am convinced the little things each of us do, or refrain from doing as a habit, will make a difference in the long run. I now have re-usable water bottles instead of sacks of empties. Durable shopping bags are far better than plastic. Habits to change…conveniences I thought were real for some reason. The waste was just there. It has been the easiest thing in the world to embrace a solution.
And so we turn the corner on a notable winter season. There were moments it seemed infinite…but we knew better, didn’t we? It was a time of change and new adaptations to the world.
One of the most significant subjects for thought is our environment as the condition of climate change is amplifying. I worry for my many friends up and down the west coast. Between uncontrollable wildfires and flooding, it’s hard to imagine the greater danger. These incidents happen with more regularity and intensity.
Here in the Midwest, our seasonal changes are commonly dramatic. Yet who ever heard of a “bomb cyclone?” Whatever you call the phenomenon, rural areas across the heartland are devastated, some will never see normality again in our lifetime.
My fantasy of retirement somewhere along the Gulf Coast is now tempered by the reality of a capricious hurricane season. The notion of a “season” has has morphed into “who knows when?” and their escalating power is frightening.
In spite of these concerns, spring is coming into view, literally and figuratively. We understand the issues and regardless of any political chicanery, the coming generation gives me hope for change. A part of the answer will be the accumulated small acts each of us make to improve our planet.
In the mean time, let’s get out for a walk! It will do us good.
Let’s also put the world’s nihilism aside and sit with a good book. The manifesto I repeat every month remains consistent: read! Read everything; read the good and bad news; read fiction and history; read the box scores! Encourage reading with your family and friends. Get away from the smart-phone and computer for a measured time every day and read. It is the greatest civilizing force humanity has ever known. It elevates us.
Many thanks to the talented eye of David Jewell for our banner image. May it be the first of many.
It’s a new month and the writers a Central Standard Time are here for you. We hope to start a conversation, listen to new ideas, and grow for the effort. We’re so glad you joined us.
I am proud to welcome Mike Kerr to the blog. Mike recently published his first novel, The Legman, and it riveted me to a chair from the opening chapter. Without spoilers, let me say it’s a story for every Chicagoan, and every reader that enjoys a mystery. You can find it at Amazon.
My thanks to Ellen Harder for her cityscape photo. “Great view from my rooftop, simultaneously beautiful and ominous…” A magnificent capture by any measure.
Something tweaks the air. The cold weather is coming. In the Midwest we give it names, “Alberta Clipper” is a thing. The ebb and flow of the seasons in these latitudes is a blessing to all humanity. The freeze culls out the old and weak so the species stays strong. Push me on to Lake Michigan in a rowboat with no oars. Abandon me on the ice for the polar bears to eat.
The truth is my complaints are small. Retirement affords me limited direct engagement with the elements. I can remember waiting on the El platform under the radiator lights, the top of my head burning and my feet numb with cold.
Our shorter days promote “seasonal affective disorder,” a term that produces the acronym SAD. Dare I say dark humor? I find the opposite emotions at play. The big city is a different kind of light and never really dark. Whether you love or hate the classic holiday season, it is an explosion of artificial illumination, a good deal of it joyous by intent. It’s time to plan an after-dark visit to the center of the city.
It’s also a perfect time of year to read. Get comfortable with a hot beverage and exercise the brain, open new vistas, envision other thoughts. Central Standard Time is pleased to bring you one of the finest writing guilds on the internet. Join Steve Buschbacher, Tom DeMichael, Rainee Denham, Brule Eagan, Joseph Gardewin, Michelle Jackson Jewell, Marc Piane, John Zielinski, and yours truly, Joe Tortorici, at the round-table for conversation. The floor is open.
Please like and share your favorite articles. Comment to the writers, we love that. Be sure to visit the Central Standard Time and Contact pages.
It cannot be said enough…VOTE. If you are able, reach out and help others vote. We, the proletariat, are given the opportunity to shape the government. Let’s do it well.
The atmosphere flipped a switch and autumn appeared. You can feel it in the air when you wake and decide to cocoon under the covers for a few more minutes. The morning sky has a pearly opaqueness. The first cup of coffee is a religious experience.
The great forests of the Midwest surrender their greenery for a palette of colors straight from the canvas of Van Gogh. I live in the neighborhood of Caldwell Woods, on the far Northwest side of Chicago. There is a long stretch of Devon Avenue that curves through the forest and for a moment, all evidence of the city disappears. You enter a towering arch of brilliant yellow foliage accented with the rusty deep red of Maple trees. Chicago’s motto is “Urbs in Horto” – “City in a Garden.” Indeed it is. Make this journey throughout the coming fall season and watch the genesis of living art.
As October sets in, let us also complain about the dearth of Halloween sales, Thanksgiving marketing, and the all-too-soon Christmas/Hanukkah orgy of “buy this, right now.” Here it comes! I find it wiser to reflect on the innocence of this season in a melancholy way. We were once children and it was a world of joy and good sweets at the table.
Speaking of sweets, get away from me with the “pumpkin spice!” (One of my all-time favorites is the Pumpkin Spice dog food…tell me how the animal knows.) I will, however, concede to massive amounts of pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Try to stop me, I dare you. Pumpkin pie transcends the individual holiday celebrations and uniformly blankets the season with a five-pound weight gain. Ah well.
Get out and walk, my friends. It’s “sweater weather” and a time for deep breaths of crisp air. We can hope for the occasional tendril of smoke from burning leaves.
I am pleased to introduce a new page from the talented Michelle Jackson Jewell. I anticipate this is the first of many.
…and take us with you! Central Standard Time can be viewed on your tablet or smart phone.
Welcome to the October edition. There is much to talk about and we ask you to join us.
Shortly before the March 24 “March for Our Lives” demonstrations I contacted David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez via Twitter to ask what art (musical, visual, written word) helped keep them inspired and energized. About a week later David Hogg posted this. I’m sure the timing was only coincidental to my query because he likely wades through hundreds of messages every single day. But still, I had to smile.
CENTRAL STANDARD TIME – A SPECIAL EDITION
Are we at a threshold? What is the point of activism if neither rage nor outrage appear to be working. The innateness of good and evil hasn’t changed, so, what are we missing? The battle for social justice needs a new strategy.
These stories of activism and acts of personal strength portend a season of change.
How is a cell phone mistaken for a weapon? Twenty rounds later, another brown person is dead at the hands of frightened policemen. It’s always the brown people. Really… here we are again. It is impossible to narrate the dozens of similar incidents across the country, so let’s review the video of this one, again and again. Stephon Clark committed no crime, possessed no weapon, and, likely, never knew what hit him. End of story.
Can we clarify the effectiveness of activism, because neither rage nor outrage appear to be working.
A significant time approaches and I wonder if our culture is willing to seize the initiative. A succession of events is merging to form a nexus, begging important questions. It’s time to deal in new concepts; a time to make daring plans and not settle for less than what serves us and our posterity. Everyone is involved, everyone.
Bold decisions require action. An effective start is changing the population of our government with the vote. How will we gauge their competence and awareness in the course of events? What will be the litmus test? Specifically, let’s see major progressive legislation, of the daring and audacious type. Why not raise the level of conversation and impose greater expectations, not “what we can get” laws that serve no one.
So many events, so many questions:
What will it take to stop the murder of young men of color? Why are they expendable? If life weren’t already tough, they settle gang affairs with guns, at the same time fighting a war with police. It’s everywhere and never stops. What quality of life includes a percentage likelihood of gun related death? Ask them to vote, I’ll wait.
The web of immigration intrigue entangles huge swaths of society. Add a systemic promotion of fear and “It’s the brown people” mindset. Resolutions to immigration and the flow of labor across the continent are inevitable, and in everyone’s favor. Global economies flourish, limited economies fail.
Women have every reason to take a stand. Statistics point to a wave of female candidacy across the country. Will women vote?
Advocate for the Assault Weapons Ban, demand it.
A group of smart young people in Florida embraced the big-picture from the beginning. They reached out across the country; Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, north to south, and they see a greater malaise. They are not asking permission to make change. Will they vote?
Where is a strategy for future industries to fuel the economy and support our social structure? If we insist on nostalgia to feel secure, let’s borrow from the Republican genius of Eisenhower; the National Defense Education Act of 1958; The International Geophysical Year; the infrastructure titan interstate highway system; it was civics on a grand scale.
The welfare of each citizen is connected to all. Will we vote for social safety nets, will we vote for science?
Then there are the increased white supremacist advocacies… they vote too.
Trump is the old log we kicked over and all of the creatures come pouring out, crawling, scattering, and burrowing out of sight. The cold underbelly of interest and identity politics is laid bare. Fat maggots, tentacled, multi-legged, fast movers, the backdrop of a million tiny beings, all chaos, moving as one.
The lighter view is we are living a cartoon saga. Matt Schlapp versus Tom Perez in “Celebrity Death Match.” Stephen Miller as Grima Wormtongue, whispering in the despot’s ear. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, my god. The con and the marks. The president can’t find a good attorney. Russia!
I have answered my own question. Here is the intent of activism. We must remain vigilant and aware of serious issues in a world mugging us with information. The sideshows will end. The ship-of-state will right itself when we participate.
Education remains the strategic high-ground. A groundswell movement is at the grassroots as teachers across the country are rightfully upset and they are beginning to demonstrate. They march. They speak out. They vote.