These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the devil's highway

i will try not to make tis a political statement. but it might end up being that, despite what i'm going to write about.

tuesday night i was assigned to attend a talk by luis urrea on his book "the devil's highway." it's an account of 26 people crossing from mexico into arizona through an area of desert called "the devil's highway." fourteen of them died. it happened in may 2001.

urrea is an imporessive speaker, serious, yet making jokes. not really jokes but musings that made the audience at hope college laugh.

to make his way toward the book, he first gave background about himself, where he came from, his roots, his relationship with his parents and his missionary work that eveually led to the book. it all tied together.

he talked about his mexican father. his white mother. his birth in tijuana and moving to an area near san diego, calif. he talked about being called a greaser or wetback. he as a child he said he took it literally and would check his back, which was not wet, nor did he have any grease on his body. that made people laugh.

but his talk centered on immigration. he said it was a human issue. i think most people try to make it abstract or link it to other things like terrorism. sometimes i wish those people who say that would really lsten to themselves. what self-respecting terrorist would attempt a walk through 100-plus temps through a desert to get from mexico to arizona when it's so much easier to walk across from canada to america? no one.

with this situation, so many people perish trying to make the trip to america, the land they view as being bountiful. they take those risks to get here to make money and send back home.

i talked to a womanamed dora after the talk. she said she's torn. she's mexican and american. she knows it's wrong that they cross illegally and that they need papers to be here legally. however, she has family in mexico that earns $7 a day to support a family and they talk about "the united." they see people like dora (who works for a school district as an aide) as having luxury items. it's the perception they have because she lives here. perhaps it's not much but it's probably more than what they've got. in fact, it is.

dora also mentioned a child at the school once talking about coming over illegally with a group that included his family. one in the group was an old man. they group went on and on. the old man couldn't keep up. the boy remembers the group having to leave the old man behind because he couldn't keep up. if they'd stayed behind, they'd all be caught. i guess the boy never knew what happened to the old man. one can only wonder. he may have died of exposure and been picked clean by animals.

what a harsh reality. people go through so much to get here. they make it. tey're scorned, jailed, beaten, driven off, called derrogatory names. why? because they're brown peole with darkhair and eyes, who have thick accents, can't english very much and are seen as second class people.

would they do that to canadians? probably. they look pretty white. if they get rid of the "eh" there's no problem. they'd fit right in.

it's easy for an issue to lose any sort of "face" to it. when thee's no face, people see the problem and never realize or know the humans behind the issue.

as urrea said, we need to talk about it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

a time to move on

the time has come to move on and let nature take its course.

i am not talking about me going anywhere. what is moving on is time. the seasons.

we're several weeks into autumn. and while the cool temps have yet to really hit, there's something in the air..." to quote genesis. the air feels crisper. days are shorter.

the most visible thing are the leaves. they're falling. not all trees are experiencing it yet, but when i walked to the washington square store saturday, i encountered several trees whose leaves were yellow/orange, with many of them already on the sidewalk and yard. it struck me because there are still many "green" trees left and the sight was somewhat shocking. but pretty.

i enjoy fall. i like the cool weather and the season changing. it'sa lovely segue to winter, at least up here it is, anyway.

however, i'll be a little down come november and surely in december. why you may ask? well, i'm fond of our front yard. the two pieces between the walkway up to the porch look bountiful, with a combination of grasses, small shrubs and flowering plants as well as some vines that are beginning to grow ona tressel. there are flowers, mostly yellow and purple, that still adorn some of the plants.

in fact, i planted a large yellow-flowered plant sunday to a corner of the lawn. it looks like it belongs there. that side, the one on the left, needed some more color.

and i spent much time during the week watering the lawn, carefully spraying water over the various types of flora. i reach down sometimes and dig a finger into the ground, beneath the wood mulch and find the dirt wet. i know there is plenty of moisture there and the plants and floweres ae being cared for.

in addition, there is a small side yard where various herbs, peppers, tomato plants, small rose bushes and other plants are growing.

there is a small strip in teh back yard along the fence to the west. it's really only a section between the edge of the back of the house to the first tree, maybe 12 feet long and it stretches from the fence to an area five feet to the east. the border on that side is a strip of grass running north/south that i removed from the front when i added more flowers and plants up front.

there is a point to all of this.

as much as i love autumn, it's a time to move on. soon the days will shorten, winds pick up, frost in the mornings, then the inevitable snow.

with that change comes the eventually death of the plants and flowers i've so carefully watered and kept alive. yes, i know they are perennials and they will revive come spring. and i'm sure they'll come up even more brilliant and bigger. however, when i come up the walk in december, i know the flowers and plants that have greeted me with their presence will be gone.

do i sound mad? perhaps. perhaps to those who don't enjoy a good time gardening or caring for plants. i find it relaxing to water the plants. it'a time to reflect or to not think at all, simply relax, but the brain on park for a bit.