I spent last weekend up in the country, which was a good chance
for me to slow down for a moment and reflect.
I went up to the country because I love it there, a peaceful
haven from all the siren sounds of New York City but I also
went up because I am registered to vote up there and Tuesday
was election day.
Claverack is my official home. It is where my furniture is,
my car, my books, all the things which are really
part of my life the things I treasure when I touch
them. It is my home, in the deepest sense of any place I have
After we moved in, and knowing that I would one day be living
there full time, I decided that I would make it my official
home, full time, now.
So I spent a great weekend up there, reading all the papers
my regulars, the New York Times, the Albany Times-Union
and the Hudson Valley Newspaper, being responsible and getting
into all the issues, national and local.
The weekend was crisp and clear; its getting to be winter
here and heavy coats and sweaters are a necessity. A good
wind blew leaves off the trees and all across the deck and
drive. The creek was often mirror like, reflecting the remaining
foliage in its slow and peaceful journey. A wild turkey made
its way across our yard and at 5:30 each day the deer came
across the far side of the yard and crossed the water onto
the farm across the way.
There were no house guests, no dinner guests, no friends dropping
by just ourselves. Tripp worked in the yard and I weighed
the issues of the world. I was pretty sure that this election
was going to be important and I thought through my voting
choices more carefully than I have at any other time in my
Tuesday morning came, brisk, with a steady, firm wind blowing
out of the south as I woke up before the first light of dawn,
had my coffee and showered. Bundled in my old but favorite
leather jacket, I drove over to the fire station at the intersection
of 9H and 23 and walked in to vote.
As I walked in, I smiled because there was a huge, hand painted
sign across the front of the fire station inviting everyone
to an Election Night dinner there at the station, to watch
the returns. You dont usually find that at the polling
places in New York and Los Angeles.
The fluorescent lit room, a bit bright for my early morning
eyes, was staffed by friendly folks from Claverack, men and
women with lined faces that had, I suspect, lived there long
before the city folk began coming up to Columbia
County in such numbers. These were the old time farmers and
shop keepers. I gave my name to a very nice lady who dithered
her way through her records, unable to find me. At the other
end of the table, another lady thumbed her set of records
and said something like: Pooh, Alice! Hes right
here. Tombers on Patroon.
I, very likely, was one of the first ten or twenty people
to vote. As I entered into the booth and surveyed and made
my choices, I felt connected to the democratic process in
a way I am not sure I ever have felt before.
It is, I suspect, because I think of that house on the Claverack
Creek as my home more than I have ever thought of any other
place as home. But it is also because I am aware of just how
important the process is.
All weekend, reading my papers, I was staggered by the weight
and the importance of the decisions that were going to be
made all across the country on Tuesday.
Now that the results are in, whether we like it or not, the
country has spoken and there is, again whether we like it
or not, or agree with it or not, a kind of unified tone to
the voice of this country as it faces itself and as it faces
the rest of the world.
As I write this the United Nations Security Council is about
to vote on another Iraq proposal, the consequences of which
could include military action. President Bush has been on
the phone today with both Putin and Chirac, gathering, he
hopes, their support.
As I write this, the markets are down and the Fed has just
lowered interest rates again because the economy is in deep
water. The Senate and the House and the White House are in
Republican hands, a step further to the right than we had
been just a week ago.
On Tuesday, I voted for both Republicans and Democrats, my
votes based on my interpretations of each candidates
positions on the issues that they will be tasked to face,
locally and nationally.
The cold of winter is upon as are the cold realities of what
we will be dealing with in the months to come and, as a country,
we have voted to face those realities with a Republican voice,
a conservative tone and a militaristic stance.