Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Someday Everyone Will Have to Live Like I Do."

My dad passed away from a brain tumor 12 years ago. My siblings, our children and wives and my Mom gathered in Southern California to visit his grave and celebrate his legacy. I'm thankful to have escaped the Orange Curtain; the Bay Area is a (mostly) good fit for me ideologically. I love my family, even (especially?) those who voted for Bush each time and McCain this past election, but I'm a better fit up here in diverse Obama-land.

It's clear from the actions and attitudes my family takes that my dad's legacy is one of service. There's also an undercurrent of thriftiness. We reuse and recycle and generally are horrified by gluttony and excess. Both Al "buy something new to go green" Gore and post 9/11 George "go shopping and save the economy" W. Bush don't have messages that sit well with us.

I had a wonderful, frank conversation with my Mom. She's been curious about solar electricity for a while. As I described how the best candidates for solar power are people who are living massively consumptive lifestyles, she shook her head.

"My electric bill is about $12 per month," she said. "I heat with lumber from my part of the forest and I have to fill my propane tank a couple of times a year. I'm on a very limited income, so I don't buy much. I think about how much stuff there is to buy and how many people's jobs depend on selling more and more new stuff, and I know it just can't last. I imagine someday we'll all live as simply as I choose to, but out of necessity because everything just came apart."

Recently, her power went out and she cooked in her fireplace. "It was inconvenient but I was just heating soups or such so I wasn't in danger of burning myself."

I'd enjoy taking her to Cuba, where they've already transitioned from an oil economy, and are finally doing quite well, thank you. If I wanted to pick a fight with her, I'd point out that her political party of choice is largely responsible for our gluttonous oil-energy based economy of ever-greater-consumption, but we'd end up talking about taxation and Al Gore and I just wanted to visit.

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