It’s snowing joylessly again in central Pa. The little snowflakes are not dancing; they are sad and lame and guilt ridden. They don’t want to be here either. You can see it on their little faces. Yeah, like us they are held hostage by polar forces too strong to argue with. Slippery roads and a house fire or two. Shoveling and salting driveways. Cold, wet feet below, high utility bills above. Let’s get right to it– this sucks. I’ve never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Maine or Minnesota or Montana, but I get the sense that this vaguely grey, slushy, sunless snowscape is what they endure every winter without whining. Also, these states all start with “M”, which is the only non vowel a frozen mouth can make. (Take a minute and try this mouth experiment at home. I’ll wait.) I mean, I’m watching the Winter Olympics in Russia, RUSSIA!!!, with weather envy. I know, be strong like Lance Armstrong, but I’m not that strong. I’m whining without access to the illegal dope he took. God, forgive me, I’m sick of this snowy stuff and I’m turning to my blog nationals for help.
Friends of ours are traveling to Arizona and dutifully sending back pics on Facebook. I feel like a starving man standing outside a gourmet restaurant when I look at their snaps of New Mexico and Arizona. “Feed me! Give me some sunshine and warmth!! Take my down trodden and hopeless down jacket and make a soft downy pillow with it.” Nation, we need a Statue of Liberty in the Southwest that beckons old farts like me. Just set her up around San Antonio; super size her so people in Dallas can see her at night. Write the original sonnet on Miss Liberty’s shins big and bold.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; [No]
Here at our sea-washed shore, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, [Yea, Baby, Burn!!]
whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. [on Main Street]
From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; [like a Motel 6 sign that’s always on]
her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. [Brooklyn counts, folks]
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. [how does that work? ventriloquism]
[here’s the money line]
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, [your asthmatics in the attics]
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. [i.e. shrimp shells and plastic bags]
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, [or a tossed salad with house dressing]
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus [Go girl] [would you like a window seat?]
Sounds very liberal and big government to me, but that was a long time ago, doncha’ know? We have tightened immigration reforms in the meantime. Oh no, I mean we were gonna do that, but six or eight administrations later we haven’t.
Well, that welcome poem was pretty dramatic. Not so sure we still embrace that attitude these days. However, I am not here today to speak to immigration but to simple migration. The birds do it annually and no one calls them weak willed weanies or jilted Jennies. It just makes sense to me to go where the warmth is. Birds do it; bees do it; even upscale fleas do it. In my case that warm world would be Tucson, Arizona. It’s where Jo Jo lived before he bought some California grass, and got back, got back, got back to where he once belonged with Lance Armstrong. Days are long and sunny, dry and livable there. Yes, I know the summer sun will sauté my brains by 10 a.m., but I’m willing to trade my heavy down comforter for a piece of cool shade.
I’ll put on some Doug Sahm records and dance western swing with my ageless bride… in four years on a smoothly worn tile floor. Outside our humble adobe abode will be cacti and stone and metal arranged whimsically but artistically in our tidy yard. Lizards will scamper about and birds I don’t know will perch on tenacious tree limbs. The tenacious aspericus is any dang tree that can grow in a desert. Like most desert plants they have spikes or razor wire adaptations to keep desperate animals from eating them in hopes of slaking their endless thirst. Yeah, that’s where I want to be. Also my granddaughter lives there. I could walk with her any winter day in a simple shirt, maybe a sweater in the mornings. She’ll be five by then.
My people emigrated from Ireland in two different waves. My father’s people came over early; my mom’s people came at the turn of the last century. The thing is this– someone from both families left an intolerable land behind and risked a great deal for a better life. Usually it’s a young studly guy who risks all to go for his fortune or fame across the seas. I don’t think that has changed much in the last few centuries. It’s not as common for an older couple to pull up stakes and relocate well into their sixties. But that’s what we’re fixin’ to do, pardners. Yup, mebbe join up with a cattle drive out of Pittsburgh once spring gets here. If they’re out of cows, I’ll herd goats or pigs or Shetland ponies, I don’t really care. Cross the mighty Mississippi where it’s shallow, and ride on into the wild west later, ahead of the bad weather. (We’ll take the bridge if I wind up with pigs.)
Of course, I need a few things before I migrate west with my little hunny bunny. Boots, nice embroidered leather cowboy boots with silver spurs. And a horse. I’ve never ridden a real horse, so I’d better get some lessons while I’m at it. Rope for tying stuff down. And most importantly I’ll need a cool cowboy hat that’s broken in. I don’t want no western local to say I’m all hat and no cattle or pigs. I might have to plug him with my other essential, a big old .45 pistol. Oh, and sunscreen, and some sunglasses. Gum, I am not chewing tobacco– no where, no how. I’ll also need a map of all good coffee shops along the way and pet friendly motels. I am not sleeping on the ground.