A Trip To The Country: Happy Birthday, USA .
- Fred Stock  (©July 1997)

         We celebrate the birth of our nation this month, and we look back to the times and folks whose efforts made it point in the direction we are now headed. The country they started continues to be at the top of the list in many categories, and capable of reaching the same heights in more if the right decisions are made in various dome shaped buildings. I for one am glad I live here, and give thanks for all the great advantages and our nearly unlimited conveniences. It is safe and clean and pleasant. But you know, it’s changed a whole lot since then, and so much more since the time ol’ Chris Columbus landed off Cuba somewhere.

       Imagine “our land” back about 1490, in “BC” – Before Columbus . According to Smithsonian records, there were about 5349 fewer dams in the rivers and no bridges. Subtract 2.48 million miles of paved highways, and a couple of hundred thousand more unpaved jeep trails. Now delete about 97-thousand square miles buildings and urban development and replace those with trees. Also slip in some clean air and open space. Erase a couple of million square miles of farm land, and return it to prairie and desert. You will also have to remove all of the following; European grasses, apple trees, railroad tracks,  eucalyptus trees, all horses, brown rats and house mice, all house pets except dogs and domesticated turkeys. Take out all the people whose heritages are Polish, German, African, Hungarian, Italian, French, English, Oriental, Asian, Spanish, Irish, Australian and more. You’ll be left with about two and one half million red skinned people and a few nearer here with brown/yellow tints. That’s not many by present day standards, but most can trace their lineage here back some 500 generations, and those who cannot are limited only by the lack of written records.

       You know, somehow those people who were here coexisted with their neighbors – almost always in peace and harmony. They worked, ate, slept, had families and taught their children the things they needed to continue to survive and thrive. Their customs were strange to many of us, but they were established and recognized. Their history and their lessons were in song and dance and chants. Their medicine was herbal or magical, and generally quite effective. Their world was wild, but orderly, pragmatic.

       There was no one here who knew people called Madonna, Elvis, Jesus, Mohammed, George Washington. There was not one driver’s license, no IRS, no FCC or FTC, no Stock Exchange, Medicare or insurance adjusters. No casinos either. The moon was a spirit, or a vantage point from which spirit-people kept an eye on us. Bill y May wasn’t screaming about OxyClean – heck he hadn’t even installed the tourniquet that keeps his voice up there! There was not a single baseball diamond! No one had ever received an e-mail message. You wouldn’t find a notebook or even a single sheet of paper. And not a single copy of Windows XP either! No airport security screeners. No green cards. Oh! And WE were the illegal aliens!

       I am not recommending return to those days. I like my plastic bottled milk and delivery pizza. I cannot live without my internet business or this keyboard and screen through which you and I are communicating. But isn’t it curious that, when we get “fed up” and “ready” for a get-a-way, we often look for a place and atmosphere that is much like that we changed to get from there to here! A “trip to the country” Mom and Dad used to call it.  Maybe we’ll take one of those as we salute the country this month. Happy Birthday, America ! -fhs