I have to agree with the often voiced opinion that the weather patterns are changing, and that we are indeed in an ongoing drought. I only hope it’s not like the one that drove the ancient people from here in the 1400s, which apparently lasted for forty years! It was so different in the early 70’s, when I had first arrived in Arizona, and my ex-husband and I were managing a large farm – I remember spending many a time balancing on top of the loaded wheat trucks, trying to cover them with heavy tarpaulins in the face of gusty winds, fighting off the thunderstorms and slanting rain. Perhaps I am now being punished – when we were trying to get the wheat in before the rains came, I vividly recall praying to the god of weather, asking him to ignore the pleas of ranchers who needed the rains, and to listen to us, who didn’t need them … just yet! It reminds me of an ancient Hebrew prayer which, obviously voiced by a farmer, says: “Lord, heed not the prayers of those about to embark on a journey…” – as they would need sunny weather. I guess we haven’t changed much in all these thousands of years – still looking out for number one! Anyway, little did I know then that I would shortly become one of the ranchers, be praying for the rain, and to blazes with the farmers and their wheat crops! What a cacophony God must be receiving from all of us 6 billion warring, whining people down here! Anyway – that’s my bit of philosophy for the day!Still on the subject of thunderstorms, I am currently reading a fascinating book by Greta Ehrlich, who is one of my favorite authors. A few years ago she wrote a wonderful book called “The Solace of Open Spaces”, where she recounts the years she spent sheep herding in the vastness of the Wyoming mountains. It’s a great book – you can almost feel the wind rushing through the pages. Now I am reading one called “A Match to the Heart”, another autobiographical book, where she recounts her experience of having been struck by lightning. Living with lightning is something most of us take for granted – storms come and go, and, even though we hear of some people being killed, they are generally people doing silly things like playing golf, or walking about with an open umbrella, thus providing an easy target. However, in the author’s case, she was doing none of the above – she was just taking a walk with her dogs. The book deals with the awful time of her recovery, and, reading it, I would think that she must often have wished for the lightning bolt to have killed her rather than to live through such misery. The greatest problems were with her heart, which was so affected that, at times, it simultaneously slowed her pulse to about 30, while at the same time dropping her blood pressure to dangerously low levels so she would pass out, often in excruciating pain. However, here is the interesting thing – she mentions that this was her second lightning strike, that she had been struck by lightning once before, when the bolt traveled from the ground, up the legs of her horse and hit her. (She doesn’t say what happened to the horse, if anything.) So this made me think about another man I had read about, a forest ranger who had been struck by lightning seven time, once even while sitting in his pickup – and then I remember all those times when I remained horseback, walked through groves of trees in thunder storms so awful that literally one bolt after another struck the ground around me. And so my conclusion is that perhaps there are some people who attract lightning more than others – some chemical mix in their body, perhaps? Anyway, I recommend the book – and I guarantee that after you read it, you will stay indoors during lighting storms!
Another two books I read recently were the autobiographies of our two great First Ladies, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush. Both books are well written and very interesting, but the most fascinating thing about them is how hectic life in the White House is. One might think that the President and First Lady live in luxury, being waited on hand and foot – well, not quite! First of all, they have to pay their own expenses – the Nation only picks up the cost of what one might call “business” events, but otherwise, you’re paying for yourself. And forget the waited on hand and foot bit – it’s not being waited on, it’s constant intrusion of other people into your private life, which totally disappears. And for what? To be called nasty things in the press, to have untruths written about you, to have your husband maligned, to have every action you undertake criticized, second guessed, unappreciated. I wonder why anyone would want to do it!
And so, still on the subject of books, Bonnie in the front office has got herself a Kindle. I had, of course, been aware of these incredible pieces of technology for some time, but had never seen one until one of our guests, an avid reader, brought one here and showed me how he can download instant copies of every newspaper and magazine ever written (why? I asked myself) as well as almost any book ever written. I was impressed with his demonstration – and then Bonnie bought one. She says she loves it, carts it about everywhere, and wouldn’t be without it. For me – the only thing I really like about it is that you can vary the size of the letters. My near eyesight is pretty good, but still, there are some books which are printed with such small print that it’s a strain to read them, so, in that case, a Kindle would be handy. But on the other hand, I like “Books”! I like the feel of them, I like the smell of them, I like, in some cases, the fact that they are old, with previous owners’ names written in them – they are history, they are the past, they are, in a certain sense, alive! So I guess I will remain Kindleless and enjoy reading all the books I have, many still unread. When my parents died, I inherited their library of thousands, added it to my own, and, as my mother and I shared a love of history, there are many biographies of kings and queens, and summaries of world events I have not yet opened – but I love the idea of the books sitting there, waiting for me.