Thanksgiving 1999


Dave and I got the lights up on the gazebo in the little park across the street.. Just in time for the "Parade of Lights Grand Illumination " that annual obligatory signal for the shopping spree in our little town of Ashland. We continue to fight for the upscale market against Wal-Mart and Costco.

But we have the products made with care in villages in Columbia and by patient hands in little Venezuelan hamlets. Some of the trendy cut glass is made here in town, and there is a wonderful local weaving guild as well, but if you turn most of the products upside down you will find that they are made in the Philippines or "Hecho en Mexico". It is a bit of an embarrassment when you think about it, not that many of our locals do of course.

Many of our locals don't think at all, but most react with the same feral predictability as chickens. Many of the ubiquitous airheads are gone this weekend to protest the Meeting in Washington (state) of the World Trade Organization..not they that know what the World Trade Organization is mind you, but it doesn't take any thought to be against it. Here in Ashland we want above all to be politically correct, and the aging flower children have an identity problem. It is currently too confusing to be against military intervention when genocide and starvation are the alternatives, so it seems that the World Trade Organization will bear the brunt of the shrill bickering for the next few months. The City Council was packed with the self-righteous just last week to ask the Council to issue a statement protesting the meeting in Seattle, and sadly, the rather cowardly Council folded up and voted to do so. No one was present to suggest that the Council do some homework and find out what the World Trade Organization does, or how it operates.

That is all beside the point except that as Dave and I placed the lights on the aforementioned gazebo. A man rode his bike into the park, a very earth-friendly guy with a basket on the front and back of his vehicle. Our friend had on a charming fisherman's hat imported from Crete, and had tied his dog to the bicycle with an alpaca wool leash, purchased from the third world by one of our local import stores. No one in the town has suggested the parallels between the sweatshop scandals of Nike Inc. and conditions of Bolivians children weaving Alpaca dog leashes to sell at One-World Imports. These trendy shops (or shoppes) have replaced the small grocery stores and hardware/feed stores that took up most of the town in the 1950's.

Dave's chickens run loose during the day, on a very large lot, around a large two-story home where he lives with his ninety five-year-old mother. The chickens work to eat the snails and to get all of the bugs policed up, and they spend every moment of their waking hours in the pursuit of small objects found under leaves. This factor relegates them to the position of five individual rototillers, whose attention is focused on the ground right in front of them. The dog in question whose name was "Marrakech" was attentive and strained at the genuine alpaca leash in the direction of the chickens who, in single-minded purposefulness continued blithely eating the slugs and pill-bugs from beneath the sycamore leaves.

Dave suggested firmly to the visitor that the dog was very near to breaking the leash, and that the chickens would be in some danger from the alert and drooling Marrakech. The bike-riding local stroked his wispy goatee and defended his charge, insisting that Dave's trepidation was totally unfounded, and that, in fact, the dog was not at all interested in eating or harming the chickens because as he explained,

"This dog has been raised as a Vegan dog."

The man's feelings were hurt, you could tell, and as he left on his bike he had to pedal extra hard as Marakesch strained like Sisyphus against the attractive wool leash in the opposite (chicken orientated) direction. The eyes of the dog were locked on the five chickens as the bicycle listed against taunt leash. The dog, whose lips had never enjoyed the flesh of any animal, was being dragged backwards along Iowa St., his dreadful canine teeth having evolved over the eons, now rendered useless on behalf of world peace.

Jere Hudson