Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

June 08, 2007


June 07, 2007


Finally, we got a good downpour today. And it really came down. The big greenhouse flooded, which is harmless, and business slowed to a crawl.

For the first time since snowmelt, the swamp showed a measurable rise in water level. I keep watching the water level on various sticks around the pond, and I am guessing that today the level is up two to three inches.

In the wet wind, the birds are hiding out, with the exception of the red-winged blackbirds and the swans, who are carrying on pretty much as normal.

TO THE HILTON: It has been a while since I have visited Aunt Olla, so I went in this morning to the Hilton to see what was going on. They were just finishing exercise class, and Aunt Olla had been awarded a bag of M & Ms for smiling during exercises! I told her if they ever try that to me, I'll throw the M & Ms across the room, and she said, "Wait until you're ninety-six, you won't care." If she could get some M & Ms out of the deal for being treated like a kid, she wasn't going to argue.

Olla's been buying vitamins again, so her bank account is in a pretty sorry state. Time to pull a couple of twenties out of the secret stash. You wouldn't want to run out of seaweed capsules.

LAST SUPPER FOR JONAH: Sounds like an odd mix of Old and New Testaments, but in fact, it was a goodbye dinner put on by my mother for Jonah, the pleasant young man who has spent the last six weeks here working. The last six weeks are such a blur that I barely got to know him at all, but I enjoyed hearing him playing Bach over lunch breaks on a daily basis on the old piano in the schoolhouse at the nursery. I hope Jonah can return some other time, or for another season, for he was a ray of sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine, we could use a little now. The gardens are being planted in fits and starts, but the rain has begun to interfere with work.

June 06, 2007

View from my window

First Hatch

Just now as I was overlooking the swamp from the crow's nest, a mama woodduck and no fewer than 10 ducklings came out of the reeds to play around in the shallows.

Woodduck ducklings don't line up in rows. They are independent and pretty much play leapfrog, running and paddling in little bursts. Papa woodduck is nowhere to be seen.

The swans are sitting on their nest, but are much more active than usual on the pond. I do hope that they show up with little ones soon. Since I dredged some open water near the house, they come there once per day for a tour, and occasionally they take off from there. Their initial wingbeats can be heard in the house and actually woke me up from a nap today.

June 04, 2007

The interrogators

Here is a good article about what torture does to those who do the torturing.

June 03, 2007

Tales of Woe

A customer just complimented me on my columns, so I asked him, "what should I write about tonight?"

He paused, and said, "Just be positive."

Ha! If he only knew how hard that's going to be today, what with Johan Santana walking more batters than he strikes out against Oakland. I was going to sneak home to watch the game, but now I am glad I did not.

And at the nursery today, it was a day for tales of woe and Zip-loc bags full of diseased leaves and dead branches and trees that died and plants with aphids and requests for trees we are out of. If there was a way to just shut the nursery down June 1, I think profits would increase and stress would lower, but you can't do that.

On a far more serious note, I just saw that 14 troops died in Iraq this weekend. For some reason, seeing that headline just made me ill.

I have no doubt that on a daily basis the troops are doing some great things. However, these troops have been failed by their leaders. Rumsfeld decided to fight the war on the cheap and with a fraction the men the generals said would be needed. Now we are in a bind. To pacify Iraq would, in the most generous estimates, take at least 500,000 troops. We can't raise that many without a draft. Present politics wouldn't allow for that, and rightfully so.

Dozens of bodies are found in Iraq each day. Even in the area of the so-called "surge," violence is back at pre-surge levels. This whole enterprise is going nowhere. It needs to end. It won't be pretty, but how can our leaders face the families of those who have been killed when there is no end in sight, no apparent improvement in the overall picture, and no apparent strategy for ending the conflict?

Now comes news that our people who used "enhanced interrogation techniques" studied the torture manuals used in the old Soviet Union by the KGB.

Is there any greater evidence that we have sold our soul?

Then, Dick Cheney speaks at the commencement at West Point. He was talking about the terrorist enemies we face, and of course we know that they are brutal and without scruples. That goes without saying. So were the Nazis, and there were a lot more of them. But then Cheney said, "the first thing they do is claim the protection of the Geneva Conventions and the U. S. Constitution." But when it comes to their methods, Cheney continued, their interest in "such delicacies" fades away.

Clearly, Cheney was implying that concern for the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution are "delicacies" reserved for the effeminate. Never mind that he swore in his oath of office to protect the Constitution, and that his central role in ignoring the Geneva Conventions might gain him war criminal status, and never mind that professors at West Point, those who teach the Geneva Convention, are finding it very difficult to teach their topic without open contempt from the students--no, Dick Cheney is still pushing for more unchecked executive power. "Trust us," he still says.

The man is a menace.