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Other days I am old and tired and hurt and I know the future will win.  Other days mediocrity overwhelms me.  I howl with ineffectiveness.  I am not worthy and deserve to fail. Even one dead fish proves my inadequacies.  The odd large rat lies stiff at the bottom of a holding pool, probably poisoned and suffering internal bleeding from the blood-thinning effects of warfarin causing the rat to believe it must drink; but drink slakes no thirst caused by hemorrhage. The rat is netted and dropped down the tube of ancestors. The small fish are removed and a tablet of chlorine added to the holding pool and stirred.  A day or two of chlorination will purify the pool, but even trace chlorine is so damaging to gills that the water is discarded into the mangrove ponds and returned to a growth cycle.  Bright green leaves on blood red stems of poison ivy have crept out from hiding among the areca palms and must be pulled using plastic gloves carefully and slowly to remove as much root as possible.  The ivy cannot be mulched or burned as it may kill if ingested or breathed.  The ivy hides deep among the thick arecas and can never be fully eliminated.  It will outlive me.  It has hurt Carmen once, an unrelenting itch and boiling rash on the tender inside of her wrist which lasted for months and responded only minimally to all medicaments other than a home remedy told us by an experienced Mexican nursery worker.  In Spanish he directed us to heat water until almost boiling, add salt and lemon juice and soak a paper napkin in the hot solution.  Lay the wetted paper, he said, on the affected area.  The salt seems to relieve the itch while the lemon juice and oil perhaps help to draw out the poison.  Ivy is a terrible weed.  At night I envision the whole farm being taken over so that none can walk with impunity. Night terrors are not chimeras. Fighting the weed advances the farm not at all.  The struggle merely prevents system collapse. On these other days nothing I do advances the cause.  It is maintenance, an activity of utter energy expenditure but to maintain a status quo from which I so want to advance but cannot because I must perform maintenance to keep the status quo. Nature is tireless but I am not. These other days and strife seep into the psyche.

Last night I dreamed I stood in the open field of the farm at sunset.  Six or seven cheetahs circled me, closing in, their wide, intelligent eyes merciless. At hand I had a large sheet of plastic—the kind we cover the hoop house with– and a dull machete. Dusk darkened the long slender spotted cats wheeling about.  Throaty snarls rose. I turned and turned with the plastic sheet and old blade, no more than a circus attraction about to be overwhelmed. The beasts closed.

I awoke shaken, a small farmer against the irrepressible megacosm, weather, loan payments, weeds, water quality, pests and crop prices pressing in every tick of a twenty four hour day of every day of an endless growing season. Other days will come. Yet as I write this 2/3 of the youth in Greece are unemployed and 22% of children in the United States live in poverty and go to bed hungry. Those are what the civilized world refers to as industrialized countries with all the implied benefits therein. In the USA more high school graduates than adults are illiterate (19% to 14%) and a staggering 63% of prison inmates cannot read functionally. 26% of the world’s population is illiterate and of that 2/3 are women. More than 900 million people around the globe are malnourished. Information brings perspective that mutes my complaints. We must process our suffering personally.  Many avoid processing the suffering of others to reduce angst. I sympathize with this but it is not an option for me. I am curious. I thirst to know then I find myself suppressing the data. How to filter.  How to process. How to react. How to sleep, ay, there’s the rub. If I take my waking slow because, Theodore, I wake to sleep, then I am turning and turning as things fall apart and the center surely, surely, William, cannot hold. What second coming awaits? What greatness is in us, have we demonstrated, to be rewarded a rebirth, another day? Oh, but other days will come, subtle as a cloud of locusts. And I hope to go down fist raised in protest even against myself and whisper from a dry throat that I tried.

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