One of our favorite touristy things to do while in Milwaukee — even when we were living here — was to tour The Domes — the three stainless and glass horticultural displays built here in eight years and finished in 1967. They have already seen major repairs because of the engineeing employed during construction; now they are closed again — possibly forever. They were closed last year because of falling concrete we’re told, and needed necessary repairs. It was rumored that they would be torn down — but a current check of the website seems to indicate that one of the three will be reopened in May of ’16 — but that the future of them all is still very much uncertain.
This raises the spectre of what to do about America in general?
One of the lessons learned during several trips to Europe was that Europe is continuously in a state of repair. When so much of one’s nation is multiple hundreds of years old there’s going to be repairs needed — and it helps if the things you’ve created along the way have been designed to be repairable — rather than thrown away, torn down, or condemned. America seems to have been built in a hurry — in so many ways. I know Germans and French who live in homes that are 300 and 400 years old, and one family in England who live in a home built in the days of the knights of the round table — including the dead, dessicated cat that had been embedded in the walls to protect the building from evil spirits! But here, homes and businesses are often torn down after a few decades of use. We tear down and re build because we can’t afford the cost of building something substantial enough to endure a few centuries, and it seems we are too novelty prone to want something that old, because of how poorly it was built. Seems a rather circular reasoning. .
I’m not sure that is a lesson we U.S. Citizens have comprehended quite yet. We have been growing (until recently) at such a pace that we were hard pressed to keep up with growth in the ways we’ve been doing things — much less if we were building for the centuries. I do find that being out in the light, rolling down the road, tramping over trails we have been impressed by the impact of growth on everything we are and have.
I have long grieved the Milwaukee County Park system… once a model of urban parks but in recent years a declining, decrepit memory of days gone by. We enjoy visiting the National Parks, but in many instances they too have been overly popular for the facilities and our parks are deteriorating faster than we can repair them.
I read, during the winter, an article about the budge shortfall in the National Parks and how many multiples of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance are sitting, waiting years to be gotten around to; it seems congress has enough private projects and enough foreign wars to fund without taking care of things that the population seem to care a lot about.
One thing this lifestyle does is to make you aware of just how small we are as individuals. Bad storms, health catastrophes, things like that put us in juxtaposition to eternal forces and knock the stuffing out of our pride and ego. The more time we spend in lesser developed areas, and observe how little many of our citizens possess the more I’m frustrated and angered by the indulgence and entitlement of those who live in cities — who seem to have no concept of what it takes to survive in this world.
At the same time I can drive past The Domes and see them barricaded and orange taped I can drive across the Menominee River bridge and see the massive re-construction of the Interstate system. It’s not like the local residents aren’t doing their share to try to keep up.
You know, I recently saw a video about climate change that really shook me up.
It bothered me, in part, because most of those I hear being concerned about climate change have been just those sort of people in the video, and not the Millennials, or the Gen-X’ers or any of the other funny names they have spawned to turn a decade’s worth of children into a marketing cliche.
I have no problem accepting two contradictory ideas.
- We have been witnessing decades of warmer temperatures and altered climate — I mean who even talks about about Foggy London-town anymore. The world has changed.
- Our lifespan as members of a species is generally too short to even be aware of climate change — we witness a lot of weather but whether we know enough about the macro systems to say that the global climate is forever altered by human activity seems a bit iffy. Heck, we can’t even agree on whether to eat eggs (cholesterol) or how much alcohol is safe to drink, or whether the Cubs will ever win another World Series.
Even though our frame of reference might be awfully short I would think that we could agree about some things. One might say that in Oklahoma where the incidence of earthquakes has gone from a few in a decade to over 350 in one year that perhaps fracking is something that might need to be controlled. But then there are all those humans who’s jobs depend on fracking, and all those stock holders who’s 401K’s depend on corporate dividends and it seems we can’t raise a united voice to say, “Hey, wait a minute…. this might not be such a good thing and can we agree not to do it any more.”
And you know what?…
Suddenly that video isn’t quite as startling. Suddenly it doesn’t seem quite as ridiculous to say, I don’t care. Mind you, I’ve never been one to say I don’t care about anything. I’ve lived my entire life with passion and zeal. But, there are things I’m not going to fix. There are things I’m not able to fix. There are things another entire generation may not be able to fix. It’s OK to look at those domes, with their orang barricades and tape and say, “You know, I’m glad I was there when they were at their best.” It would be nice of another generation could enjoy them, but they too will some day sit down to their own banquet of consequences. I wonder how they will feel?
I’m glad we’ve been blessed to be able to go RV’ing. We weren’t sure when we set out on this journey just how it would work out. But thus far we’ve seen a lot that we would never have seen otherwise. All told, I’m willing to bet that our lifestyle as created fewer greenhouse gases than had we been living in that big old 6500 Sq Ft monstrosity we called our house. So I have no apologies to make to Momma Earth for being part of her demise. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people — and it seems that when you meet other campers, other RV’ers, most of them are in a pretty good mood because we are all out there having the time of our lives. So we don’t have to put up with cranky neighbors and noisy parties.
Yup…. maybe it’s just ok to say, I don’t care. (at least once in a while, if I can break a life long habit).
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here tomorrow to chat.