Joe Writes . . .
Paddling the Grand, a bit short of Portland, we came upon a lovely oasis and an invitation to pause and rest. While ‘No Trespassing’ signs are common along the river’s bank, a homemade sign here urged us to “PLEASE STOP AND ENJOY.” A bench was provided for just that purpose. A plaque identified the spot as Judy’s Bend, named in honor of Judy Wight – a nurse, judging by her likeness on the plaque – who must have loved the Grand and perhaps this spot in particular. A well-maintained shrine protected the plaque from the elements and there were two statues, I think they represented Jesus and St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. The plaque stated that Judy Wight now “dances in the ripples and sings in the breeze.”
Nice stuff. Welcoming and peaceful. The world would be a better place if there weremore such opportunities for reflection and refreshment.
At the end of the day’s paddle we hopped in my brother’s car and drove back to where we started to retrieve my truck. We did so, and on our way back to load the Billie V (our canoe) we came across a pick-up truck parked in front of a clean-looking ranch home. The truck’s entire rear window – a big window – was filled with a decal in the shape of the continental United States. In big vinyl letters the window sticker proclaimed, “F_ _ _ OFF, WE’RE FULL,” an obvious reference to our southern border.
The problem is not that the truck’s owner and I disagree on immigration issues. No, the decal is abhorrent on several more basic fronts. Consider that young children are being casually-exposed to vile language every time the truck is used to pick up a quart of milk from the grocery store. “Daddy, what does ‘f_ _ _ off’ mean?” My parents taught me better than that. The decal’s message is also untrue. Labor shortages are very real for some industries because fewer immigrant workers are coming here to work. Finally, I wonder if the truck’s owner is Native American. If not, then his ancestors were immigrants themselves at some point. Should they have been told to f _ _ _ off, too?
So, a tale of two welcomes, indeed. One uplifting, the other base and depressing. I offer a sincere “thank you” to the conveyor of the former, and a hearty “shame on you” to the latter.
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Joe@lengthofthegrand.com (Joe Neely)
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