Thursday, March 27, 2003

Well, the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade made a combat jump into Iraq. This whole thing has been making me half crazy, and now this. Sitting here, knowing I'm too old and broken to participate, is very difficult.

War provides a strange dichotomy for soldiers. Contrary to popular belief, soldiers are not war mongers. We simply constitute the cadre of the willing. Those who know that a nation must posses an armed force and are willing to serve in that force. But soldiers don't crave war for the simple reason that it is the soldier who suffers in war, not the politicians.

But yet, it remains without a doubt an exciting adventure. By and large if you join the Army to become a paratrooper, you're not one who is content to watch others get their adrenaline rushes. You crave it as well.

And there's the frustration of training for years to do a job and never actually doing it. Soldiers want to apply their skills. This probably seems a bit odd, but therein is another sort of dichotomy. Soldiers don't enjoy the thought of killing, but yet yearn for the rush of achieving victory. You actually intellectually separate the idea of defeating an enemy from the thought of actually killing other humans. And when it comes down to cooly selecting and killing an individual enemy soldier, somehow the mind is able to isolate that which is done as a matter of duty and allow you to do that, even though you would never countenance the idea of killing another person off of the battlefield.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Independent of its official date, spring has arrived.

Though I rue the passing of winter-I genuinely like winter and snow-spring brings with it its own joys. It is a time of awakening and renewal. The first bits of green begin to push up through the earth. The firs display bright green tips on their branches, indicating new growth. The scars left by winter begin to even out and disappear (the potholes are, of course, a different matter).

Spring is the beauty of fresh life emerging from the ground and the promise of summer coming. Soon insects will begin to emerge, scuttling through the forest litter on their frenetic missions, trout will begin snapping at caddis larvae (and hopefully my lures as well) and birds will begin serenading us in the morning. The ground will begin to warm up, emitting its dank odor of dirt and decaying leaves. Buds will burst into flower, attracting insects to transport their pollen from plant to plant, ensuring another generation. The dogwoods and redbuds will splash the still leafless landscape with white and magenta.

Soon enough we segue into summer, with its long days and warm evenings. Days spent drifting on the lake in the canoe, the red dust of the baseball field and the smoke of barbecues. Sweet white corn and fresh local cantaloupes. But that’s for another, later day.