I’m guessing that all your in-boxes and cell phones are shouting at you the way mine are at me. The sense of panic and urgency is almost unbearable. The text that came in a little while ago — The GOP will pass a national abortion ban if they win the Senate on Tuesday — pushed me to make some last-minute contributions. I know that whatever I give won’t change the course of events but I’ve got to do something.
In the seven weeks since I got to what I’ve learned to call the Capital Region, I’ve been gifted with the exquisite process that is fall in Upstate New York. The trees went from green to vibrant red and yellow, then segued into gold, which then deepened into tones of rust and ochre. Little by little, despite the unnaturally warm weather we’ve been having in the Northeast — it was 76 degrees here on Saturday — almost all the leaves drifted to the ground. The trees are almost all bare now, and still beautiful.
But last weekend, when I drove south for a couple of hours to go apple picking with a friend and her family who drove up from Brooklyn, enough leaves still remained to make the hillsides glow with a deep rich warmth. There are overpasses that cross the thruway here and there, country roads for the most post. Two or three or four of them (I wasn’t counting at first, just noticing) had American flags draped over them, one facing each direction.
Off the thruway, driving through small communities to reach my destination, flags sprout in front of Colonial houses. I drive down charming Main Streets where flags flap in front of some businesses.
Then, away in the distance, I see a flagpole beside the road. On it, getting bigger and bigger as I approach, is what seems to me to be the largest American flag I’ve ever seen. It’s waving, as I discover, beside an RV sales lot. Then there’s another one, this one by a car dealer.
I don’t want to feel like I’m passing through enemy territory when I see the flag of this country that is my home. I don’t want to feel that the flags are there as a declaration and a warning. I want us to remember the principles that this country has fought for and struggled to live up to for generations. I want tomorrow’s election to demonstrate that enough of us remember.
And so I hope with all my being that I don’t look back on today, with its final influx of desperate fundraising messages, with nostalgia for a day when I still had hope for our collective future as a country.