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Monstrously precocious year 2001 finally over

The calendar year 2001 is old hat, therefore old news. Thank goodness. The juggernaut of time, now passed over the Gregorian calendar’s watershed to the palindromic 2002, seems to trample all notions of what a year should be or could have been. How monstrously precocious can a year be? 2001 showed us just how.

The calendar year 2001 is old hat, therefore old news. Thank goodness. The juggernaut of time, now passed over the Gregorian calendar’s watershed to the palindromic 2002, seems to trample all notions of what a year should be or could have been. How monstrously precocious can a year be? 2001 showed us just how.

Can a 12-month span be open to exorcism just as was the young girl in “The Exorcist”? How can a mere creature, not yet even a yearling, get up and rage and storm so quickly? Then, soon after birth – and finally – yell so obscenely, making us feel that it was just like the terribly frightening, self-duplicating monsters from one of an “Aliens” series of movies. A single year, we think, just shouldn’t do the sort of stuff that ’01 did, while yet just a scant few days old. 2001’s double-ended, older sibling 2002 seems to give hints of more storminess to come, but we’ll probably take that as well as the last. That is to say, not painlessly but ably.



After the airplane attacks, many of us looked around for our leaders. We (understandably) wrapped ourselves in jingoes, bangles, banners and beads – all in an attempt to keep more pain and damage from falling out of the sky onto friends, loved ones and ourselves. We commanded, more than asked: “God bless America!” (How many of you recall seeing any question marks after that phrase?)

But we already knew deep inside that we had been blessed, and so how could it be more so? In an attempt to bring out more spirit, we put our waving banners on our cars and trucks and let them tatter. To protect our roadway aisles, we draped Old Glory from a chain-link support – and then forgot to bring it in when it got dark or rainy. Such was, and continues to be, our pain. We looked for leadership, when in fact it was we ourselves who were the leaders. We can and do act and speak.




It was heaven-sent then when we were able to see a collection of works – of poetry, in this case -that can affirm life. The Union has in the past published haiku poetry sent in and composed by local readers. The poetry was published Jan. 1, 2002. It was about not only a stormy time of the past year, but also of a time when the daylight is at a low point.

Those haikus, a form of combined five on the top, seven in the middle, and five more final syllables, did more to brighten the gloom than anything which could have been printed – excepting an impossible retraction of a lot of the previous year. They were printed under the heading of Opinion where usually are found Letters to the Editor. Of course these really were letters to the editor as well to the community at large. They were letters and words of the best sort, because they neither were contest winners nor were they selected as high art. As the expression of a community’s heart, however, this page ranks among the offerings often seen under such titles as “The Best of 2001.” They were printed as a large seasons-greetings card. Ordinarily, we see a large part of that page devoted to some snide and occasionally vicious remarks – however well-founded.

Of the 80 pieces, I especially liked the expressions authored by the younger writers. Hoping they will forgive me for quoting their words out of context, I want to mention a few lines that caught my attention for assorted and personal reasons. There was talk of terrorists and of lost hearts but also of natural beauty and that even if we are terrorized. “Terrorists won’t win.” (Chris Rector, fifth grade). Mikeal Ollar, also fifth grade, says “Our hearts are gone too” along with the twin towers, but I hope for Mikeal’s and others’ sakes that their hearts will come back soon. After all, back then, the “ground looked like a cloud.” (Justin Noxon, fifth grade), but up ahead is “sunny summer warm, a horse runs gallops canters, a perfect evening.” (Stephanie Belknap, eighth grade) The grown-ups were represented, too, but I wanted to focus on an age group which is least heard from on these pages and, in this case, whose voices seemed somehow all the more poignant. These poems and others, in their entirety, will still be available at The Union’s Web site through Jan 11.

We are, finally, the closest at hand and therefore the best able to bless the country.

Larry Shumaker, a resident of Alta Sierra, writes a monthly column.


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