Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Grand Canyon National Park, Shutdown Day 9

Grand Canyon Shutdown Day 9 - no one at Mather Point
Inside Grand Canyon National Park the wind is blowing. It whips through trees, rattles leaves, blows grit across the paths. Empty paths. Empty silent paths, except for the moan of the wind and the caw of an occasional raven. The chatter of a squirrel.

No one at the bus stops
I sit on a rock at Mather Point when the squirrel approaches. He's wary at first, then bold. Very bold, climbing up my leg and checking out my pockets. But there is nothing in my pockets. "I'm sorry," I say. He sits back on my leg and stares at me, head tilted to the side. He looks puzzled. Not just about my empty pockets—why have pockets if not to stuff them with trail mix? This squirrel wants to know where all the pocketed-people are."Tell me," his little brown eyes ask. "Where did they go?"

Mather Point is usually bustling with people. They come from all over the world. Busloads of them. Each wanting their photo taken beside the great grand abyss.

I try explaining. "Congress," I say to the squirrel. A showdown that led to a shutdown. Fools. Damn fools. Positioning and posturing. Yesterday, I tell him, I watched one of those Jimmy Kimmel routines (see below.) He's a comedian. He asked people which they favor: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, dubbed Obamacare by the right, came out way ahead. "Obamacare? That's just socialism," one person said. 

No one parked at Grand Canyon Village
Yeah, well so is the farm bill. I told this squirrel. And corporate tax loop holes. And mortgage deductions. And the public library, not to mention each and every fire department. Big fricking deal. We live in a society, and whether the bible-thumping teapot-toting air heads like it or not, we are our brothers keepers. And so yes, Obamacare was passed into law, and yes it is helping insure people who were uninsured, and yes that helps the country. Yes. Yes and yes.

But no. I told he squirrel. Don't expect to see the crowds back for a while. Egos rule. In the mean time, the country holds its breath.

The squirrel seems to get my drift. No trail mix. Not now, probably not for quite a while. He gives me a wistful look, then takes off, down my leg and across the rocks to sit on the rim of the canyon, and just stare out at the empty space that lies between the rock walls.

Empty space. That's what the Tea Party offers this country. Nothing but empty space, empty words, empty promises. Empty paths leading through empty, windswept parks.

No one on the path in front of Bright Angel Lodge.

-Naseem Rakha 10-9-2013
At the Grand Canyon during closure, visiting with friends and gathering stories

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