I like to try new things, especially if they require minimal effort and expense on my part. That is why I found myself attending this afternoon’s re-enactment of the Battle of Pleasant Hill– it was nearby and free. It has been 147 years since the battle took place, and I think that the chicken-on-a-stick I ate for lunch had been around for almost as long. This was the 37th re-enactment of this battle and many people put their time and energy into making this an enjoyable event, beginning with the folks who turned their cow pasture into a parking lot. For the very reasonable price of $5.00 you had a place off the highway to park and access to a “shuttle,” which was a quilt-covered bench on a trailer pulled by a tractor. I cannot imagine what the constant stream of non-local pipeline and gas field workers thought when they had to stop for us to unload.
The parking and shuttle service is a great example of American ingenuity and entrepenurial spirit. So were several of the chairs I saw lining the side of the road. In the evolution of the folding, portable chair, I believe the old aluminum frame folding chairs with plastic strips in the bottom that would get so hot they’d burn your bottom came first. Then they upgraded to the green and white woven mesh strips that would rot and each year another one would break, leaving just enough to (hopefully) last another season. Here is one of my favorite pictures of what happens when you have one slightly imperfect chair of each type that belong to people who are very, very thrifty:
After a few years, somebody smart came up with the collapsible chair that will fit in a bag. It’s got metal legs and a waterproof fabric body so that it’s not too heavy to carry. It’s an awesome thing and we have several. Then, the upgrades: a collapsible chair with a cup holder in the armrest, 2 cupholders, and the grand prize winner that I saw today had an adjustable canopy to keep the sun off your head, neck and shoulders. That chair I must have!
And that chair at a festival for a battle that occured nearly 150 years ago illustrates a major conflict in much of America today: preserve the past vs. push on to the future. Now, I am the sort of person who would buy a car just because the headrest had a hole in it for my ponytail to pass through that would keep my neck from aching on long drives. I think rear zone air conditioning controls and entertainment systems for vehicles are as indispensable as refrigeration and automated laudry devices are for the home. I am not a Luddite, but I have to wonder where does it stop? Not the cereal aisle, for sure.
In our efforts to be bigger, faster, and stronger, sometimes we lose sight of more important things. I am glad that today I was able to take the time to be with my family and others who gathered to commerate an event where 8,000 people lost their lives fighting for their convictions. People today are still fighting and still dying, and not all are far from home. For many the sound of gunfire is the norm, not an anomoly. Days like today make me so appreciative of our right to congregate in peace that we enjoy in America.
Let’s not distract ourselves overmuch with the material things, nor bury our heads in the sands of the past. Each part can be relevant and is important to the whole. America is a great place for many reasons if we can remember to value all of the parts, not just the ones like us, but also the ones we may think are strange or even dislike. Come on, people, we can do this! It’s Easter– Peace Be With You.