Friday, August 05, 2005

Column 38 - Independence Day

I’ve been too much of a world traveler these past eight weeks or so. I wrote earlier about my experience of being in Bangkok and the contrasts I found between the gentility of the people there and what I encountered when I came home. Now I’ve been in Greece and had almost the opposite experience – particularly in Athens I found many people abrupt, brusque, and decidedly uninterested in anything that did not fit in my wallet. Now I’m home, jet-lagged, and deeply tired of traveling.

This is a good time to be here at the Lake – the summer tourist onslaught has not arrived yet and the weather seems (knock wood) to have turned to summer. At the same time, I came home after being gone for almost all of the past eight weeks, to find things unusually quiet compared to when I left. The Board of Trustees seems to have put the dog park issue to bed for now, Incline Vision is too early in its development to have caused much controversy yet, the tax revolt is basking in some degree of victory, and even TRPA seems unusually quiescent (unless you feel that unlimited weekend access to Emerald Bay by speedboat is important).

One has to wonder if this is the calm before some storm or other. For sure, the tourists will hit this weekend (giving rise to the old question of why they call it tourist season) and we will not see the last of them until late September. Three of our major religious institutions will see new clergy arriving in the next couple of months, and with Incline’s resident population at its annual peak, we can expect to see some rampant opinionating before long.

Still, it’s nice to enjoy it right now – the calm, the quiet, the available tee times, courts, and beach spaces, all of it. Oh, sure, we have road construction to deal with, but that’s a necessary evil in these climes, and we have the occasional earthquake to liven things up, but overall, it’s not bad.

As I travel all over the US and all over the world, the standard question is “where are you from?” When I respond that I live at Lake Tahoe, whether I’m in Bangkok, Burbank, or Belarus, people usually have heard of our part of the world and even if they’re not altogether sure where it is they know it’s beautiful and an enviable place to live. I tell them it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Kidding aside, though, I for one don’t pause often enough to reflect on the extraordinary privilege it is to live in the US and particularly in this unique part of the US.

So no controversy today, no rancor, no needling of the other end of the political spectrum. Call it jet lag, call it the opposite of homesickness (homewellness?) but, temporarily at least, I can’t find anything to fault. Oh, I know it’s out there – the Iraq adventure continues and the Downing Street memo continues to be ignored, John Bolton will probably be sent to the UN, and the Bush gang will continue to disassemble (“well, it depends on what you mean by ‘throes’”), but for a couple of days at least I don’t care. After weeks of pad thai, green curry, rice, grape leaves, moussaka, olives and baklava, I’m going to grill myself a good old New York steak, crack open a beer, and be glad that we live in a country that was founded 229 years ago by people who did their best to ensure that I can write these columns and that those who don’t like what I write can write in and say so. Have a safe, happy, and free Fourth.

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