Bird’s Eye View

by Turkey Vulture, November 11, 2010

Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. I attended what I assume was the final tri-tip bbq fundraiser of the year as a crowd of perhaps 50 or so gathered at the new Golden Eye Winery facility just north of Philo on Sunday afternoon to raise money for our volunteer firefighters. It must be said that the Lions Club cooks, Olie Erickson, Rob Gulliani, and Judy Long, along with their very able assistants, and a ‘new’ less salty rub, produced the best grill of the year and they even promised to mix it up a little in 2011 when ribs and perhaps chicken will be added to their repertoire at Lions Club events. The tri-tip was perfect, as were the grilled veggies, ‘meaty’ Portobella mushrooms, and zesty salad. Enjoyed with a delicious Golden Eye Pinot Noir it was an orgasmic culinary experience which is not bad on a Sunday afternoon with rain clouds on the horizon. Some of those in attendance had come from the Veterans Day of Remembrance event held at the Evergreen Cemetery earlier, via Lauren’s Restaurant where Lauren had opened to specifically provide, on the house, some refreshments in the hour or so between the two functions. This earlier ceremony had a similar sized crowd and many expressed their gratitude that such an occasion had been organized. With the flag raised by nonagenarian Ross Murray, a six-gun salute by members of the American Legion, various poignant readings by Patty Liddy and Joe Petelle, a recital by Ellen Ingram of the names inscribed on the Wall of Remembrance of those local folks who had served their country and who were now passed, hymns that were sung accompanied by Lynn Archambault on her accordion, and ‘Taps’ played by Joe Petelle on his trombone, it was a worthy, moving, and uniquely Anderson Valley tribute to the fallen.

A few Public Service Announcements. #66. The Vets from the Mendocino Animal Hospital are coming to the Farm Supply in the Valley on two occasions this month. They’ll be here tomorrow, Thursday Nov 11th, — Dr. Bennett will be in town. They’ll also be here next Thursday Nov 18th when Dr. Burns returns. #67. School is out for Veterans Day tomorrow and also on Friday, Nov 12th. #68. The Lions Club will NOT meet this month but The Grange committee will meet on Tuesday, 16th at The Grange starting at 7pm. #69. Sue Davies of the AV Lyme Resource Advocates informs me that on Saturday, November 13th, from 2-4pm at the Laughing Dog bookstore in Boonville, Dr. Neil Nathan, local lyme literate doctor, will be doing a meet and greet. He will be signing his new book, “Hope and Healing: For Those Who Have Fallen Through the Medical Cracks.” #70. The Valley’s 2nd oldest Resident, Harold Perry, turned 94 on Monday (Nov 8th) and if that isn’t worthy of a Public Service Announcement I don’t know what is!

Tomorrow (November 11th) is Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Europe and Canada), rightfully regarded as a very important day for observance and commemoration. This occasion marks the anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War One or The Great War’ (the so-called “War to end all Wars” — if only it had been), which took place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It is not a day to celebrate victories but rather one to take a moment for remembrance of those who fought, and in many cases gave their lives, in that war and the many since, so that ours may be better today and in the future.

With this in mind, I am going to forego our ‘Quote of the Week’ and instead present a poem. These very moving words are by World War One poet, Wilfred Owen, probably the finest war poet of all, and the poem is entitled “Disabled” (1917). It expresses the tormented thoughts and recollections of a teenaged soldier in the Great War who has lost his limbs in battle and is now confined, utterly helpless, to a wheelchair. The subject contrasts the living death he is now facing with the youthful pleasures he had enjoyed “before he threw away his knees”; he goes on to recall the impetuous and frivolous circumstances in which he had joined up to fight in the war. He also notes how the crowds that greeted his return were smaller and less enthusiastic than those who cheered his departure, and how women no longer look at him but instead at “the strong men who were whole.” In the opinion of many, it is one of the finest anti-war poems ever written.

* * *

“He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,

And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,

Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park

Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,

Voices of play and pleasure after day,

Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay

When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,

And girl glanced lovelier as the air grew dim---

In the old times, before he threw away his knees.

Now he will never feel again how slim

Girl's waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.

All of them touch him like some queer disease.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,

After the matches, carried shoulder-high.

It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,

He thought he'd better join.---He wonders why.

Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts,

That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,

Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts

He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;

Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,

And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears

Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts

For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;

And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;

Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.

And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.

Only a solemn man who brought him fruits

Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,

And do what things the rules consider wise,

And take whatever pity they may dole.

Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes

Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.

How cold and late it is! Why don't they come

And put him into bed? Why don't they come?”

* * *

PS. Wilfred Owen was killed in action at the age of 25, on Nov 4th, 1918, a week before the war ended. Ironically, the telegram from the War Office announcing his death was delivered to his mother's home as her town's church bells were ringing in celebration of the Armistice when the war ended.

* * *

Be careful out there. May your god go with you. Let us pray. Very humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse either through the Letters Page or by e-mail at turkeyvulture1@earthlink.net.

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