Communion Of Dreams


An early fall.

I first noticed the change on the way to Pittsburgh almost two weeks ago. Here and there, a blush of color amongst the green. A slight touch of yellow, a bit of red creeping in on the edges. Just accents.

On the way back almost a week later, there was more. Oh, it was still summer. But there was just a hint of the fall to come.

* * * * * * *

On my walk with the dog this morning, I ran into some old friends who were visiting family a block over. She’s now an L-2, made Law Review this year. Made the Dean’s List both semesters last year. A former employee, who decided on going to law school after being out of school for some years.

“We should get together.”

“Well, you’re busy with school right now.”

“Yeah, but I’m trying not to lose contact with all my friends. My personal life has to have some priority.”

I smiled. “It’s OK. Your friends understand the whole delayed-gratification thing. Do what’s important now, secure your future – there’ll be time for us to socialize later.”

* * * * * * *

It’s an old argument. I remember having it some 35 years ago – and it had been going on for almost 20 years then: “Wouldn’t it be better to address the problems we have here on Earth like poverty, war, and pollution rather than wasting money on sending people into space?”

Here’s a good response:

I find it depressing that the moment anyone brings up the space program, someone (or several someones) out there trot out the old “we have other problems to solve” canard.As though the Department of Defense doesn’t spend the entire NASA annual budget approximately every three days. As though the economic payoff for the manned AND unmanned space program has not been many times its cost in investment.

As though there isn’t a space telescope out there right now that will tell us in less than 5 years just how frequent Earth-like planets are in the galaxy.

As though the entire 20th Century is insufficient proof that science, engineering, and technology can achieve things that were not only previously considered impossible, but were previously never imagined.

“Oh we’ll never get a toehold outside of Earth because the stars are too far away and the solar system is too inhospitable” sounds an awful lot like “Heavier than air powered flight? you’re loony.”

The failure of imagination I find even at a highly educated and imaginative place like Metafilter depresses and distresses me. Because it means even here, where I’ve found the most rational, creative and intelligent people as you can probably find on the entire internet, the possibilities are just too many or too hard to grasp for some very influential members.
posted by chimaera at 11:43 AM on September 12 [32 favorites]

* * * * * * *

It was a wet and cool spring and summer. Good for the air conditioning bills. Not a good year for growing my favored hot peppers. At most, I’ll have a few dozen – enough to last me through the year as dried flakes/powder, but not enough to replenish the hot sauces I made during that great harvest two years ago.

And until mid-to-late August, it had looked like a poor year for tomatoes. That changed, of course, and this past week I’ve harvested about 200 pounds – enough to make sauce and canned diced tomatoes to last until next summer, as well as share fresh tomatoes with all my friends who don’t garden.

My wife was teasing me about the excess amount of tomatoes, saying that it was my own fault for planting so much. Yeah, true enough. But last year I planted almost as many plants, and the weather was even worse, meaning we didn’t have enough to last us through the year. You just can’t tell, sometimes.

* * * * * * *

“So, a publisher is interested in Communion of Dreams.”

“Wow – that’s great!”

“Yeah, I’ve been working to trim it down. Should be done in another month or so.”

“So they’ll publish it?”

“There’s no contract. But the publisher is very interested, and is waiting to see how the revisions go. We’ll see.”

* * * * * * *

JMS had a good bit about the “why go into space?” question in the first season of Babylon 5:

Sinclair: “Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics – and you’ll get ten different answers. But there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us, it’ll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes – all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars.”

* * * * * * *

And now I see the evidence of fall here, about a month earlier than usual: a number of the trees around town have started to change, there are leaves raining down whenever there’s a gust of wind. The temperature is about normal for mid September, but it somehow feels cooler.

I have more tomatoes to harvest. While I can.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)


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