Guest Columnist

Saying goodbye to a worrisome summmer

Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.
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Finally, the days have dwindled down and September is right there in front of us. It’s been a worrisome summer, a summer wherein mass shootings by crazies with semi-automatic weapons have become commonplace. Congress continues to drag its feet on the issue. Within a couple of days of a mass shooting we’re on to the next horrible thing.

There has been talk of what they call ‘red flag’ laws. I’m not really sure how laws like that would work, but I think it’s when society realizes someone might be a nut-job, so they make sure that that person cannot legally purchase firearms. What I do know is that any person who was at all sentient in high school could tell you exactly who the person was in their class who would one day be a potential killer. Every class has one. Ask your friends: I bet that a name will come from their lips without hesitation.

Out here lavender-colored bee balm plants have stopped flowering down in the hollow but have been replaced by spectacular, bright purple thistle plants, and the tiger swallowtails have noticed, landing gently, silently on the flowers. Thistle is an altogether interesting plant, both nasty and beautiful at the same time. That sort of dichotomy could refer to many other things but I’ll refrain from any metaphorical crap here.

Late on sunny afternoons cicadas buzz constantly. If you listen closely you can hear a rise and fall in the sounds, a kind of rhythm, announcing the end-of-summer heat, hanging on, hoping to forestall a winter that, if we are to believe the Farmer’s Almanac, promises to be deadly.

‘He who must not be named’ has been in France, meeting with six other world leaders and, as usual, he knocked all of the pieces from the game table upon which the others were playing. I want a president who is curious about foreign countries and their people. I want a president who visits the sites, joins citizens in the pubs, chats with buskers on the street, and asks a great many questions, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

So now we begin the process of saying goodbye to summer, hoping for better times ahead. Democratic presidential candidates continue to crisscross the state pretending to be one of us, but most of us don’t really care. School buses are traveling the graveled roads and soon the most important event will be Friday night high school football, where the cute flute player with the spearmint breath will realize the linebacker she thought she loved is an idiot, where mom and dad are supportive of their son who never gets in a game. It’s the life I lived, a beautiful thing.

For reasons unknown to me farmers dislike thistle plants. When they pop up in their fields they spray them with some deadly chemical or other, killing them. I really like thistle plants. They are fragrant, untouchable, and plenty able to take care of themselves. And, like cockroaches, coyotes, and Keith Richards, they will be here long after farmers and the rest of us are gone.

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Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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