I loved autumn as a child. The turning of the leaves coincided with the joy I felt being back at school, learning new things, reading new books, and getting to know new teachers and classmates. For me, it was the start of things rather than the beginning of the end. The crisp air and cold puddles hinted at what was to come.
The leaves are at their peak, and they are as lovely as ever. The changing of the seasons helps me remember that all things change even when they feel static as lead weights. Knowing change is part of the life cycle keeps me hopeful.
A year ago I began what I imagined was the painful process of growing the dye out of my hair and letting it turn to its natural color. I had dyed my hair since the age of 38 and now I am 57, so I had no idea just how much or how little gray would come in. I imagined walking around with a skunk stripe and being judged harshly by anyone caring to notice. I wore hats most of the winter, and that helped the transition go smoothly. I strategically lopped off hair, not too short, as it caused Ronald anxiety, but enough to speed the process. A year later, my transformation is complete.
I love my steel gray hair mixed liberally with dark brown strands. It is beautiful. Instead of being judged as old or ugly, I’ve been stopped countless times and told how lovely my hair is. One young woman asked if I’d had it dyed that way, and I gave her my shy smile and said, “Just the opposite. I’ve let it go natural.”
“It’s so beautiful,” she said.
Ronald, supportive but slightly anxious about my penchant for impulsivity, declared my natural hair as beautiful as he remembered it and stated, as if we had not discussed it in depth many times, that he knew it all along.
Nature knows how to put colors together just like those autumn leaves, so why do we try to second-guess it?
We early voted this week. The poll was not too crowded. We waited less than ten minutes. I was surprised to see a constitutional amendment up for vote. The last one we voted on in 2012, the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, was effectively called unconstitutional by the SCOTUS. Of course, Thom Tillis, Speaker of the State Legislature, who is running against Senator Kay Hagan, is hiring outside counsel at taxpayers’ expense to defend the amendment. I call it beating a dead horse. I’m hoping his campaign ends up dying, too, in spite of the Koch brothers’ money funding it.
The new amendment is stated as follows: “Constitutional amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in superior court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.”
Read more here: Charlotte Observer
North Carolina is apparently the only state that requires a trial by jury for defendants facing felony charges. But, hey, it’s North Carolina, and after reading the amendment, I chose to vote no. Walking back to the car after voting, Ronald and I talked about it. We both came to the conclusion that coercion might be a tactic for saving money on jury trials and to ensure the outcome wanted whether it is justice or injustice. The Charlotte Observer, in the article linked above, noted that attorneys might sway judges through campaign contributions and other methods. The history here is too awful to be ignored.
Because it’s campaign season again, I am angry and tired by the hate ads in the media. Our phone rings constantly, I open my email to see hundreds of pleas for money, and the mailbox is stuffed with flyers. I understand the urgency, and I get information from both parties because I have written to my representatives and, even if I am in disagreement, I end up on their mailing lists.
I am offended by the GOP’s courting of women and minorities even though they do not and will not have our interests in mind. Do they really think we are that stupid?
Halloween hasn’t helped with Internet photos of white people in blackface, decorations that depict lynching, and the articles written about them. Privilege of the few is exhausting for everyone else on the other side. It’s also dangerous and sometimes fatal.
Then I can’t face it anymore. I don’t want to talk or write about it. I am too angry and too offended by the news and reports. I wish it would just go away. But there it is, every single day, with millions of people pretending it doesn’t exist.
I guess that’s why I still get excited when I vote. I think about the people who waged battles and the ones who lost their lives to ensure women and blacks could vote, and I want to both honor those who sacrificed and also feel like my vote can make a difference. I’m not sure it makes a difference, but if we don’t try, what is left to do?
Today as I finish this post a cold rain pelts the colorful leaves and they drop to the ground, one or many at a time. The trees are turning barren and gray. I can feel the chill in my bones, and I’m voting for the sun to appear, but I know my vote will not count in this case.
But nature makes the colors work and gives me hope for the change I know will come.