Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

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September 2008

    In a few weeks summer will officially be over and once again it’s time for all of us to start wearing warmer duds and for me to dust off that windshield that hangs in my garage.
    I once saw a movie called “The Endless Summer” about these surfers who followed the sun, traveling the world for various surfing competitions. It’s too bad that it would be impractical to do that regarding motorcycling because you’d have to ship your bike ‘round the world via boat or plane, and I’m sure the cost would be prohibitive. But I met a guy named Walt years ago who lived in, and owned a bike shop in, Australia. He came here and traveled the swap meet circuit, vending in the USA during our summer because THEIR seasons are the exact opposite of ours. During THEIR winter (our summer) he lets his assistants run the shop because it’s the slowest riding time on their calendar, although I doubt that the weather is still very bad during Australia’s winter (unlike the piled up snow and slush we’ll soon be getting). Like everyone else, I tend to bitch about the snow and about the down time, but like I’ve said in past columns, except for not riding, I really do prefer the changing seasons in Ohio over some other place’s monotonous, day in day out weather. Especially during the autumn!
    During autumn here in Ohio, the days are often still warm enough to take advantage of the colorful landscapes due to our various types of trees. Maple, ash, elm, oak, birch, walnut, hickory, etc. each display different colors of leaves as they turn. I’ve never ridden through New England, but I hear the changing leaves there are spectacular too for that very same reason. The native trees, combined with the many different trees that the settler/immigrants brought from Europe for fruit farming and specialized lumber production, create incredible vistas as you ride cross-country on a crisp, sunny afternoon. Many parts of the United States simply do not have this broad sampling of different kinds of trees. I’ve ridden through most of the states West of here and can tell ya that at times I’ve almost fallen asleep holding my handlebars as I’ve passed mile after boring mile. The terrain there might be full of mountains, gorges and other features that some parts of Ohio don’t have, but sometimes the foliage gets rather tedious. Here, the colors just seem to leap out at ya!
    Ohio is sometimes referred to as a flat and geographically monotonous state. But try pushing your scoot for any length and you’ll soon agree that flat is in the eye of the one who’s doing the pushing! Actually if ya look around next time yer out you might notice that Ohio is full of hills and valleys, some gradual, some not. And everywhere ya look you’ll find creeks and rivers. In fact Ohio has so many waterways that in the 1930’s during the depression, the government enlisted the aid of unemployed citizens (the W.P.A.) to dam some of these creeks and rivers to create the countless reservoirs that supply our various cities with municipal drinking water. And these lakes (some man made and some not) are so numerous you can spend your whole summer just riding from lake to lake, state park to state park. That’s just not possible in most states.
    Every now and then I feel I have to speak out and justify my Ohio patriotism. I’ve lived in California and I gotta tell ya, most of those people our there are just plain nuts! They seem to be so much in a hurry to impress each other that they don’t seem to find the time to be real, either in the way they treat each other or the way they treat themselves. The same is true of a lot of places, whether it’s New York or just about anywhere else but here. Of course REAL people can be found all across the country, but here we don’t have to TRY to be real. We just are.
    This state is just so damned beautiful and rich in history that it amazes me that some others fail to appreciate it. I’ve even heard other Ohioans complain about the weather, the factories, the LACK of factories, the terrain, the people, the supposed lack of culture and on and on. It’s gotten so bad that whenever we hear something being mentioned about Ohio on the national news we notice it. Like, “Listen! They’re talkin’ about something that happened in Dayton (or Cleveland or Toledo or wherever]”. As if it’s hard to believe that the rest of the country would even want to take notice of us. I even often hear jokes made in movies about how “hick” Ohio is. Like, “Who the Hell wants to live in Cleveland? Yuck yuck!” Or, “Where the heck is Cincinnati?”
    What gets me is that the very same people who bash our state actually believe that places like New York City and Los Angeles are the only places to live, apparently ignoring the fact that most of these major metropolitan behemoths are rapidly falling into rot and decay.
    Granted, Ohio has had it’s financial problems, but they’re caused only by greedy “global” oriented corporations moving their workplaces outside the country to take advantage of lower wages. Simply put, it’s not our fault that the stupid pukes in big business forget that the Mexicans, Chinese or Koreans aren’t going to buy their products, and eventually the American workers won’t be able to afford to. Importing Japanese steel to make poorly designed and engineered American autos that can’t possibly compete with imported cars simply doesn’t make any kind of business sense (I’m a retired auto worker and obviously I have a bit of an attitude about this!). But we survive, trying to keep our homes and our dignity, in spite of a history of bad corporate executive decisions.
    Ohio farmers have found their farms all but taken over by corporations who buy their crops and often dictate what crops they grow, after the farmer has had to borrow huge sums from financial institutions for the land and equipment. Check out what a tractor and all the rest of a farm’s equipment costs these days and you’ll be amazed. Most small farms are all but “hobbies” for the farmer who usually holds down another job just to survive. But they struggle on making Ohio one of the most productive agricultural states in the union.
    Many of those who work in New York (for instance) choose to live far removed from the urban blight and commute. In other words, a lot of people who SAY they’re from New York City (for instance), are really not….they’re from suburban bedroom communities and are forced to spend most of their time on trains or tied up in traffic just to get to work or to visit “the city”. Still they consider themselves from that city, and themselves superior in some way. For instance, as an example of how full of themselves New Yorkers are, a recent Reader’s Digest article even went so far as to explain why New Yorkers are so much more intelligent than the rest of the country [they attributed THAT to the fact that a huge percentage of the citizens who actually live there are immigrants and that they’re the best of what their former countries has to offer, proven by the fact that they’ve chosen to come to New York….Sheesh!]
    Here, even our state flag is distinctive and unlike any other state’s. Whereas EVERY other state has chosen a rectangular flag, WE’VE chosen a burgee (that peculiar triangle with a wedge removed from the side that flaps in the wind).
    Here, our corn fields and wheat fields help to feed the country and our countryside is dotted with farms and forests and meadows.
    Here, we celebrate our individuality and accept each other’s uniqueness.
    Here is home. The heartland.
    I just wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And because of that I guess I’ll just have to put up with a few months of slush and snow. It makes Spring time more welcome and Summer so appreciated.


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