Dave and I got the lights up on the gazebo in the little park across the street.. Just in time for
the "Parade of Lights Grand Illumination " that annual obligatory signal for the shopping spree in
our little town of Ashland. We continue to fight for the upscale market against Wal-Mart and
But we have the products made with care in villages in Columbia and by patient hands in little
Venezuelan hamlets. Some of the trendy cut glass is made here in town, and there is a wonderful
local weaving guild as well, but if you turn most of the products upside down you will find that
they are made in the Philippines or "Hecho en Mexico". It is a bit of an embarrassment when you
think about it, not that many of our locals do of course.
Many of our locals don't think at all, but most react with the same feral predictability as
chickens. Many of the ubiquitous airheads are gone this weekend to protest the Meeting in
Washington (state) of the World Trade Organization..not they that know what the World Trade
Organization is mind you, but it doesn't take any thought to be against it. Here in Ashland we
want above all to be politically correct, and the aging flower children have an identity problem.
It is currently too confusing to be against military intervention when genocide and starvation are
the alternatives, so it seems that the World Trade Organization will bear the brunt of the shrill
bickering for the next few months. The City Council was packed with the self-righteous just last
week to ask the Council to issue a statement protesting the meeting in Seattle, and sadly, the
rather cowardly Council folded up and voted to do so. No one was present to suggest that the
Council do some homework and find out what the World Trade Organization does, or how it operates.
That is all beside the point except that as Dave and I placed the lights on the aforementioned
gazebo. A man rode his bike into the park, a very earth-friendly guy with a basket on the front
and back of his vehicle. Our friend had on a charming fisherman's hat imported from Crete, and had
tied his dog to the bicycle with an alpaca wool leash, purchased from the third world by one of
our local import stores. No one in the town has suggested the parallels between the sweatshop
scandals of Nike Inc. and conditions of Bolivians children weaving Alpaca dog leashes to sell at
One-World Imports. These trendy shops (or shoppes) have replaced the small grocery stores and
hardware/feed stores that took up most of the town in the 1950's.
Dave's chickens run loose during the day, on a very large lot, around a large two-story home where
he lives with his ninety five-year-old mother. The chickens work to eat the snails and to get all
of the bugs policed up, and they spend every moment of their waking hours in the pursuit of small
objects found under leaves. This factor relegates them to the position of five individual
rototillers, whose attention is focused on the ground right in front of them. The dog in question
whose name was "Marrakech" was attentive and strained at the genuine alpaca leash in the direction
of the chickens who, in single-minded purposefulness continued blithely eating the slugs and
pill-bugs from beneath the sycamore leaves.
Dave suggested firmly to the visitor that the dog was very near to breaking the leash, and that
the chickens would be in some danger from the alert and drooling Marrakech. The bike-riding local
stroked his wispy goatee and defended his charge, insisting that Dave's trepidation was totally
unfounded, and that, in fact, the dog was not at all interested in eating or harming the chickens
because as he explained,
"This dog has been raised as a Vegan dog."
The man's feelings were hurt, you could tell, and as he left on his bike he had to pedal extra
hard as Marakesch strained like Sisyphus against the attractive wool leash in the opposite
(chicken orientated) direction. The eyes of the dog were locked on the five chickens as the
bicycle listed against taunt leash. The dog, whose lips had never enjoyed the flesh of any animal,
was being dragged backwards along Iowa St., his dreadful canine teeth having evolved over the
eons, now rendered useless on behalf of world peace.