The heartland.

Dear Readers,

With apologies for being away from the blog, it was a hectic week. Busy at work (which is good) before flying out before dawn on Thursday to the heartland for a visit with the family. It was all snow all the time here until a week ago. Then on Thursday, when we landed, it was 86 degrees. Right. Perfect weather since then, though cooler, thankfully. Perfect for spring yard cleaning, which people with yards do I’ve learned (before this year it always just seemed magically to be done by the time I visited). Very satisfying. I’ve seen real green shoots. Red ones, too. And daffodils blooming everywhere. Quite restorative even during typical 6:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. days.

It is always interesting to check in on the heartland mood. The county votes Republican, and when we questioned an item on our grocery story receipt people in the next three check-out lines turned to listen. I still don’t know what to make of that. We were using calm voices and being polite, but we definitely had questions and that definitely seemed a news item.

Our heartland turned up in the best behaved list this week when it was revealed more of the citizens completed their census forms than any other state. Nice. My mother said it was because there is nothing else to do, which isn’t at all true. I think it demonstrates (even Republican) people can act in ways that serve their interests as well as the interests of the populace.

Which takes us to health care. People here appear to be ambivalent about the new law because it remains a mystery to them (and most of us still…I read today that the federal government is arranging some program for state participation that will make insurance for adults with pre-existing conditions more affordable sooner rather than later…are they patching some of the weaknesses of the new legislation? Must check out the NYTimes healthcare section for details.). They have several very good medical centers and a huge VA medical center here. Unemployment is at one of the lowest levels in the nation. I think if it came down to it, though, the neighbors would say yes to healthcare for everyone because it makes too much sense. We have a glimmer of that possibility in the outrage that greeted the governor’s announcement that he was eliminating state funded pre-natal and newborn care. His position was that private agencies could provide these services. Well. The announcement struck a nerve that crossed parties and demographics. Low unemployment rate notwithstanding, private agencies are struggling for funding and coping with greater demand. No one seems to like this governor’s attempt to reduce government in such a short-sighted, inevitably costly way. A type of green shoot, wouldn’t you agree? (Not the governor, obviously.)

So it is good to get out of San Francisco and California every now and again. Clearing last fall’s pin oak leaves from under the barely budding lilac bushes is sane work. Being introduced to your parents’ friends as you run errands around the city reinforces the parents are doing just fine out here. Seeing the new university buildings on both campuses is tangible proof of all the news shorts that applications for admissions are up. And what could be more charming than checking in for miniature golf and seeing a high school junior wearing your school colors – and finding him happy to chat about his plans and ambitions rather than refuse to make eye contact because he is glued to his iphone (which we was, the minute we left with our clubs).

Most of all, it is good to be reminded that while many parts of the country outside San Francisco deserve to be demonized for their pettiness, cruelty, and stunningly short-sighted decision making, it’s not true about this part of the country. Or all parts of the country as a generalization. I would like to think rational, somewhat more outward looking thought is on the increase. It seems to be here.

Still and all, it will be wonderful to be back in SF.

Yours, LLII.

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