Bambi be damned

The political clans that have ruled as long as any Latin American oligarchy you can name took it on the chin Monday in Iowa. Jeb Bush barely doubled the vote of an individual named Gilmore, the former governor of the State of Obscurity, who, unbeknownst to the nation, was also seeking the Republican nomination until he peeled off with Hucklebee and one or two other nuisance candidates at the midnight hour on Monday. Hillary Clinton, the Evita Peron of North America, squeezed out a win with some help from coin tossing in a few of the caucuses. The Iowa outcome was a start to proving to the world that we are not yet a banana republic, but the proof will be in the pudding some months hence, to mix food groups. Meanwhile, does anyone still trust polling? It is clear that cell phone and the reluctance of its owners to answer tedious questions from strangers has brought a crisis of confidence to the opinion-surveying community. This is doubly bad for politicians because polls are how they decide what to say and pretend to believe. If hiring a pollster is no better than wetting a finger and holding it to the wind, why spend all that money? You might as well go with what your heart and mind says before pollsters were invested with the authority of the soothsayers of old.

I was reminded again this week of why pick-and-shovel work has such a bad reputation. I had to move several plants to ground that gets more sun, a job requiring those tools because the rocky Arkansas soil is why settlers in the 19th Century continued on westward, no doubt leaving a string of curses behind. Oh, my aching back. Remember Peter Pain, the little demon in print ads who plunged his pitchfork into the stress-bearing parts of the human anatomy? I think Ben-Gay was the product Peter was pushing.

These are not fruitful grounds for gardening for another reason. I chased off a herd of twenty deer the other day, something I do every week or so. Bow hunters pick off a hundred or so during the season, but that doesn’t seem to do anything to lessen herd fecundity. They devour nearly everything a naïve gardner puts in the ground. We lived in Montana before moving here, which offered elk as a bonus nuisance, but I never saw deer in such numbers. Apart from the bow hunters, the automobile is their only threat and they give as good as they get, according to the police log which documents such encounters. They bounce up after most collisions and disappear into the woods. We had one ourself that resulted in $5000 damage to the car, the deer showing not even a limp as it disappeared into the forest, and there have been several near misses. Most people are not aware deer are the most dangerous animals in North America. Drivers veer to avoid them and run off the road or into a tree. Two hundred people die a year and the property damage runs around $4 billion annually. Without the wolves, panthers, bears and other predators to thin the ranks, there are more deer now than when the Pilgrims landed.

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