Staking Out Territory

October is a wonderful time of year, bringing cooler days, bluer skies and clearer air. It’s the very temperature we attempt to recreate during the more extreme seasons (if the word “extreme” can fairly be used to describe So Cal weather) with machinery that is often noisy, energy-hogging and never quite as comfortable as the near-perfect spring and fall days Mother Nature kindly provides.

October is a great time to be outside. Yesterday my route home took me through Topanga Canyon, so I detoured for a walk in the state park. Other than a mom and her toddler just learning to walk (what better place to take your first steps!), there wasn’t another human in sight.

Having lived in Topanga for nearly a decade, this park is almost as familiar as my backyard. I headed up a well-trod route in the direction of the waterfall, then ascended a trail so beloved by my family when my daughter Caitlyn was growing up that we nicknamed it Caity Hill.

Cresting that hill yesterday, I was greeted by a handsome two-point buck. Not wanting to send him running, I paused mid-step and returned his penetrating stare, savoring the moment. He kept his unwavering gaze trained directly upon me and I wondered what he was “thinking” about — his lady friend sitting quietly in the tall grasses nearby, visible only by the tips of her ears; alertness to a signal from me that might suggest danger; wariness of a territorial threat. Whatever it was, I felt a challenge in his eyes, so I dropped into my heart and sent silent messages of communion and safety. Either he relaxed or I did — maybe a little of both — but within a few minutes the space between us began to feel easier. I don’t know how long he would have continued gazing, but he was already home for the night whereas I had other things to do, so after a while I reluctantly moved on.

As I considered the encounter later that evening, I wondered why it is that we humans struggle so to share our planetary space, why it’s so difficult to co-exist peacefully. As Rodney King said after the riots that tore apart our city in 1992, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”

That’s a good thought to ponder as we approach the November elections. All over the country, allegations have been flying. Here in our state, the governor is campaigning with an adroitness I didn’t know he possessed. He’s accepting compromises that seem designed to seduce voters into thinking he’s on their side after all, making concessions to those who forget that during the 2004 election Schwarzenegger campaigned hard for the worst environmental president in history: He made a deal with the Democratic-controlled legislature calling for a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. He’s talking about solar power and health care (though he’s accepted nearly $4 million in donations from health insurers, HMOs, drug companies, doctors and hospitals). And he very vocally defied the president’s request for more of our National Guard on the border. All this is tempting, especially in the face of an opposing candidate who does little to inspire our confidence.

So a brief reminder: Whatever their disagreements, Schwarzenegger left our state to campaign heavily for warmonger George W. Bush. He spent millions of taxpayer dollars to flout the will of the legislature and court “the will of the people” in a special election where the people clearly said no — millions that could have been invested in our flagging education system. And most disconcerting, Schwarzenegger is tempting our elected representatives with longer term limits IF they will agree to his plan for redistricting — a maneuver that had disastrous results in Texas.

I know you’re probably happy that the governor seems to be responding to issues we care about, but think carefully before you vote. Look at the big picture and consider the joy of living in a state that is progressive not only about the environment, but politically and socially. A state that voted for stem cell research, equal rights for all citizens and investment in education. Go to Consumer Watchdog and find out what businesses are owed favors by both candidates. Schwarzenegger has raised $100,790,924 in special interest money, and as he himself declared three years ago, “Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something.”

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

Original Page