Fourth Of July – A Colonial Garden

It is not often I check statistics for my blog but when WordPress notifies about higher than normal traffic on pbmGarden I become curious. Yesterday the stats led me back in time to late June 2012 and a visit to Colonial Williamsburg with my husband. I guess someone had come across the post and looked through images of a beautiful vegetable garden we had seen there.

The last image in that article features an emblem embedded in the sidewalk at the Visitor’s Center. Viewed as one is about to enter the 18th century-based historic area one is invited to, “Walk Back In Time.”

As one returns to the visitor center from the historic area the message reads, “You Have Returned To The 21st Century.  Democracy. A Work in Progress.”

Wow, did that ever strike me. While in 2012 probably I just included the emblem because it seemed clever or quaint or a good way to end my post, now in 2021 with America’s democracy in tatters, it seems an opportune reminder America’s democracy has always been fragile and requires vigilance.

While naively I had always expected America would constantly refine, clarify and improve our democracy to embody equality and justice, the past five years in particular have shown how backwards and muddled that democracy could actually become. When in plain sight of the world GOP leaders try to walk back events of January 6, whitewashing away the violence and intent, and throngs of Americans still support them, I am frightened. When the Supreme Court winks at blatant attempts to undermine voting rights, I despair. When vaccines are available here and many Americans refuse to do their part, I struggle. When education is already under attack and the trustees of my alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, politicize the recommendation of tenure  for a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and UNC graduate, I am sad. (This last item at least took a positive turn when under pressure tenure was eventually approved, though the underlying issues remain.)

As the nation celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence with fireworks in drought-stricken areas and beach vacations along coastlines under stress from climate change, the willful ignorance of many in this country leads me completely baffled.  I do not pretend to have answers but I recognize a day of Facebook feeds filled with flag pictures will not be enough to unite us.

So while I normally prefer to stick to gardening in this blog, seeing that phrase yesterday “Democracy. A Work in Progress” gave me pause and compelled me to speak. America is full of decency and I hope it will prevail. But when a rich person, a private donor from Tennessee, can effect the deployment of a National Guard unit from South Dakota to yet another state, the border of Texas, I wonder if decency and democracy itself can survive. Power, influence, money plus a strangely-aligned segment of American politicians and public willing to suspend truth and reality, these elements threaten this country’s core.

In Colonial America unrest led to independence and the founding of this country and our journey since has not been a straight line. I hope the current-day unrest will not pull us further backward, but instead will lead to progress and fairness. Meanwhile it’s okay to eat that hot dog and fly the flag 🇺🇸.  America is a large idea.

The 2012 post that got me thinking today reflects none of the controversy of the times, neither the eighteenth century nor now. See for yourself, the colonial garden in Williamsburg was sheer delight.

Cardoon in garden at Williamsburg. June 25, 2012

16 thoughts on “Fourth Of July – A Colonial Garden

  1. Kristine Peterson

    I can’t think of a better image to capture where things stand on the eve of Independence Day this year, Susie. Your words capture my own feelings of dismay and sadness. The country seems to be at a tipping point. I have a lot of faith in the generations that follow ours, though, and remain hopeful that the will of the collective will eventually push toward the future we’d all like to see.

  2. Cathy

    I don’t claim to know much of American politics Susie, but have taken more of an interest as I have got older, and my blogging friendships and the feelings you and your US colleagues have shared have made it far more real to me. There are so many things I have read or heard about that just seem to beggar belief…

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks for your comment Cathy. It’s been appalling to live through the past few years here. “Beggar belief” is my new favorite phrase.

  3. Eliza Waters

    Well-put. Susie. I couldn’t have said it better. As Cathy above puts it, some of the shenanigans that the GOP are trying to get away with ‘beggar belief.’ I pray that sanity and decency prevail.

  4. Chris Mousseau

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve shied away from American newscasts for the past five years, but it’s sometimes hard to avoid, living just on other other side of a big lake. What I did hear and read was often very frightening, and quite often just left me shaking my head.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Chris, thanks for your comment. Trust me, many of us Americans have reacted as you did, sometimes just trying to hide from the ridiculousness in the news. It is a frightening time.

  5. Pauline

    A very thought provoking post. I have watched the news coming from the USA over the past few years and really hope that the coming years can only be much better.

  6. gardeninacity

    I absolutely share your concern. I never thought our denial of reality and cultivation of ignorance and hate would reach their current levels. I hope for better, vote, make a few donations and look to the garden for solace. I stay away from politics on social media, though. It is toxic and no one ever changes their minds.

  7. Kevin

    “Liking” this post isn’t enough. I agree with every single word you’ve said. I feel your angst and worry. Like you, I’ve also fretted over the past six years — friendships have ended, family relationships have cooled or frozen. Many times, I shut myself off from social media and news and isolated myself in my garden. It’s safer for me there and better for my mental health. I’m writing this to you on the six month anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol, and I live in a state that leads the nation in the number of arrests directly attached to that assault. I know that if it had been an Islamic or BLM attack, there would be actions and investigations and raids and many more arrests — including of any political leader who encouraged/enabled that attack. Now, there’s nothing… crickets and the perpetuation of the big lie. Am I distressed? Most definitely but each day — I take care of my corner of the world and I yearn for this country to refocus itself “in order to form a more perfect union.” Thanks for listening. Stay safe and be well and breathe.


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