Liddick: Spring slop

Morgan Liddick

Ah, spring. Bluebirds are nesting again in the siding of a neighbor’s house, their temporary aeries courtesy of a local woodpecker. The aspens are flourishing, the wildflowers are starting to appear in the front garden and the dandelions and wild berries are engaged in a death-struggle to determine which species will overrun the driveway at the side of the house this year.

I love spring. It’s the season in which “hope and change” aren’t examples of empty political sloganeering, they are products of the natural world. Change is all around us at the moment as the land continues to wake up from the long white quiet of winter. Snow still visits occasionally, but doesn’t tarry. One smells the rain – that delicious mixture of just-washed air and wet-earth scent that lifts one’s heart and lightens the step – and hopes it will make the flowers prolific and wildfires a problem somewhere else.

Spring. It’s the calm before the storm, the deep breaths before the plunge into what will surely be summer and autumn’s political maelstrom in a cesspool. Clouds are already gathering, and by all indications it’s going to be quite a season. Colorado’s a swing state, so we better batten down the hatches.

While it lasts, spring is a good time to reflect on the year’s possibilities. This year, there’s at least a chance that a majority of us might remember that government, while necessary for a few things, is not the be-all and end-all of life. It might provide physical security, but it can’t provide happiness. Not even if – like the Democrats’ ideal of Everywoman, Julia – you’re married to it.

Government doesn’t make the sun come up or the grass grow. It doesn’t make tomatoes ripen. It doesn’t create wealth, except through very indirect methods such as infrastructure development – at which it is rather inefficient. It can’t “heal the earth” or stop the seas from rising. When it tries, we get to watch 500 million taxpayer dollars evaporate in a losing concern like Solyndra – but we still can’t capture methane emissions from coal mines and use them, killing two birds with one stone. Too hard to do more than one thing at once, and right now, we’re buying windmills.

Watching the sun set on the Tenmile Range while the soft evening air flows slowly around you like the whole Blue Valley is breathing washes away care. It’s relaxing; it’s a remedy for envy. Can a government do that? Evidently not. Instead, our president diligently works to fan the fires of envy among us to a white-hot heat. He promises vengeance to those he says have been wronged, and proposes that the government take from those who have had success, to support those who haven’t. He has a list of people he says want punishing. He thinks it clever politics. Time will tell.

Spring days are a reminder that at some basic level, we are very much the same. Who doesn’t like a nice walk in the warm sunshine (just remember your sunblock and hat, OK?) Who doesn’t like the scent of pine that doesn’t come out of a deodorizer? Enjoy it while you can. Very soon, we will be hearing that we are not the same, not at all. Whether it’s congressmen wanting to throw granny off a cliff or a president who isn’t an American, we’re going to be treated to a nonstop shower of sludge from those on all points of the political spectrum who claim to have the power to look into the hearts of others and find there only evil. It’s hogwash, and we should all treat it as such.

We should also all remember, when the 30-second sound bites fall like volleys of poisoned arrows and the political rhetoric sloshes over the lip of the television and threatens to swamp the living room: This stuff is only around because we want it to be. If we decide we’d rather make our own decisions, gather our own information and make measured choices, we can. It’s as easy as turning off the slop and devoting more time to thinking for ourselves. Maybe without the distractions, summer will be as enjoyable as spring.

In the meantime, take in a sunset or two. And take deep breaths. Really deep breaths. You’re going to need that oxygen later.

Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. E-mail him at

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