Post-election Stress and the Outdoors

A mountainside watercress spring – a constant in a turbulent world.

Hurrah! It’s November 4 and the political campaign is over.

To be sure, the campaigns might be over, but I’m fully aware that politics is not over. While there are still votes to be counted around the country, I’m hopeful that by the time you’re reading this we’ll have some sense as to the winners and losers, and things can begin to sort themselves out. Whether or not we like the results of the election I’d suspect most of us will appreciate being able to turn on our television without being bombarded with the mud-slinging and innuendos of this year’s political commercials. Both my wife and I cast our ballots in mid-October; so all those commercials were wasted on us. I got really adept with the mute button, as well.

Along the political theme, I’d like to share some thoughts I put in my new book, Golden Years, Golden Hours, in a chapter titled, “Life Goes On.”

In the mountains, on a sunny, late afternoon, there is quiet, peace, and a sense of serenity.

We’re now halfway through the hunting season and before the season finally ends in January, we’ll be in winter and mild, sunny afternoons of autumn will be a pleasant memory. On the other hand, we have finally arrived at the end of the political season with most of the votes counted and winners declared. We could have a new president (or not) and the rest of the political pecking order, from the nation’s capitol to local courthouses and city halls, will be pretty well sorted out. No doubt some fear the sky is falling while others are celebrating.

In any event, now that the political season has ended, we can get back to the basics. Stock markets go up and stock markets go down. Politicians win elections and politicians lose elections. We’ll take a day (or more) to celebrate or mourn over our favorite candidates and then life goes on.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in politics. In fact, I’m kind of a politics and news junky. I have strong feelings about a lot of issues and candidates. On the other hand, during a long career as a Federal employee I walked a careful line to avoid violating Hatch Act prohibitions against partisan politics among Federal employees. It was rather liberating, after I retired from government service, to be able to volunteer in some political campaigns.

Still, campaign seasons come and go. Candidates win and candidates lose. If it seems, occasionally, that my fellow voters don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain, I’m pretty sure that in the next election that some of them will come around, Political pendulums do swing both ways.

We actually escaped Montana politics for a few days this past week, to go to visit our son, Kevin, and his wife Jen, in Minot, North Dakota, and to spend several days in pursuit of pheasants on the prairies. There weren’t any hot political races there this year, so there wasn’t quite so much political uproar going on, though covid-19 more than made up for it. Hopefully, I’ll have a pheasant story or two to share in coming weeks.

Now that we’re back home I’m looking forward to, I hope, some better weather and some more outings in search of ruffed grouse in nearby mountain foothills. I plan to visit one of my favorite spots in the next few days, where there’s a magical place at the bottom of a hillside where springs nourish a bed of watercress before the spring’s waters join the small stream farther down the hillside. 

In a changing autumn landscape, that spring is a constant, with a steady flow of crystal clear water and the Kelly green of watercress that contrasts with the color of all seasons. It’s also the source of an annual watercress salad, a hunting season bonus on which, unlike grouse, we can depend.

The political season is finally over—for a little while. It’s time to get back to hunting.

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