It has been quite a while since I’ve been away from home. Two weeks seems both a long and a short time to be away. The things I miss most (or feel most) are a bit of a surprise. I really want to hear the big lake when I step out and catch its scent and that of the nearby woods when I step out. The “scents” of organized civilization don’t compare to the natural aromas of pre industrial fresh snow wearing a hint of balsam fir with birch bark essence. And oh, do I want to smell wood smoke as I do outside my Hovland home. Car and bus exhaust simply stink with no redeeming value to me other than they represent use of petroleum with all the attendant issues of nonrenewable resources and the continued massive flow of economic power to freedom friendly places like Saudi Arabia and etc. where women are legally second class to males and any belief other than theirs (which in my opine they sit on like bloated poison toads) illegal (yes, they hold that to be a non-believer outside the Muslim umbrella as a punishable offense). It puts a new slant on human rights and women when censorship and rigid gender rule claims to be an expression of freedom. Do you think that’s how freedom works? Freedom used to support rigid repression is not freedom. It is tyrannical. So for me smelling the wind wearing a rich wreath of northland smoke heating my winter home from the effort of a local logger is more than just a heat source. It is part of a very important system that includes freedom with a possibility of abuse that is far less dangerous than enforcing codes of religious or gender absolutism.

Being away from home makes me more aware of how things fit and work together because at least for me nothing stands alone. The smell of wood smoke from local trees is a connection to the land I find more constructive than burning petrochemical plus it is a connection to and a reminder of a simple way to live and express freedoms.

Outside my usual bubble of association has brushed up against numerous political opinions. What I’ve seen and heard is by no means scientific or presented as valid, but two things look pretty clear to this north shore guy away from home. We have two big contenders for national office in an otherwise cluttered field. If I step back, as perhaps the only way to begin, I have to say the she vs he contest that appears to loom is about as unexpected as a Kuwaiti prince being a champion of gender equality. In any case, from the things I hear people say the contest for President is between Hillary and Trump. Who’d have thought, huh? But being frank, I don’t much care for either choice, though I do find it highly interesting a character as otherwise unappealing as Trump would have such traction. I don’t like the man or his style, but the way he gets attention shows me there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is a far cry from days when the political parties were relatively satisfied with their candidates and had control of the process. Trump has dented that fender. For the terror some express at the possibility of his taking office I smile in part because I think our political governmental system is strong and resilient enough I would neither worry nor panic.

Now, we in Minnesota are perhaps well adapted to a candidate such as Trump. After all we had Jesse, didn’t we? Seems to me Trump is a national scale version of Ventura who didn’t turn out to be near as bad as the panicked and perturbed predicted and proclaimed. They were wrong and Jesse actually did OK. If Trump popped up in tights (not a picture I want to hang onto or see in the flesh) like Jesse the wrestler, well, you get the idea. Dissatisfaction with the candidates from the official political parties and with current practice said essentially that any new and clear voice was preferable to more political bull. Of course, Trump is a champ bull slinger for sure, but he is comparatively honest and open about it compared to the nuance dancers that dominate please everyone politics.

The plus things I’ve heard expressed for Hillary are about as intriguing as the objections heard for Trump. The plus Hillary views I’ve heard favor her experience which includes Bill. Now there is a twist. A wife to husband presidential team would be a novelty supreme. The concept of First Lady gets turned on its head with that combo. The idea gets more extreme when the First Lady Husband was also once the Commander in Chief. Here’s a level of complication Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton would not have imagined or planned for. We caught them napping. It is fun to imagine how that might work out. On her own right I take some issue with a candidate’s experience when it nuances fact to disguise really unpleasant truths. For me, when Hillary lauds Indonesia as a model of moderate Islam I wonder why she glosses over the fact that the female half the population is kept in submissive costume and is subject to public whipping for standing too close to a non-related male. There is nothing moderate about legal, institutionalized gender discrimination. If you don’t have the sense to represent and stand up for hard won rights we enjoy by kissing the butts of religious extremists and thereby help them enforce their tyrannical system you’ve lost my respect and support. Face facts. A system that smiles about its abuse of women is not worthy of my respect. Every time we in any way bow to some little thing like required female costume to keep women in place we betray many to continued humiliation and abuse. That isn’t moderate. That’s just bad and should be opposed, not lied about to make it seem OK.

So, between wood smoke and politics there are connections that count. I’m keeping my eyes open and hope to sniff new things in the wind next week.