A thousand words


The whole world’s buzzing over this photo. It’s gone viral, as they say in cyberspace.

I confess I haven’t laughed so hard in, well, at least a year. 

But I guess you have to be an old, Canadian lumberjack like me to notice somebody forgot to light the fire in the White House fireplace. I mean, after all, there’s wood there, ready to be lit.

So, President Trump could be asking Prime Minister Trudeau for a match; and the hesitant look on our Justin’s face could be as simple as him wondering how he’s going to tell your Donald he doesn’t have one.

I look a bit closer and darned if it doesn’t look like that fireplace may have had a fire in it not that long ago.

In all seriousness I can easily imagine President Obama sitting there alone at night, deep in thought, staring into the fire.

I highly recommend it as a better alternative to staring at a television screen for hours on end. I’ve done that too. Can get to be a bad habit. Keeps you from looking inward. Maybe that’s where things started to go wrong.

Believe it or not a long time a go when I was a young fellow who watched way too much television I actually believed it could be a serious art medium. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a regular series of dramas written and produced for television. Was it NBC in the States that had Armstrong Circle Theatre? And I remember that wonderful series – on CBS, I think – You Are There that dramatized great moments in history. For some reason The Death of Socrates is the one that stands out in my memory. Those were the days.

Getting back to the White House fireplace, I hope if someone takes a notion to start that fire, that they remember to check the condition of the chimney flue, including for a build-up of creosote.

Last thing I’d hate to see is the White House burn and have no one consider the cause could have been as simple as that, as opposed to something much more sinister.

That looks like pretty well-seasoned hardwood in the White House fireplace – nicely-piled to burn well too. My guess is ash. Pretty common in the eastern woodland areas of the U.S., I expect.

That reminds me, I’ve got three or four ash trees along the driveway that have to be cut down soon before they’re no good even for burning, let alone for making axe handles. Emerald ash borer got into them. I suppose you could blame globalization for introducing that invasive species from Asia to North America more than a decade ago. Same with the European corn borer brought over in a shipment of corn brooms from Italy, so I’ve read, exactly 100 years ago. Many millions of tonnes of chemical pesticides have been used to control those pests and in the process done terrible damage to the soil and water of much of the U.S. and parts of Canada too. But I wouldn’t blame Italy for that.

Neither would I blame Mexico for stealing U.S. manufacturing jobs, with the help of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Corporate America saw an opportunity with low wages, and free trade, to take advantage for the sake of increased profits. It’s called the “free market” system, or capitalism; and it has led to the growth of low-priced, big-box coporate stores, and the death of of Middle-American Main Street.

By the way, Bacillus Thuringiensis is a soil-dwelling bacterium often used as an organic pesticide to control corn borer and earworm. I’ve used it quite effectively in my sweet-corn plantings. But in recent years it’s been used extensively in bio-engineered crops, especially corn.

As a University of Guelph agriculture professor told me when that started, “nature abhors a vacuum,” and sooner or later the pests will develop immunity, and something else will have to be found, or developed.

Things do get complicated.

But all in all it appears our PM handled himself well. Not his fault that lucky photographer captured a moment’s apparent hesitation that went viral.

Is that a thousand words? Close enough.

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