Why visit Bayliss?

When you enter Bayliss, population 402, you’ll see no sign announcing a town. No speed zones, no cluster of shops, no factories. Amid the farms and private homes, only one building stands out. The Bayliss library. It’s stood along the road for a century, and this Saturday, June 24, 2017, it is surrounded by a huge outdoor crowd, there to celebrate.

Behind the library are various speakers, including politicians from both major parties. There are major and minor librarians. There are the Chico Area Orchestra in red shirts and black pants, and a Mennonite choir.

Along one side of the building you can buy home-made ice cream, berry pies, hotdogs, and boxes of library books.

On the other side of the library, under sun shades and on a dense lawn backed by a high hedge of trumpet vine, you can find Author Row, and me. Predicted temperature for that day is 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Situated as we are on the lawn, however, we are blessed by natural evaporative cooling. I sit there with my husband at our table and feel a cool breeze, mixed with an occasional warm breath. That means the temperature is in the upper nineties. Comfortable. Merciful.

There’s a lot of activity on the other side of the library as families examine books and eat goodies.

On our side, much less activity visits Author Row. I listen to a plane either dusting crops or planting. The hedge is too high to see it. Not far away, a rooster crows. A sparrow flies worms or insects to its nest in a tree. A hummingbird checks out the red geraniums and yellow chrysanthemums beside the library steps. The speakers in back are too far away to hear, but the excellent band plays catchy tunes from the Big Band Era.

There is an old-fashioned picnic feel among these outdoor activities. I take a few moments to venture inside the library where a table takes up a big part of the interior and displays three cakes in patriotic frosting for the centennial. The cake is free for the eating. And what I take for a standard size dictionary is really a box of bookworms, gummy candy, also free.

With all the library books for sale, I don’t expect to sell anything. I give out bookmarks that show my book covers and how to reach me. I’ve laid a braid from when I had long hair near a novella, the braid I used in its cover. I prop up a drawing of a dragon I used in a science fantasy book cover. So the remarks come.

“Are you the author of all these books?’

My name tag says I am.

‘Is this your hair?”

Yep.

“Oh, I like dragons.”

Me, too.

“I love nature. I have this preying mantis egg case. Do you know when they hatch?”

Summer.

Good conversations. Promises. No sales. Connections with other writers. And a visit to a century-old rural library.

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The Climate March

Friday’s email told me a climate march would take place in Chico the next day. On such short notice, I wondered if many people would turn out. I arrived at the fish fountain in front of the municipal building on time, and saw three people, working on signs.

“Is this the right place? Are we having a march today? Where are the thousands of people?”

They were expecting their leader from 350 Chico, a local climate watch organization that had planned the march.

Gradually people showed up, mostly college aged, but also an older woman in a walker from a weekly peace vigil down the street, a man in a wheelchair, a homeless woman, and a college professor. The grand entry of a family of five, all bearing signs, was a real spirit lifter–not that spirits were low. We had plenty of signs, and eventually we numbered 30, not enough to march. Instead we lined both sides of the street where we bobbed signs and waved at passing vehicles.

The father of the family had promised his bathing suit clad kids a run in the plaza’s fountain afterwards. Meanwhile the daughter, Genevieve, who appeared to be eight years old, threw herself into leaping and dancing and yelling slogans and lectures nonstop. Traffic or none. It was fun watching her, so beautiful and athletic.

As drivers waved, gave us thumbs up, or honked, we answered with whoops. Woo-hoo! About 35% responded positively to us. Only three were negative. One guy farted black smoke out of his pickup’s tailpipe. Another gave a thumbs down. The third yelled “fuck you” with a dirty gesture. At that, words flew out of my mouth, “Jesus loves you!” Which earned me a surprised look from another sign bearer.

Did the insulter hear me? Possibly.

I thought about Trump who professes to be a Christian but acts like the devil. But then I thought, this rude guy who drove by is loved. And it’s out of love for our planet, ourselves, and our future generations that we are demonstrating…to save all life, and yes, even the lives of those who resist us. Our children and our children’s children want to live. Shouldn’t we give them that chance? We must.

Despair is no excuse for inactivity. The remedy for despair is to act. As long as there remains a shred of democracy, we can act peacefully–through the vote, through petitions, through contacting our representatives in the government, through writing articles, and even through prayer. Should our democracy completely disappear, where checks and balances no longer exist, where votes, petitions, and other peaceful protests are no longer allowed and our voices are silenced, only then would our protests turn violent.

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