Monday, February 3, 2014

The Pipeline and the Cereal Box

"Why, you look warm," said the old woman hidden beneath two coats, a pair of snowpants, one hat and a hood. "I am," I replied.

Cars honked as we lifted our hand-made signs protesting the Keystone Pipeline. This was not the kind of protest where you yelled and hollered. It was too damn cold. We just waved and hugged ourselves.

"I don't understand why there aren't more people out here," said Mary from within her layers. "I am 80 years old and look at me, out here in the snow and cold. This is too important. Don't people know that once we poison the water there is no going back?"

"I know," I said. I wondered too, why people have grown so apathetic.

Mary was holding a sign that read "Obama Stop the KXL". It was printed from a computer on white piece of paper that already had an old email printed on it. That's OK. The email was printed out in portrait, the protest message in landscape. This was then stapled to flattened cereal box, which was then covered in a clear plastic sleeve and stapled to a stick. Mary was thrifty. She reminded me of my Grandma.

"Come on let's march!" Mary shouted to the crowd in her 80-year-old voice. "It's too cold to stand still." But no one heard her. So she marched by herself, up and down the sidewalk. Three passes and she rejoined our little group.

"Hey," said Mary. "Did you read the article in that famous gardening magazine, you know which one I'm talking about?" she asked me.

"Better Homes and Gardens?" I answered.

"No, not one of the big fancy magazines, this one has the word Garden in it. You know, a magazine that a woman who wants to plant a big garden would read."

"Hmm, has the word Garden in it. Not ringing a bell to me," I told her. So she went to her car to fetch the article.

"Here it is," she said, handing me the page which was also in a plastic sleeve.

"Oh, Mother Earth News, yes I have heard of it," I said.

"Read that, it is only one page but is says it all," Mary instructed. I obeyed.

The article was on the dangers of fracking and all the chemicals that are in the water which is injected into the ground.

"There, now turn it over."

I again obeyed, and there on the backside was another protest sign, printed on an old email.

"You can use that for your sign," she said.  So I did. We stood on the side of the street in front of Michigan's Capital building for one hour, waving our signs at the cars passing by. Mary never faltered.

While this 80-year-old woman stood outside in zero degree weather holding her cereal box sign to protest a pipeline that will harm our Earth, where were you?

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