New Hampshire’s motto proudly displayed on its residents’ license plates is Live Free or Die. A little scary as a precondition to settle in the state. Imagine asking yourself every morning: am I living free or do I deserve to die? It is not surprising New Hampshire has an above average depression rate. Other states may have more benign slogans but the idea of freedom is never far from American minds. At the onset of the Iraq war we had a conversation with a friend. Our reservations were met with a charge that we had no freedom gene. Implying of course that Americans have a unique perspective on liberty. While that’s debatable, one has to admit that coming up with the name Iraqi Freedom was a stroke of genius.
When everything else fails Obama can take a leaf from another war and depression era president’s book and institute modern equivalent of Civilian Conservation Corps. Not only will it address the disproportionally high unemployment among youngest workers but it will give us more stone cabins and overlooks on public lands. At least this is what happened when the CCC was formed in the 1933. After 9 years and countless improvements in national and state parks former members of the CCC were drafted to contribute their skills and lives to the war effort. Obama might prefer a different exit strategy. On the other hand we already have a war or two going on so may be he just needs to backtrack on his promise to pull back troops. Instituting draft would help as well.
We travel along Natchez Trace Parkway built roughly along the old trail used by boatmen to return home after floating down Mississippi river. It’s a strange road maintained by National Park Service. Driving it is like driving through 400 miles of park. You are easily fooled thinking you are in the middle of nowhere, but most of the time you are in the narrow green strip of trees isolating the parkway from farmland and subdivisions. Better this than nothing.
Note to self: don’t visit Oxford, Mississippi on Sunday. The city looks dead. Bars and restaurants are closed. No sign of the lauded nightlife. It is the direct result of the ban on alcohol sales on Sunday: one of the many dry laws in the state. It may be different during the week, but we have absolutely no desire to stay and check. We owe special thanks (and the fact we didn’t go to bed hungry) to Joel Miller, chef and proprietor of ravine and his staff, for keeping it open on Sundays. And for serving such excellent local food. Especially fresh ripe tomatoes from their own garden.