Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Doom and Gloom - Not!

Watching CNN yesterday at noon I was amazed at the lines of people waiting to get their money out of the California bank that failed. On the way in to the village I heard that any money over $100,000 was not insured, so the excess would be returned 25 - 50 cents on the dollar.

I really never expected to see this in my lifetime. I thought of the scene in It's a Wonderful Life in which the people flood the bank, demnding their cash. Grapes of Wrath came to mind, with belongings (and Grandma) strapped to the pick-up. Say it ain't so!

Well, it's not. It's a different world today than in the Great Depression. Institutions learned from that and changed, put in safeguards so America (and the world) would never have to go through that again.

Yes, it will be different this year. Take the train, not the car to The City. Enjoy the beauty of the Finger Lakes and not Italy perhaps. Go to Saratoga and not Santa Monica. Sail instead of ski; Toggenburg instead of Aspen.

But as one door closes, another door opens.

If cooler heads prevail, perhaps five years from now we will be on the road to energy freedom - the hybrid cars, hydrogen cars, electric cars all may be the new thing but the "in" thing. We will have figured out how to heat homes without the high cost of oil - $4.77/gallon to lock in? We used over 1300 gallons a year until we disconnected the boiler! The pellet stove we bought in May has already paid for itself!

I do worry about the people who can't simply go out and buy a stove - but when everyone pulls together and faces the same circumstances, a sense of community can develop. Will develop, I hope. And it will be back to the old days - more kids will walk to school, but there will be fewer cars polluting. I have to believe that the number of vehicular deaths will drop dramatically.

A mortgage will return to being something that is earned, not blithely given away. There will be a pride of ownership that struggling to get something worthwhile encourages. The throwaway society we have become will change - the old mower will get fixed, the house renovated, the clothing stitched. I don't see the return of the darning egg, though, I must admit.

Change is always scary and being bombarded with unsettling images doesn't help. But I am excited to see what waits for us in five years, more than eager for a change of energy policy - I may have grandchildren some day who will benefit! But Skaneateles is not moving off the lake, and the lake isn't going anywhere either. No matter what - even if it means bringing back the trolleys and the trains - we will be able to spend a soothing summer afternoon in the park.