Jimmy Ibbotson: Power, paving and the price of `Freedom’ | AspenTimes.com

Jimmy Ibbotson: Power, paving and the price of `Freedom’

Things can’t be as bad as they seem. Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran can’t really mean anything to us anymore. The newspapers keep telling us of chaos in those countries and of our sons and daughters and nephews being shot by guys and gals who keep telling us to butt out of their affairs. It can’t be true that we are still losing soldiers to bombs and snipers over there. We are simply being misled by the Democrats. It is obvious. Since you are reading my words in a newspaper, you should believe my assessment of things.

You see, I am a newsman. I am a journalist. I write a column in the most prestigious Aspen Times Weekly. I must know more than you. I am well-read and still have my hair. I have a college degree and any number of professional awards. I haven’t actually gotten any journalism awards. I have a couple of Grammies. So, like Bono and Cher and Barbra Streisand, I have enough confidence in my voice to share my opinions with you, my loyal readership.

I want to tell you about my neighbor. He told me something last month that seems to relate to our country’s problems in the Middle East, and Carbondale’s problems in the midvalley. I will try to not make the connection for you; I’ll just tell you what he said to me. I should probably describe him. You may think I am talking about one of Woody Creek’s more famous people, but I am talking about one of our oldest citizens.

He lives next door with his wife of 67 years. They’ve lived here longer than anyone I know. He saves stuff. He has piles of stuff that was too valuable to throw out. We all dive into it when we need some bricks or a sheet of tin for a shed roof. He has kept his mind safe, too. He saved it from drugs and alcohol and jealous rages. He is in really good shape and is, I am told, sexy in his 80s. But his wife has never had to worry about him going home with one of the waitresses from the Tavern. He travels a lot, delivering Bibles for the Gideon Society (they are the ones who always see that there is a good book in your motel room). I wonder how many drunks he has saved from suicide.

Anyway, I am changing over to solar power. The deal in the Middle East just makes me cringe every time I think that I am wasting energy. My neighbor helped us the other day by wiring my electric water heater that we moved into the new utility room. It is there as a backup, in case we are stuck in an extended cloudy stretch. And for the next few weeks, it will still be my source of domestic hot water.

He said to me, “Now Jimmy. You know that it is going to take longer for your hot water to get to your shower now that your water heater is where it is. We have the same problem next door. Let me tell you what we do: I take a drywall bucket into the shower with me and run the cold water into it, then we use it to flush the commode.”

He was right about the water taking so long to heat up that we, on our common well, can’t afford to waste the fresh water. So I keep a couple of clean, plastic waste baskets by the shower and the kitchen sink. Aren’t I a good boy? It’s nice to have someone in my life who can point out to me just how wasteful we are and just how easy it is for me not to waste something as precious as drinkable water.

My mom used to reuse tin foil and wax paper. I don’t know how far I am willing to go. But I can see that we will save a lot of diesel by not bringing acres of parking spaces to that field across from the Co-Op in Carbondale. I guess you could make a long list of stuff that won’t have to be hauled to and from Carbondale, if they stay the way they are there. Underdeveloped.

My sister keeps telling me that Iraqis and Somalians and Chinese deserve a chance to have freedom. She sometimes seems to confuse freedom with “The American Way of Life,” a phrase that seems to mean that everybody deserves as much money as they can possibly make. If a man can sell his land to a golf course or a shopping center or a go-cart track or whatever makes him the most money, he should be allowed to do it. Right? Isn’t that the American way?

I know this much: I was meddling when I sang at a benefit for the Town Mothers in Carbondale. Me, an asshole from upvalley with deep pockets and a liberal agenda. I have no right to voice my opinion in a place where I don’t vote. I just wish I had saved my mind, like my neighbor. I’m glad that I am wasting less water. I’m glad that my downvalley neighbors in Carbondale did the right thing and don’t ever have to look back with regret over selling out to the commercial devils who want to pave it all over in the name of “Freedom.”

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