So ... this man walks into a room with his wife and his two daughters. The room happens to be in the White House, but it could be any house. Happens there’s the chief justice of the United States there, a camera and unseen other people.

The man and the chief justice acknowledge each other. The wife stands between them, casually holding a couple of Bibles. The man places his left hand on the Bibles, his right hand upward. A simple oath is administered and taken. The two men shake hands, and the man has become the president of the United States for a four-year term. A simple, straightforward passage of power, authority and responsibility.

No overthrow of government, no barricades against armed opposition, no military coup. A simple freely taken declaration to uphold the Constitution.

Subsequently the oath was repeated with pomp and ceremony, celebrations, speeches and parades. What cannon fire there was was ceremonial. A peaceful and happy observance.

I can get a little gushy about our peaceful transfer of presidential power. A lot of people do. Enough talking heads express such sentiments or conclusions. A New York Times reporter, noticing expressions along those paths, kind of snarked that “it almost seemed as if most foreign heads of state routinely set their successors on fire.” (Sic. I believe she meant predecessors, not successors — BR) OK, we’re not alone. But makes me proud to be an American.

Personally I remain most affected by the quiet oath-taking despite having learned that the most lasting, overwhelming legacy left of Inauguration Day 2013 is whether a performer at the event lip-synched her song or not.

Can’t wait to find out.

And now women can serve in combat in our armed services. Humph.

To our enemies throughout the world: These are women — I say to you, American women — who are gonna be fighting you. Take some advice: Capitulate now.

Give it up. Make peace.

During Secretary of State Clinton’s testimony before a Senate committee last week, the phrase “so that it will never happen again” was used. “It” is an act of violence, almost any act of human-caused violence.

That phrase is unfortunate. First off, that cannot be attained. Worse, it serves as a challenge to some potential perpetrators to try to match or outdo the worse offenses. You know, for the headlines and, well, legacy.

The best that can be done is to try to see to it that “it” — or something similar or worse — doesn’t happen again. Never is difficult to assure.

Barely 24 hours after quietly beginning his second term as president, the man took the oath before hundreds of thousands of onlookers, an audience of dignitaries and cameras from all over the world. He then delivered an inaugural address, short but full of substance — even talk of climate change.

One reference in his address in particular got to me at the time and gets to me when reprised in TV clips. It was the way President Barack Obama pronounced the phrase “we the people.” He said, “We ... the people.”

That significant pause made an emphasis of deep meaning, at least for me. It was, so to speak, a pause that refreshes.

Field Notes: Recent days would quality, I should think, as a January thaw. The sparse snow on the valley floor is slush. As I scribble this, it’s 39 degrees Fahrenheit at my home, under an overcast sky. Going to be tough on ungulates.

Roman Kravetsky has noticed a small number of Bohemian waxwings around town recently. It hasn’t been a waxwing winter so far. Not a pine or evening grosbeak winter either. Common redpoll season all over the lower 48 states. Rosy-finch year. The clear winner: Eurasian collared doves.

We welcome your observations, either through Nature Mapping Jackson Hole or by direct contact. Your sightings are important.

© Bert Raynes 2013


Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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