Footprints in the Dark

There are creatures in my woods. I know they are there and I’m not afraid. The deer come at night to dig in the snow in my backyard. They like to eat my perennials, the plants that are not found in the woods. I respect them, they travel in the dark to stay safe. It is part of their survival to constantly size things up and be prepared for a “fight or flight” response if danger appears.

Since the pandemic, I have not taken trips abroad or made the yearly trek down south. At first, I resented my confinement but it has a purpose. It has made me very aware of the world around me. I now notice deer tracks in the snow. I look to really see and have delved in the history of my area and the world in general. I search old ruins, find books and research the social and economic reasons why things are the way they are.

When I was little girl, I lived next to an orchard in Western New York State. My sisters and I had permission to ride our bikes on the dirt roads through the acres of fruit trees. Many times, during the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s, we would see African American migrant workers picking tomatoes in the large field at the back of the property. They purposely never looked up when we passed by. I never thought anything about it. Never cared to know where these people were from or where, in my all white community, they rested at the end of their long days. It was just the way it was.

Last summer when I went back to Niagara County for my 55th high school reunion, I drove around the area to see how things had changed. It is still agricultural with large commercial fields yielding various vegetables and vast acres of orchards and vineyards.

As I explored, I suddenly had to stop. After so many decades, I was shocked to see an almost identical image from my past, African-American laborers working in a field. I found out they were seasonal migrants just like I had seen so long ago. They were bused to work and, once a week, to the local grocery store so they could buy food. They were housed in local motels or in barracks provided by the farm owners.

I was stunned. Why were things the same? The ever present evidence of injustice and sadness in our world reminds me of another image from my childhood. The complexity of human interaction is like the tangle of necklace chains that were tossed carelessly into the bottom of my teenage jewelry box, its mess almost impossible to take apart. The tiny links fused together by the pressure of confusion, a labyrinth of twists and turns which could be only released by a lot of patience and effort.

We live in a complex world of meshing forces and systems too difficult to sort and understand. Democracy is suppose to be our country’s system. But I have realized there are many other systems in this country, some apparent, some hidden. It makes me feel hopeless.

I have always been puzzled by the system of lobbying where corporations and special interest groups can influence those in congress to vote a certain way by offering them lucrative campaign contributions and other perks..

And then there is the system guaranteed by Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows a corporation to be considered a person when making large political contributions.

I am heartbroken to see what is happening to the people of East Palestine, Ohio. I recently learned that in the 1920’s, the practice of holding companies was established which allows large investment firms to hold stock in many commercial entities. This gives them lot of financial and political power. This system has come to light during the clean up of the derailment. Norfolk South has some large and influential firms holding its stock. They include The Vanguard Group, The Backrock Fund, SSaga Funds Management, and JB Morgan, to name a few.

The system of immigrant and migrant labor (which is protested by some systems in our country with the help of some media systems) tries to cover its tracks but sometimes tragedy hits and exposes bad practices. Six migrants from Mexico were killed near the Canadian-US this winter as they were being bussed from their motel lodging to a solar project where they were working.

Footprints in the dark, systems beyond the principles of fairness are influencing our country and the lives of all citizens. It is natural for all animals to be alert and go into a defensive response when confronted by something that might hurt them. But we humans have been weaken by systems that diminish our ability to weigh the dangers in our lives. Our awareness is strongly influenced by the mass media, advertising, class hierarchy, politics, and the power of money. Certain systems purposely divide us so our collective energy is weaken. As we evolve, especially in the area in technology, the powerful systems formed to control us will make the darkness even harder to penetrate. We are like the story of the frog put into pot of cool water. It is oblivious to the fact that the water is slowly getting hotter as it heats upon the stove. The frog finally meets its demise as it is boiled.

Sometimes I hate my curiosity, my compulsion to pull back the curtain and discover why things are the way they are. But I will keep observing and writing. I won’t give up because I know that it is just what some systems want me to do.


@Copyright 2023 All rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “Footprints in the Dark

  1. Karen L Peters

    Gee, Connie, you have given me a lot to think about! Your observations of the “footprints in the dark” make me consider the things in my own experience that are “in the dark”, yet should have light shined on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      Thanks, Karen. We are influenced by a lot of trickery. We need to get our flashlights out. Honored to be called Connie. 🙂 I admire both of you, my sisters.


      1. Karen L Peters

        Oops! I had just finished reading a different thread from Connie! So just had her in my head! Sorry about that, my Theta sister! In any case, this particular piece really hit home for me. Keep on writing!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently read another article from a woman living in the U.K., an author like yourself, who described many hours during the Covid 19 shut down as a forced rejuvenation with nature and the inner reflections we all so longed to do.
    This writing is clearly a reflection of many hours of thought and reflection. The flow in this piece is outstanding.
    I think this writing deserves a nice sunny afternoon walk and maybe even an ice cream cone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      Thanks, Tammy. Funny how I had to have a pencil and notebook nearby this week. The post didn’t have flow originally. I would get insights getting out of bed in the morning and in the kitchen, etc. Bits and pieces appeared. The whole process is mysterious. Writing is truly an act of feeling. I will be out and about today to get pictures for my next post. It’s knocking around in my heart.


  3. Michele

    Such a good read. Thank you Joyce. Yes, COVID 19 forced us to confront isolation in different ways. Some tackled long overdue projects and some, like yourself, explored and studied their area. Thank you for sharing your discoveries.

    Liked by 1 person

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