Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Pogo Possum, a cartoon personality and one of the last surviving members of the “Okefenokee Eleven,” died December 5. Mr. Possum brought blue-eyed cheer and soft satire to millions of Americans during the dark years of the Cold War and the McCarthy Era. He was 66--an exceptionally advanced age for a marsupial. He died the victim of an apparent hit-and-run accident on Hawksnest Road.
In a bizarre turn of events, a hiker spotted his flattened body in the middle of the possum crossing, and took a cell phone photo, running off to summon the Harwich animal body detail. But when they arrived, the remains had disappeared, leaving only a furry grease spot on the road. After several days of deliberation, the Cartoon Coroner pronounced him “out of print.” The SPCA is conducting an investigation.
Accident scene--the cell phone photo
Possum began work in the cartoon industry in 1943, soon growing into the rounder, baby-faced contours of Disney characters. He was famous for introducing political and social satire into comics. But satire led to his phone being tapped by the FBI, and some officials wondered whether the whimsical banter of Pogo and his friends was a code produced by Russian spies. More
Pogo and his gang of Okefenokee misfits portrayed an ideal southern society, without species divisions.
His increasing popularity led to an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1952. His campaign slogan, “I go Pogo,” became an expression of protest. Perhaps the most famous quotation attributed to Mr. Possum is: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Possum’s longtime friend, Churchy LaFemme said: “That quote says it all… about why our ponds are in trouble.”
Churchy LaFemme was last seen headed south.
"This park ain't safe for critters, because of the OHVs."
In his later years, controversy swirled around his name, while partisans all but forgot the old marsupial himself. Legally, it’s Possum, but the National Association of Taxonomists long championed Opossum, while the Society of English Teachers campaigned for ‘Possum ( the apostrophe to signify the missing “O”). Meanwhile, the Irish claimed it was O’Possum. Next, proponents of Intelligent Design argued that, since opossums hadn’t changed in 60 million years, that meant evolution was dead.
Home at Hawksnest
Park neighbor Liz McBride said, “Posthumously, he‘s still the Protest Possum. People are going to rally to protest neglect of the park by the State." The funeral date is to be announced. Thousands are expected.
Tiptoeing over the trash at the Round Cove Rd. parking area. Ouch.
All drawings except Bucky copyright by Walt Kelly, used here under "fair use" provision of law. Photos copyright by David Thompson
at 8:27 PM
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Lake Mendota, with Wisconsin state capitol in rear
Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is famous for its lakes. But while they look great on post cards, the reality is not so nice. Recently, Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources has been trying to revise the shoreland zoning rules--with much controversy. Business groups are howling that property owners are going to lose their property rights.
L. Mendota: shoreland development, and muddy runoff from a storm
We should start a "Sister Lakes" organization, because the two lakes have a lot to teach one another. Lake Mendota has slipped a long way down that road towards senility (eutrophication), while Hawksnest is still young and pristine. So Hawksnest can teach people in Wisconsin what pure water is like, and how to get there.
Hawksnest is so pure you can see right to the bottom from a canoe. When I was a kid living on its shore, I could drink the water as I swam. And yet it was warm enough for comfortable swimming. You'd come back from a swim cleaner than you went in (now a radical idea in Wisconsin). The bottom is sandy, not mucky--there are no weeds to tangle your legs.
That's why I'm a crusader for water quality. I've experienced pure water, and I can't forget what it's like.
Shore vegetation and sandy soil filter water going into Hawksnest
And what does Lake Mendota have to teach Hawksnest?
Sadly, it's a warning. People who visit Hawksnest are oblivious to its rare value, take it for granted, and are hell-bent on abusing till it becomes just like Lake Mendota.
If Hawksnest could give some sisterly advice to Mendota, she would say: "Look at my shore. Everywhere it's clothed in vegetation. Not a drop of rainwater gets into my body--unless if falls on my face, or flows through the ground, or flows through my "skin" of shoreland plants. I need my shoreland zone. Puncture that, and I'll start to die."
A pond starting to die? Off-highway vehicle abuse at Hawksnest.
Click here for more about water problems of Lake Mendota and Madison, WI.
at 11:15 AM