SKINNERS: For everything there is a season |

SKINNERS: For everything there is a season

Joe & Linda Skinner
Free Press Opinion Columnists
Joe Skinner
Staff Photo |

HE SAID: When I look at the garden this year, I remember the phrase from the Bible: “For everything there is a season …” It was just a little hard this year to figure out what the season was: A winter much more frigid than usual, wide swings in frost levels, fruit killed, and soils warming weeks behind normal. Now, we are into furnace-like days with no respite of clouds. I lament the damage done as I look at the blank spot in the garden where the oregano didn’t come back, but as I pay attention, I see that the weather vagaries also eliminated the critters I cannot control. There were few aphids this spring and the only sign of our normally prolific snail population is hollow shells. It is the time to rejoice in the cycles of nature, even if the hot wind is blowing.

SHE SAID: That relentless wind is trying to mummify everything, including my skin. What is bizarre is that there are now some gophers and rabbits out in the desert by the airport. The area has been devoid of those critters all spring. Now, when the weather is the most extreme, they’re back.

The circle of life is amazing. I am haunted by it, though, when I look at the dead bodies of two tiny hummingbirds caught in the tendrils of their nest outside. Why hummingbirds have chosen to build their nest over the front door, I will never know, but I have leaned a lot about them over the years. Occasionally, one or more of the babies may die; why they die is a mystery, but the mother proceeds to build another nest on top of the bodies of the dead babies and raise another brood. I have left a dead baby where it hangs to remind me that nature is not benign, but it is non-judgmental and that we humans need to remind ourselves to be more attuned to nature. We should not seek to exert our will and beliefs onto the rest of the world, but spend time to listen and learn from all living things around us.

HE SAID: And you accuse me of being philosophical! The human sphere has the same type of changes and cycles, some equally horrifying. Consider the business world. Of the companies that had the most revenue in 1955, and made the Fortune 500 list of successful companies, 87% are no longer on the list. That is the healthy creative destruction that drives businesses for the good of us all in a free-market system. Business is simple because you either make a profit to survive, or you die.

The real challenges are seen in the nonprofit or governmental areas. In these organizations, there are no clear benchmarks. If a student doesn’t learn, we don’t fire the teacher or the test maker, and if a nonprofit has a director who thinks they know better than the experts on the board, the organization loses energy and direction, but the organization limps on.

When we were young, a handshake bound an agreement. Now people walk away from a mortgage because they were lied to about the terms. We respected hard-working people, even if they didn’t make tons of money. Now, somehow, those people have become unworthy because they aren’t living in gated communities or driving luxury SUVs. And, finally, age gets no respect because the elderly are considered a bore or sucking up taxpayers’ money. As in nature, some of these current cycles we find ourselves in are not happy places.

SHE SAID: Wow, you are a downward spiral today. Businesses, governments and nonprofits do die, and there are others ready to build over their bones. I do feel your angst when it comes to being an elder in our society. Elders used to be revered and were an integral part of family life. Now, our mobility and youth-driven media have contributed to the break-up of extended families. It’s even harder to tell who the elderly are with all the hair dyes and cosmetic fixes available. Maybe we need to re-earn the respect of the younger generations rather than demanding it. We can re-earn it by not cutting ourselves off and showing that we care what happens to a community, not just with our tax dollars or lip service but by donating time and energy to the greater good.

The Skinners hope you do not feel ignored and forgotten. They can be reached at

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