Imagery and the Election

THE NIGHT before the Big Election we slept at Inverness, a beach enclave north of San Francisco that is right smack on the major San Andreas faultline.

(Gotta love the hint and nudge of the objective correlative: earthquake possibilities and the election side by side.)

Election day bloomed sunny. News sources predicted that the earliest time Hillary Clinton would be declared winner was 5:30 PST, so we walked out across the dunes to Kehoe Beach to watch the sunset.

I noted details that might tell the day’s story: the miles-long empty beach, washed clean, as for the fresh start of the first woman president; the moon slashed by a jet trail, like a giant ballot mark, a celebratory green flash as the sun sunk into the Pacific.


When, in the wee hours of the morning, Donald Trump was declared the next president of the United States, I realized I had made a big mistake in choosing metaphors. I should have noted, instead, our long slog through mud and sand, the putrid corn chip smell along the marshland trail, the huge breakers five and six layers deep that pummeled the shore. And the signs along the beach: “Riptide Warning” and “Beware of Sneaker Waves.”

WE FLIPPED on the TV Wednesday and heard our president Barrack Obama remind us again how we are One America. He said Donald Trump had spoken to him of the same intent: for America to be whole again. Obama used the analogy of the presidency as a relay race, stressing the importance of the handoff of one administration to the next.

It has been hard to sleep. Each time the heater switches on, it sounds like a distant siren. A simile of danger. But, as Obama told us, life goes on. The sun comes up each morning.

THURSDAY we hiked on Point Reyes North Beach, the outermost western edge of continental America. The horizon was lost in thick fog. A young couple walked near the breakers. He had a baby on his back. She led a dog on a leash. They held hands. I need this hopeful image in the face of the unknown.

On the radio, political experts talk about how this election pitted those who want change at any cost against those who want the status quo. They say the election reveals a deep division in America.

Children’s books can play a role in addressing this gap. As children’s books become more diverse and better represent the vast variety of human experience, young readers will come to understand our great commonality as well as our differences. Understanding leads to empathy.

When we drive from Inverness back to San Francisco over the Golden Gate bridge we pass through a tunnel on each side. One tunnel is named for World War II General Douglas MacArthur, the other for comedian Robin Williams. That’s a pretty big divide, right?

Yes, it’s a bridge we’ll be needing. A Golden Gate. Maybe children’s books will help build it.


9 responses to “Imagery and the Election

  1. Thank you for this, my wise sweet sister.

  2. Laura,

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece. Wise woman. Tell Izzi to give you a big hug from me.

    Chris, Sophie, Nora and Bertie

    Sent from Chris’ iPad


  3. Thank you, Laura. We writers and artists and librarians and teachers are lucky. We have the chance to express our values in our work.

    • Yes!
      Today we went to the children’s bookstore Charlie’s Corner where they were celebrating their first birthday with a storytime party. There were at least 40 kids and adults there of all different backgrounds and I thought how wonderful it is to share the same story together. Another way our work lends common ground.

  4. Laura, thank you for your words of hope. I think about those two tunnels and how one shines light and one is darkness. I read the first warnings about what Trump intends to do, about the KKK leading a parade, about vigilantes. All this anger and hatred for what purpose? Yes, how we need books that show peace and compassion.

  5. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia

    A lovely, calm piece, Laura, written for a country gone mad. I think all of you wise, cultured and sane people had better get the hell out of America, and come to happy Australia! Trump (‘Let’s make America grope again!’) is considered a very bad joke over here, especially since this buffoon can hardly string a coherent sentence together. I do worry that he’ll appoint Ronald McDonald and Kanye West to the Senate! Lordy, Lordy – laughter is your best revenge…
    I wish you lovely people lots of luck!
    from Deirdre O’Sullivan

  6. Pt Reyes used to be my sweet escape place from San Francisco. The elks on Tomales point, Limantour beach, the whales swimming by. I enjoyed this trip back. Thanks.

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