Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poem for the day: Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry epitomizes to some degree, the idiocy of rural life.

A Speech to the Garden Club of America in the New Yorker, of course.

(With thanks to Wes Jackson and in memory of Sir Albert Howard and Stan Rowe.)

Thank you. I’m glad to know we’re friends, of course;

There are so many outcomes that are worse.

But I must add I’m sorry for getting here

By a sustained explosion through the air,

Burning the world in fact to rise much higher

Than we should go. The world may end in fire

As prophesied—our world! We speak of it

As “fuel” while we burn it in our fit

Of temporary progress, digging up

An antique dark-held luster to corrupt

The present light with smokes and smudges, poison

To outlast time and shatter comprehension.

Burning the world to live in it is wrong,

As wrong as to make war to get along

And be at peace, to falsify the land

By sciences of greed, or by demand

For food that’s fast or cheap to falsify

The body’s health and pleasure—don’t ask why.

But why not play it cool? Why not survive

By Nature’s laws that still keep us alive?

Let us enlighten, then, our earthly burdens

By going back to school, this time in gardens

That burn no hotter than the summer day.

By birth and growth, ripeness, death and decay,

By goods that bind us to all living things,

Life of our life, the garden lives and sings.

The Wheel of Life, delight, the fact of wonder,

Contemporary light, work, sweat, and hunger

Bring food to table, food to cellar shelves.

A creature of the surface, like ourselves,

The garden lives by the immortal Wheel

That turns in place, year after year, to heal

It whole. Unlike our economic pyre

That draws from ancient rock a fossil fire,

An anti-life of radiance and fume

That burns as power and remains as doom,

The garden delves no deeper than its roots

And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Listening to the sage from Clemson

Economist Bruce Yandle on what matters in an economy and what the Fed should do.

God Bless Bill Safire

We'll never see his like again. William Safire dies at 79.

A sound Nixon man and a better writer, Safire was always refreshing to read on the pages of an institution that epitomizes the liberal media.

This is a big loss.

More from The Daily Beast.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When September arrives in East Boston

When a trip to the Produce Center in Chelsea for cases of tomatoes signals not only September but the time to make a year's supply of tomato sauce.

Since the arrival of Italian immigrants in East Boston, the canning (or bottling to be precise) of tomatoes for Sunday morning sauces commences with the harvest. Some tomatoes are grown in backyards along with basil; others are purchased in Chelsea. Either way they are enjoyed year round once the flavor has been sealed in air tight jars

For a few days in the crispy air of fall, a pleasant smell of basil and tomato wafts through cellars below the three-deckers on the island that is known as East Boston. Those jars make Sunday possible.

There will be fewer of these days as time, that eternal constraint, and a generation of Italian families passes. Precious they are indeed those cellars in the autumn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

God bless Fred Cusick

That voice -- so distinct -- was part of my early life listening and watching the Bruins on Channel 38. The Bruins were all the rage back in the early 1970s. Fred Cusick, one of the best play-by play announcers in hockey, has died. He was 90 and left the benchmark for which all Bruins announcers will be measured.

The exhilarating voice was the narrative to the art that was Bobby Orr, the greatest hockey player ever.

Fred Cusick will be missed.

Hat tip to RedMassGroup.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

God bless Tony Dungy!

Former Indianapolis Colts coach, Tony Gungy is a remarkable human being. If anyone can help Michael Vick regain his footing literally and figuratively, it's Coach Dungy. Here's a piece of wisdom. "It's definitely harder being a dad than a coach."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

So many books, so little time in a beautiful Vermont bookshop

The solitude of a rural used book store in Plainfield, Vermont. The Country Bookshop on Mill Street is a feast for the restive mind.

Here are some of the titles I picked up for a song this past weekend.

Michael Grant, Julius Ceasar

Luciana Ferrara, The Treasures of the Borghese Gallery

Charles Mackay, LL. D. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

James Bruce Ross & Mary Martin McLauglin, The Portable Medieval Reader

Ian Stewart, Nature's Numbers

and my favorite Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Poem for the day: R. T. Smith

By way of The Writer's Almanac for September 1, 2009

In The Night Orchard
by R. T. Smith

I know, because Paul has told me
a hundred times, that the deer
gliding tonight through tangleweed
and trashwood, then bounding across
Mount Atlas Road, are after his pears.

And who could blame them?
On the threshold of autumn, the Asian
imports, more amazing than any Seckle
or indigenous apple, start to ripen.
Then a passing crow will peck one open.

That's when the whitetails who bed
and gather beyond Matson's pasture
will catch the scent and begin to stir.
It's a dry time, and they go slowly mad
for sweetness. No fence can stop them.

The farmers like Paul will admit
it starts in hunger, but how suddenly
need goes to frenzy and sheer plunder.
When the blush-gold windfalls are gone
and the low boughs are stripped

of anything resembling bounty, bucks
will rise on their hind legs and clamber
up the trunks. Last week Cecil Emore
found one strangled in a fork,
his twisted antlers tangled as if

some hunter had hung him there
to cure. We all remember what it's like,
this driven season, this delirium
for something not yet given a name,
but the world turns us practical, tames

us to yearn for milder pleasures.
For Augustine, it was actual pears
that brought him out of the shadows
and over a wall, for Eve, the secret
inside what we now say was an apple.

Others have given up safety for less,
and I wonder, catching an eight-point
buck outlined on the ridge amid spruce,
if it's this moonstruck nature that renders
the ruminants beautiful, or if we stalk

them out of envy, not for the grace
of their gliding, but for the unadorned
instinct that draws them after dark
into trespass and the need to ruin
the sweetest thing they've ever known.

"In The Night Orchard" by R. T. Smith, from Brightwood. (c) Louisiana State University Press, 2004. Reprinted on this blog without permission.

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