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Up On Hawthorn Hill: Spring inventions
The second line of Lawrence Durrell’s novel “Justine” reads as follows: “In the midst of winter you can feel the inventions of Spring.” I first read all four novels of his magnificent Alexandria Quartet during the year I traveled from Saigon to Paris after working in Vietnam for a refugee organization for several years.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: The past in the present
Clichés abound about the value of photographs. Most are probably true at least to a certain extent. What I do know about an image is that it represents something of the past that is not the pastitself. But that is the power of any image. It represents something that once was. The beauty of an image, revisited, is that it functions as a catalystfor reliving in the present a past experience. My own view, one that I thank the Spanish writer Jorge Luis Borges for, is that all we ever can experience is the present.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: Quiet wisdom
Reading is akin to a treasure hunt. There are surprises around every corner. Part of the fun, especially when reading fiction, is anticipating what might be next. Sometimes one guesses right and sometimes one is way off. But that is all right.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: Bird Feeder?
Bird feeder is a relative term. At least that is the case around here. A few mornings ago we spotted the first rabbit to visit the feeders. Normally, all we see during the winter are rabbit tracks crisscrossing the gardens.
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Making sense of things
A book I have been reading investigates the various ways over time that we have made sense of the world. It carries the reader through to the present via several seminal classical texts and ultimately aims to suggest a strategy for “ finding meaning in a secular age.”
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Of birds and faith
I watch birds quite a bit. Every five days or so I send in a report to Cornell as partof its annual Project Feeder Watch program. The data, collected from volunteers from all over the country, enables scientists to track population trends. I would spend quite a bit of time checking out the visitors to our feeders anyway. Participating in the feeder program makes a personal pleasure that much more meaningful. It is rare that aesthetical and scientific endeavors work in tandem.
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Circularity
When she was a puppy my dog Gabby would run in what I described then as “circles of joy.” She celebrated her15th birthday a few weeks ago and despite the inevitable frailties that old age imposes upon all of us, she is doing pretty well.
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Irony abounds
These are querulous times. Dissent and disagreement, as uncomfortable as they sometimes are, are essential components of a viable democracy. Democracies are always messy because everyone has a right to speak his mind and because whenever a majority is able to gain the numerical upper hand it pretty much runs the show. Several political philosophers have written quite persuasively of what they characterize as the “tyranny of the majority.” Get enough people on your side and you have the opportunity to get your way so long as you are able to maintain power. I suspect that most thoughtful people would agree that wisdom is hard to come by.
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Of kinglets and mortality
This is that transitional time of year when fall begins to take its final bow and winter starts to seep into our lives not always with a great deal of subtlety. It is also a time when body seems quite willing to step aside and let mind have dominant sway for a while.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: Wisdom
I do not know about anyone else, but I tired of selfcongratulatory political talk a long time ago. Fact is, I have never liked it much. One candidate interviewed yesterday had nothing at all good to say about the present administration. In the process of lambasting its record on just about every front, this individual never once offered any specifics as to how he would go about creating jobs, ending Medicare fraud, or terminating these idiotic wars that we seem intent on embroiling ourselves in.
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