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In These Otsego Hills

February 21, 2013

There's a lot we can learn from the doves

We live in a noisy, unreflective world. Our contemporary discourse is characterized by the conspicuous absence of quality.

The allure of quality was first brought home to me years ago when I first read Robert Pirsig’s book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I think of it often, especially within the context of the acrimony and meanness that define public discussion and discourse these days.

There is one point in John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty” that bears mention here. Open, thoughtful, and respectful discussions are crucial to the health of any democratic society. I reread Mill this week seeking some help in resolving in my own mind the tension that exists over the fundamental question of the rights of the individual versus those of society. That is the subject of a forthcoming essay. A democracy infected by uncivil public discourse suffers from a self-inflicted disease which might very be its undoing. I do not think we are there yet. But we do seem hell-bent on playing the brinksmanship game.

Which takes me to sitting doves. The other morning while on the way to the kitchen to fill up the tea kettle, one of many procrastination strategies I use, I noticed eight mourning doves nestled comfortably in the snow at the foot of a maple tree. They sat there within inches of one another absolutely motionless. I must have watched for five minutes, perhaps longer. I was mesmerized by their total devotion to stillness. As one who craves stillness and quiet and the solace it provides, I felt a palpable kinship with these lovely puff balls so at ease with themselves and one another. As one who has always been uncomfortable in crowds and when in close quarters with others, I thought of how wonderful it would be to be able to spend time with others of my species talking less, thinking more, and experiencing together the deeply profound spirituality that silence allows. I am not about to enter a monastery where speech is prohibited. What I do dream of is a world where speech, when it occurs, especially in the public arena, is both civil and tempered by an ethics of conduct based on mutual respect and a toleration of difference.

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In These Otsego Hills
  • The cruelest month of all It has long been said that April is the cruelest month of all. However, given our recent winter, the cruelest month designation might well be open for debate this year.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sharing conspiracy theories on Main Having traversed the village a number of times now, we have come to the conclusion that there is very little reason to mention the current crop of potholes. It seems they are quite able to speak for themselves. In fact, they seem to do so loud and clear.

    April 10, 2014

  • Recovering with family and friends We must say we were somewhat overwhelmed by the telephone calls and emails that we received regarding last week's column. From what we were told it greatly brightened the day for a number of people. In fact, several of our callers told us they were going to cut it out and send it to friends around the country. And just as the column brightened the day for a number of our readers, their responses absolutely made our day. In fact, we are tempted to think it made not only our day, but our week, our month and perhaps even our year.

    April 3, 2014

  • Back to the present Much as we have enjoyed our recent trip through the archives of 1984, we fear we must return to 2014. If nothing else, we were reminded during our journey that the column today is not the column of 1984. But then, we suspect the greater Cooperstown community today is not the community of 1984. And while it is nice to reminisce about yesteryear, it is also important to recognize where we are today. And when we do that, we tend to focus on the one thing that has always made this column seem to work, namely the input of our readers.

    March 27, 2014

  • '84 carnival didn't go as planned This week we begin with one more of our favorite column items from 1984 concerning Winter Carnival which didn't go exactly as planned. We wrote:

    March 20, 2014

  • DAR column sends us down memory lane Of all the scripts we found in our cleaning of the basement, the one that intrigued us the most is one that we had completely forgotten we had written. It was done for a program we presented quite a while ago at a meeting of the Cooperstown DAR. As we recall, Lona Smith had asked us to talk about our experiences with writing this column. And since that could be a rather lengthy presentation, we decided to limit ourselves to talking about our first year of writing the column.

    March 13, 2014

  • Remembering a CCS vote that failed| We note that the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women's Club of Cooperstown, will be held on Thursday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the Village of Cooperstown Library. Jane Anne Russell will lead a discussion on the book "North to the Orient" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The meeting is open to the public.

    March 6, 2014

  • Cookies make a better valentine than MRI We had originally thought that our entire Valentine's Day celebration would be a trip to Bassett healthcare to get a MRI of our lower back. Thus we were most pleasantly surprised when a friend dropped in on us with a bag of heart shaped, frosted sugar cookies for us.

    February 27, 2014

  • Swing and a miss on PumpkinFest We must admit that we are probably not as caught up in sports as some people are.

    February 20, 2014

  • Keeping busy as winter creeps From all that we hear, any number of people are sick of the winter weather. And, given what it has been, it is not difficult to understand why, especially if one is not particularly taken by winter weather in the first place. However, we do suspect that, unlike some years, the weather worked out well for Cooperstown's annual Winter Carnival. We must admit that we have not participated in the Winter Carnival for a number of years for the simple fact that it is held in the winter. And we are simply not devotees of the winter. But, should the decision ever be made, which we find highly unlikely, to hold the Winter Carnival in the spring or the fall, we might be more inclined to participate

    February 13, 2014