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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.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: Rights
There is a lot of chatter these days about rights. It gives one pause. Several weeks ago I heard a politician claim that it is time to win our country back. I was not aware that we had lost it. I wonder who stole it. If you ask a rabid conservative, the answer will most likely be those bleeding heart liberals.
Up On Hawthorn Hill: Looking for diversions
It has been a long, psychically trying winter. I always feel more comfortable knowing that I am not alone, so when friends complain openly about cabin fever and wanting “to get the hell out of here” for a while I know exactly what they mean. We are planning a trip to Costa Rica in March, so in order to keep one’s head above the darkening inner clouds, it is necessary to look for diversions that have, as Wordsworth put it, a renovating virtue. Luckily for me, Redpolls fit the bill.
Hawthorn Hill: Quietness
I want to make a case for quietness. Thoreau writes that he never found a companion as companionable as solitude. It is a sentiment that I share. As I sit here looking out over the snow-covered hills I am struck by the absence of movement. I am awed by a stillness unstirred by wind or activity of any kind. There is no noise, neither human nor animal. How nice that is.
Hawthorn Hill: The owl, the woodcock and the cuckoo
New Year’s day I headed out for my customary four-mile walk. The onset of a new year has never captivated my celebratory imagination. I agree with Thoreau that waking is a daily effort to throw off sleep and one of the ways I do that is by walking.
Up on Hawthorn Hill: Poetry and planting seed
There has always been a great deal of heated debate about the value of poetry. For me poetry has always provided a very useful service. It abstracts life in such a way that it is possible to stand back a few feet from immediate experience and see it anew through the unparalleled beauty of poetic language.
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