One Good Loop Deserves Another

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April 7, 2019-

A week or so ago, one of Arizona’s premier hiking columnists, Mare Czinar, wrote of a new trail, branching in elliptical fashion off the Prescott Circle Trail, which I have hiked and chronicled, in the past three years.

A group called “The Over-The-Hill Gang”, loosely named for a Western movie set of characters, has taken it upon themselves to build this, and other new trails, as well as maintain older trails in the area.  I value their efforts.

The West Loop Trail begins at a large, new parking area:  White Rock.  Prior to this, those who wanted to hike in the region west of Thumb Butte had to leave their cars parked just off the road, or into the brush.  White Rock is a decent compromise, between “no footprint” activists and those who object to cars clogging the side of the well-traveled recreational road.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The West Trail’s initial segment is .5 mile in length.  It features several granite and limestone boulder formations, so despite its brevity and flatness, this small sector is worthy of keeping one’s eyes open.  I reassured a tired little guy, doing the home stretch with his parents, that he was almost done.  It was nice to see that kept him going, instead of having Mom or Dad carry him.

The boulder fields are off-trail, thus making for a quick, easy start.

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As with any large number of rocks, the imagination can show a given boulder to have a human or animal likeness.  I see the boulder in the background as George Washington.

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Poking out from between two boulders is a charred tree limb, with the likeness of an angry snake.

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These sandstone boulders are laid out, almost looking like segments of a large worm.  It was about here, that I turned left, onto the Javelina Trail, a part of Prescott Circle.

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I took a brief rest at this spot, writing in my hiking journal, as to the ambiance of the place. I had the trail to myself, much of the time, with the preponderance of other users being bicyclists, whose presence is most always fleeting.  I step to the side for them, as downhill and flatland find cyclists going at a fast clip and uphill involves their huffing and puffing.

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Here, I see another giant watchman, in the center of this scene.

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This clump of boulders is another fine spot for sitting and meditating.

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“Little Italy” is a side trail, which I will investigate on another hike.

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This abandoned corral was part of a small ranch in the area, prior to the National Forest being established.  The rancher moved away, before the Forest took over.

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All that is left of his home is this chimney.  It seems to have been used as an outdoor oven.

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The reason for his choice of home is simple:  Here is the South Fork of Willow Creek.

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From the creek, the path becomes Firewater Trail.  A brief climb takes us past this stern eagle-like formation.

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Back on the flat trail, a dead alligator juniper resembles a welcoming totem pole.

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At the junction of Firewater Trail and the homestretch of West Trail, a clever OTHG member placed this trail marker.

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Surrounding peaks make their presence known, along the West Trail.  To the southeast, is Thumb Butte.

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To the north is majestic Granite Mountain.

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Working around a family who had come to this panoramic viewpoint for photos, I got this shot of the San Francisco Peaks.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After taking a photo of the three family members together, I headed down the last half mile.  Just before the parking lot, I came upon this little “critter”.

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My left knee and cardiopulmonary system thank me for this afternoon- and I extend that thanks to the Over-The-Hill-Gang and the U.S. Forest Service.  It’s good to feel like old times.

The 2018 Road, Day 34: The Door Never Closes

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June 28, 2018, Salisbury, NC-

I first encountered W, in 2002, when he arrived in Phoenix, from his native Liberia.  At that time, he was recovering from a severe injury and was one of thousands of refugees from his then-war torn homeland.  He had been a journalist, writing for Monrovia’s daily newspaper, when his injuries occurred.

Like more than a few Africans living in Phoenix, he became a trusted friend and we have maintained a correspondence, ever since.  He has left Arizona and is now comfortably settled in a simple home, in this pleasant city of the Piedmont.  Salisbury is about an hour northeast of Charlotte, and seems to not have, as yet, become saddled with major urban sprawl.

I woke to a calm morning, in Timmonsville, about two hours further southeast of here.  As I suspected, there is an unnamed breakfast and lunch counter, inside the Mobil Station.  I walked across the street and discovered The Hot Plate- more than the microwave stand I had suspected would be there.  Instead, an effusive man of about 35 and a shy girl, who seemed to be about 15, were behind a full-service breakfast & lunch counter.  The man took my order and both set to work, he on the sausage and the girl on the eggs and pancakes.  She brought a fabulous breakfast plate to my small table, in eight minutes’ time.  Several other people- mostly customers, plus two women who seemed to have some role in running the show, came in and out during my leisurely breakfast.   After paying my bill, and giving the bemused girl a healthy tip, I reflected that places like The Hot Plate are what keep small-town America connected with the open road.  I would go in there again, were I to find myself in Timmonsville-or, as this sign would have it, in

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I headed, in earnest, towards Salisbury, and arrived at W’s place in a couple of hours.  There, a comfortable bed for the night, and a steaming pot of Liberian pork stew, with heaping portions of rice, awaited.  African hospitality is second to none-even in the simplest of homes.

On the way there, I picked up a few more gift items, as a few families in the small town of Mc Bee, SC were holding a fund-raiser and the bake sale was too good to pass up.  Mc Bee is also notable for this:

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Salisbury has several solid Federal period and Beaux  Arts era architectural gems.  I stopped to note  a few of these, whilst driving towards W’s apartment.

Perhaps most prominent, from the east, is the Bell Tower of First Presbyterian Church.

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Driving westward, St. John’s Lutheran Church becomes equally impressive.

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In Salisbury’s Veteran’s Cemetery, this memorial to World War II dead is at the western gate to the grounds.

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This is the old Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, west of the cemetery.

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I found a most happy W, waiting outside his apartment complex.  It’s been a while since he had any visitors from out of town.

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Here is a view of the park, down the street from his complex.

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After my hearty lunch of stew and rice, W and I walked to a Walgreen’s where I could get a spare dental care kit, as mine was possibly lost. I also got a spare razor and blades, while W talked of his joyful walks along Salisbury’s main commercial street.  He keeps away from the Confederate Memorial that greets the traveler coming in from the East.  Otherwise, he has walked all over the town, making friends as he goes.

I found, however, that there was little evidence of racial tension here, as W’s  White cross street neighbours were quite cordial, and there was plenty of friendly interaction during my own downtown visit.

Rowan County Courthouse is an impressive Federal Era structure.  This block celebrates George Washington’s visit here, following the American Revolution.

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The same detail has kept the County Administration Building in good repair, for over 150 years.

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Away from downtown, the west and south sides feature several older gems.  Below, is Chambers House, from the Revolutionary Period.

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Here is another view of the Bell Tower, as it is near Chambers House.

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This tiny salt box house was the Henderson Law Office, built in 1796.

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I spent a few moments checking out a south side block, from whence there is another fine view of the Bell Tower.

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Here is a three-part look at the south side’s finest mural, entitled “Crossroads-Past Into Present”.  It shows Salisbury life, circa 1900 and was completed in 2001.  The artists are Cynvia Rankin, Earle Kluttz and Raines Thompson.  Ms. Rankin was the primary artist on this project, commissioned by  Rowan Art Guild.

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W and I spent a great deal of time just talking of life in Arizona, as compared to North Carolina.  The latter is certainly a less frenetic and cheaper place to live, by and large.  He also told me much about Liberia, and his journalistic experience during the country’s Civil War.  We watched a lengthy Baha’i video, as well.  Our conversation tended to be more far ranging than those we’ve had over the phone. W speaks at a fast clip, so line of sight works better for me, in understanding him.

It has been another relaxing day, though, knowing I am in a place of friendship.

NEXT:  Across the Great Smokies, to Crossville

 

The 2018 Road, Day 26: A Yorktown Meander, Part 2-The Grounds of Surrender

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June 20, 2018, Yorktown-  

Having seen the coastline along which the final major battle of the American War for Independence played out, I turned to the equally critical interior locales of the struggle.

Yorktown Battlefield is the end point of Colonial National Historic Park, just as Jamestown represents the beginning.

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There are several displays of interest inside the Visitor Center, including one of George Washington’s tents.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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From there, the auto route of the park leads to Yorktown National Cemetery and the Grand French Battery.  Whilst  I was here, a few boys were engaged in Hide and Seek, along the redoubts.

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The scene of the cemetery itself was more subdued.

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A bit north of the park, on the way to modern Yorktown, is Yorktown Victory Monument.

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Doubling back towards town, just a bit, I caught this glimpse of Main Street.

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I am always glad to see the intense forest growth in the Tidewater area.  Some groves are impressive, in their height.

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Redoubts 9 and 10 were scenes of brief battles, with the French capturing the first and the Americans, the second.  The British ceasefire occurred three days later.

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These American artillery pieces were placed between the two redoubts, making the task of capture much easier.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These sharpened stones bore no significance, but they captured my attention.

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Next on the route was Augustine Moore House, where the British surrender was negotiated, on October 18, 1781.

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The York River flows just east of Moore House.

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Here is the Surrender Field, where Cornwallis’ army laid down their arms.

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This is the Untouched Redoubt, abandoned by the British on September 29, 1781.  The Allied forces arrived the next day, and left the position as it was.

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With this loop tour, one gets a well-rounded view of the final major clash of our nation’s first struggle towards respect in the family of nations.  There would be much to be done, internally and externally, before we would reach a dominant position as an economic and military power.  I wonder what it will take, to reach similar prominence, spiritually.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 26: A Yorktown Meander, Part 1- Shore and Town

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June 20, 2018Yorktown, VA-

I had this flight of fancy, at one point this week, about “doing” the Hampton Roads area, in three days.  That is not how I’m wired, though, and it came as no surprise that Jamestown took the better part of a day and Yorktown, pretty much all of the following day.  After a lovely breakfast at Capitol Pancake House, I took my leave of Williamsburg, and headed to the place where the British Army found itself outmaneuvered by a Colonial force that was trained by the Prussian General von Steuben and bolstered by the French, under Marquis de Lafayette. Yorktown has a wealth of both coastal and woodland sites that figured in the deciding battle of the American War for Independence.

I spent about an hour taking in the coastal section of Yorktown, with plenty of company at the beach and in the shops.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Coleman Bridge spans the York River, going to Gloucester Point, which was one of General Cornwallis’ “fall back” camps.

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Yorktown has two small gardens, near the riverside.

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This garden honours the sacrifices made by African-Americans in colonial Yorktown.

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General Cornwallis had his troops hide in this cave, as the joint American and French forces advanced on Yorktown, by land and by sea.

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This statue depicts the surrender of General Cornwallis to General Washington.

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I headed a bit west, to the Poor Potter, site of the factory operated by William Rogers, an expert artisan, who operated colonial Virginia’s largest pottery operation, between 1720 and his death, in 1739.

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Here is a view of the actual factory. One may see shards of pottery, through the windows to the right.

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Yorktown is very much a modern city, and York County Courthouse had plenty of visitors this morning.

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I headed over to the Battlefield and its mementos of the American, British and French contributions to Yorktown’s prominence.  In Part 2, the focus will be on the auto tour of these far flung sites.

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LX: Freedom, Borne of Fire

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July 17-18, 2017, Philadelphia-

After treating my mother to breakfast, at Saugus’ downtown cafe, Hammersmith Inn, I bid farewell to the town of my childhood, and headed towards Pennsylvania, and more family bonding.  My middle brother spent a good many of his working years in Pennsyvania, lastly in the Main Line precincts of Chester Springs.  Two of his children still live in the Philadelphia area.  He and my sister-in-law were here visiting, so this was a natural stop, for a day or so.

I took my now customary route, south and west, stopping first at Newtown, CT, where I have been intending to visit the small reflection area, where Sandy Hook Elementary stood, at the time of the massacre of 2012.  I was, of course, unable to do that last year, with my car trouble.  No such issue rose this year, so I stopped, prayed and reflected, with the new Sandy Hook Elementary School behind me, and many people carrying on the business of summer school.

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Freedom allows people to make some odd choices, as those who threatened the lives of the victims’ families did, in the wake of the tragedy.  Thankfully, no harm has come to any parents or siblings of those slain.

I drove down I- 84 & 81, at one point having to detour through Middletown, NY, ironically the place where I first took the dying Nissan, last summer. Again, there were no issues with my trusty Hyundai. I continued to a place which has come to feel much like home, these past six years:  Glick’s Greenhouse, Oley.  After a lovely welcoming dinner and some quiet time, I was honoured by this sunset:

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The next morning, with a breakfast to match the dinner, I bid farewell to my Oley family. For those who remember Cider, the Glick’s old collie, Manny- his successor, is getting the hang of greenhouse life.

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I headed south and east, into the Main Line area, and connected with my Georgia siblings, at their hotel, then went to a deli-style restaurant, in the town of  Wayne.  Nudy’s Cafe is a thoroughly tasteful establishment, with wonderful food and attentive, well-dressed servers.

After this repast, Dave and I headed to the Museum of the American Revolution, in downtown Philadelphia, experiencing relatively mild traffic, en route.  The first sight greeting the visitor, in the area of 2nd St and Chestnut, is a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder:  William Penn.

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The Museum of the American Revolution, itself, is less than a block from this little square.  It is just south of the domed building in the foreground.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The entrance posits the challenge that may well have been a battle cry, in the years just prior to the outright rebellion.

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I stood in front of the copper engraving depicting the First Continental Congress.

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The Declaration of Independence is adjacent to the museum entrance, as well.

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Inside, the Museum offers a complete, and well-balanced depiction of the experiences of both sides, in the conflict, and of those trapped in the middle- the merchants and the Quaker pacifists.  Most of the exhibits did not lend themselves to photography, being in dimmer light, with no flash photography allowed.  I did get a few shots, first being the Philadelphia Liberty Tree.

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The Patriots were not, at least initially, a unified force.  Disagreements between townsmen of the Northeast and woodsmen from the Appalachians and the Ohio Valley had to be mediated, with George Washington reportedly directly intervening, at least once.  The boy on the lower left recalled this, in his memoirs, later in life.

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The more iconic scene, of Washington crossing the Delaware River, is also given prominence.

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The plight of African-American slaves, who were not uncommon in the northern colonies, any more than in the South, in the late 18th Century, is symbolized by this portrait and commentary by Mumbet, a Massachusetts woman, who won her freedom in court, after her master assaulted her, for having listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.  This case resulted in the prohibition of slavery in Massachusetts.  Mumbet became Elizabeth Freeman, and lived out her days in Stockbridge, a town in the central Berkshire Hills.

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The American experiment is far from perfect, but has resulted in the most diverse democracy on Earth, and still has so much to share, with those who want to study our nation’s experience.  We will keep on going, experimenting, refining and retooling, hopefully so that the three generations shown below, and their fellows, will never again know oppression.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

NEXT:  Brandywine, and More of Downtown Philadelphia.

 

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVI: Spirits and Graffiti

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March 14, 2017, Superior-  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some call the place Devil’s Canyon.  Others prefer Spirit Canyon.  Folks like me look at it, and Queen Creek Gorge, it is.  There seem to be at least three canyons, branching off.  The one I checked out, from the highway rim, is between Superior and the Oak Flat turnoff.  It includes the high bridge over Queen Creek and a maze of rhyolite spires, reminding me of southeast Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge.

Bored local youths have, over the years, added their signatures, hopes and dreams to the pillars.  Most are mildly irritating, to those who seek solace, on the canyon’s edge.  One, though, is a statement that most of us can appreciate.

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For the greater part, though, Queen Creek Gorge is a major delight, for hikers and rock climbers, alike.  It accounts for a good number of the campers who flock to Oak Flat.  On my next visit to Superior, I want to spend a key part of the time checking out the creek bed itself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES It also looks as if there is a ridge that could accommodate the hiker.

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I always imagine the various face-like features of the sandstone spires, as if they were gargoyles.

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Afternoon shadows mask what the stand-alone spire might resemble.

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These three appear rather comical, yet ever watchful.

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This one, I call Joe Palooka, because he probably isn’t into any funny business.

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The scene on the north side of Highway 60 is every bit as amazing.  I saw an offbeat George Washington, in the figure to the right.

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After about ten minutes of contemplation, it was time to bid adieu to the many spirits who seem to be inhabiting this compact, but extraordinary, canyon system.

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Next up-  Boyce Thompson Arboretum:  The Regional Exhibits

 

Aloneness at the Top

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August 23, 2016, Prescott- It’s time to take a break from the day-to-day, and think about our leaders, or those who purport to be such.  In a conversation this afternoon, the three of us noted that the school principal has an intense burden, not going out among the staff as often as people seem to want.  When she has shown up, her demeanor is pleasant enough, though the message I get is “Don’t make my work any harder, please.”

I remember having the sense, particularly in my first principalship, of being very much without friends.  My wife was forty miles away, at another school and son was only 10, and trying to juggle going back and forth between two schools, so as not to miss either of us too much.  The staff at my school was cordial, but after work, I went home to the dreariness of DirecTV and a diet of VH1.  The community, egged on by a local racist, was rather on the hostile side.

I reflected on these notions this afternoon, whilst listening to the author of a new book on Donald Trump.  He views his subject as pretty much a loner- a gladhander, yes, but one who tends to prefer his own company- outside of the work day.  Hillary Clinton seems equally a duck out of water, when in the company of strangers, after a certain amount of time.  Barack Obama is engrossed in his family unit, and the company of a small circle of friends.  Indeed, we have to go back to Bill Clinton to see a leader who relishes the crowd, and before him, all the way to John F. Kennedy.

I feel for our leaders, whether local or national.  The late Shah of Iran once remarked, in an interview with the journalist Oriana Fallaci, that, were he to have it all to do over again, he would want to be anything other than a king.  The crush upon a mere mortal has to be both deafening and suffocating.  Most people appreciate, and expect, a leader who will put him/herself aside, as it were, and rush to the side of the suffering.  Many, from George Washington on, wished to do just that- until, in modern times, the combination of security concerns, open calls for harm to be done to said leader, and the seeming ingratitude of some local communities, have led to a pullback by the Comforter-in-Chief, as we have seen in the second Obama term.

Could it be that we, the people, need to reassess our attitudes towards those whom we elect to manage our civic affairs?

 

Portrait of the Poet

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February 1, 2016, Prescott-

The Winter Scavenger Hunt prompt says “artist”, not “poet”, but a poet IS an artist.

Today begins the month “officially” set aside as Black History Month.  African-Americans certainly are not limited to any given point along a year, in terms of their impact on our nation’s history.  Yet, why quibble?  We do well to reach as far back as possible, in comprehending the spirit and drive that gives each individual, regardless of ethnicity or melanin level, the capacity for great achievement.

The first published African-American poet, Phillis Wheatley, was brought to Boston at the age of 8, from either Gambia or Senegal.  She was given the name Phillis by her captor, Peter Gwinn, and sold as a slave to a tailor named John Wheatley.  The Wheatley family taught Phillis to read and write, encouraging her to study the Classics.

Phillis began to write her own poetry at the age of 14.  She drew the favourable attention of both British and American leaders of both politics and thought, having audiences with the Lord Mayor of London and George Washington.  Thomas Paine published her work in the Pennsylvania Gazette, and she drew favourable commentary from Voltaire.

Things went sour for Phillis, after her master died.  Though she was freed, under the terms of his will, and married a Free African-American grocer, John Peters, the prevailing view of society was not favourable towards African-Americans.  The Peters’ struggled financially, John was imprisoned, in 1784 and Phillis, along with their infant son, died shortly thereafter, she being only 31.

Here is a sample of her poetry, which drew on both Christian and animist influences, as well as ancient Greek and European Enlightenment thought.

“On Virtue”

O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
Thine height t’ explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
Would now embrace thee, hovers o’er thine head.
Fain would the heav’n-born soul with her converse,
Then seek, then court her for her promis’d bliss.

Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro’ my youthful years!
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
To give me an higher appellation still,
Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
O thou, enthron’d with Cherubs in the realms of day.[9]

Phillis had conflicting feelings about slavery, recognizing, on one level that it was the cruelest of institutions, while simultaneously expressing the view that captivity had served her well, by bringing her to Christianity.

In any event, I see Phillis Wheatley as the first great African-American woman, in public life.