We’ve had plenty of rain in Upstate New York this summer, so the countryside is lush and green.

A steady stream of storms hanging over our heads.  A summer flooded with talk of swollen swamps, mushrooms and clouds.

And now, talk of mushroom clouds.

The sound of running water fills the damp woods, and I’ve been taking photos of pretty rivulets, graced with ferns and arching tree limbs.

But yesterday, while listening to the news about Korea, I saw this shot, of black shale in an unnamed stream, and it suited my mood.

A geology website informs us that this little waterfall runs through a “dissected plateau” – – layers of shale, sandstone, and limestone.

“Dissect” always has an unpleasant connotation to me, of high school biology class.

Personally, I like my frogs live and hopping.

The rocks are dull-colored and lifeless-looking, but if you pry open some of the layers, they’re teaming with fossils.

The ancient creatures embedded in the rock, probably thought things were going ok, and went about their business, but in some layers, the density of their remains, speaks of mass die-offs.

These were lower lifeforms, I guess they never saw it coming.

Sounding a bit downbeat!  So what to do?

I suggest…go take a walk.  Enjoy the green woods and the sound of waterfalls.

One of my favorite presidents, Harry Truman, used to walk two miles every day.

Following his walk, he then had one shot of bourbon.

If you feel an affection or need for clubs, ok, do your walking on a golf course.

Harry did not play golf.  He just took a brisk little hike, and shook hands with people he met.

He used an old-fashioned word to describe his walk:  his morning “constitutional”.

These are clearly winning concepts:  Take a walk.  Take a drink.  Shake hands.  Constitutional.

I don’t think there’s too many people, after more than sixty years, who care deeply about MacArthur’s dismissal.  If you’re not a student of history, MacArthur was our top general, when we were fighting in Korea.  Truman decided he’d gotten too big for his britches, and we couldn’t have a military leader who was arrogant, contemptuous, disrespectful and reckless.   Korea was a bad place to be reckless.

And Harry sent him walking.








hiking, Not humorous, politics, Uncategorized, United States

Sometimes it’s a waterfall, and sometimes, it’s just things going downhill


12 thoughts on “Sometimes it’s a waterfall, and sometimes, it’s just things going downhill

  1. When we visited the Truman House and the Truman Library last October, I was impressed about what I learned aboiut the character and personality of that man, especially how humble he was all his life.
    I still remember one of his quotations.
    “Readers of good books, particularly books of biography and history, are preparing themselves for leadership. Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders must be readers.”
    I think you’ll know who comes to my mind who is sorely lacking in that aspect?
    Have a great weekend, and enjoy the peace of nature to get your spirits up again,

  2. First, because I’ve been meaning to drop this link here forever, is a nice piece about typefaces that I think you’ll enjoy.

    I grew up with many, many discussions about Truman at the dinnertable. Because some of the family lived in Kansas City, and had strong opinions about the Pendergast machine, it could get a little heated. But they were generally supportive of his presidency, and as I grew older and began reading more about him, I understood why.

    As for Truman and MacArthur, Truman could send the General packing. What we’re to do with our current arrogant, contemptuous, disrespectful and reckless fool, I’m not certain. We’ll see if a Constitutional will help. If not, there’s always that stiff drink.

    Of course, since you wrote this, things have become even more complicated and nasty. Skimming through various swamps, like the Twitter feeds, I’ve been almost amused by the lack of historical context people bring to their rants. The Klan didn’t begin in the 1960s. It was alive and active in Iowa in the 1920s, and had as much to do with religion and immigration as race. I have a living aunt who remembers those days, and my own grandmother had occasion to deal with the white-sheeted ones. If I can gather my thoughts, I might write about it.

    I love that you reminded me of Truman. I may dig out my copy of his bio and have another read, just for the refreshment of it all.

    • Thank you, Linda, I always enjoy very much hearing what you’re thinking about. My grandparents all mentioned Truman’s start with Pendergast, and of course, living in NY and Pennsylvania, they knew a bit about Tammany, Dan O’Connell’s Albany machine, etc. and patronage. But they all came around to the idea that Harry Truman proved himself tob an honest and good guy, and one who showed his mettle during very tough times,
      And thanks also for the typeface link! I’d never heard of Dwiggins before. He seems like a very neat guy, and his satirical graph is still very funny, and years ahead of his time.
      Typefaces and calligraphy — more stuff that I know nothing about, and they seem really interesting. Not to get too artsy & psycho-analytical, but I love not just the art of it, but also the way they can affect the mood of the reader.

      • When I first started blogging, Poetica was all the rage. Now, I know of three or four people who still are using it from time to time, and when I find that font on the page, I just click out. It’s too much trouble to decipher it.

        • We have old family Bibles around, in heavy Gothic font, that are pretty impossible to read. I wonder if printers kept using a medieval-looking, difficult script, just because it was considered traditional, and people expected it for Bibles.

  3. Great story Robert. I can imagine Harry saying to MacArthur “Hey Douglas, come on a constitutional with me!” And at the end of it, “OK Douglas, I’m returning to the White House, but you … KEEP WALKING!”

    • The British seem to use a lot more synonyms for “small stream,” like rill, runlet, etc. There’s just a lot of tiny, but well-defined little streams of water this wet summer. I learned “vernal pool” and “ephemeral stream” but it seems like we could use a few more terms.
      Maybe it’s time for another “I Love NY” ad campaign, Upstate continues to struggle to hold onto jobs and population, and people outside the state don’t seem to know there’s a lot of beautiful areas. The Finger Lakes and wineries seem to be drawing more and more tourists, but most of the Southern Tier, where I shot that waterfall, is still pretty poor and overlooked.

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