Friday

Sep. 25, 1998

Departures

by Linda Pastan

FRIDAY 9/25

Today's Reading: "Departures" by Linda Pastan from CARNIVAL EVENING, published by W.W. Norton & Co. (1998).

The 79th annual DURHAM FAIR starts up today and runs through the weekend, in Durham, Connecticut. The TEXAS STATE FAIR kicks off today in Dallas, and runs through October 18. And the NORTHERN PLAINS TRIBAL ARTS show begins in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with traditional and contemporary Native American art and music.

Composer DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH was born on this day in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1906. He's best known for his 15 symphonies; the seventh, in 1941, written at the height of WWII and subtitled Leningrad, had to be smuggled out of the USSR on microfilm.

It's painter MARK ROTHKO's birthday, born Marcus Rothkovitch, in the town of Dvinsk, Russia, 1903. The Rothko family emigrated to the U.S. when the boy was 10 years old, and settled in Portland, Oregon. Rothko was almost entirely self-taught as an artist. He started off doing pictures of people in city settings, then his paintings became more and more abstract. From the late 1940s on, they were usually made of simple, soft-edged rectangles set upon one another, the colors of the different rectangles playing off each other.

It's the birthday of WILLIAM FAULKNER, born in New Albany, Mississippi, a town in the northeastern corner of the state, 1897. When he was a boy, his family moved north a little ways to Ripley, Mississippi; then south, down to the Lafayette County seat of Oxford, where Faulkner spent most of the rest of his life. It became the setting for over a dozen books, fictionalized as Yoknapatawpha County. These were the stories about the Compson brothers in The Sound and the Fury; the Bundren family in As I Lay Dying, and Lena Grove in Light in August — all three books written in the space of a few years in the late '20s and early '30s. His books and short stories won him the Nobel Prize in 1950, and he also won two Pulitzers. When young people asked him for advice about writing he told them, "Read, read, read. Read everything, trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window." And when asked what he wanted on his own tombstone, he said, "He wrote the books, then he died."

It was on this day in 1890 that a 761,000-acre parcel of the Sierra Nevadas in central California was established as YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK. The word "yosemite" means "grizzly bear" in the language of the Yosemite Indians who lived there. The region was made a state park in 1864, then a national park in 1890. Approximately 3 million people visit Yosemite each year.

The Spanish explorer, BALBOA, DISCOVERED THE PACIFIC OCEAN on this day in 1513. He'd sailed from Antigua on September 1 and followed the coast of Panama until his Indian guides told him a great ocean lay only a short distance overland. On September 6, Balboa and his soldiers began marching. It took them two and a half weeks to make it to the other side of the 50-mile wide isthmus, but on September 25 he climbed a small mountain and was the first European to sight the Pacific. He named it Mar del Sur, or South Sea. A few days later he waded into the water and claimed the ocean for the king and queen of Castile. It got the name Pacific seven years later, from the explorer Magellan.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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