Nov. 14, 2000

Highway Suite

by Emily Warn

Broadcast date: TUESDAY, 14 November 2000

Poem: “Highway Suite,” by Emily Warn, from The Novice Insomniac (Copper Canyon Press).

Leaving again,
my car drones up the pass,
drifts in and out of fog
before climbing steeply up
toward treeline.

Each time I travel through
the pass, a change occurs,
as the rain-fed,
lush green blossoming
of moss and mold gives way
to white slopes of snow.

It is like the moment
after I say goodbye.
We become ourselves
for a slow moment
I want to lengthen
between us.

It’s the birthday of Scottish poet Norman Alexander MacCaig, born in Edinburgh (1910). He’s the author of many collections of verse, including Riding Lights (1955), Old Maps and New (1978) and The Equal Skies (1980).

It’s the birthday of journalist Harrison Salisbury, born in Minneapolis (1908). In 1949 he joined The New York Times and served as its Moscow bureau chief until 1954. He retired in 1973, a few years after he started the Times’ Op-Ed page. In the last 20 years of his life he wrote over a dozen books, including a history the 1934 Long March of the Red Chinese Army. For that book, he and his wife retraced the entire route—7,400 miles—by jeep, mule, and foot; he was 75 at the time. Among his best known titles are The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad (1969), Behind the Lines—Hanoi (1967), China: 100 Years of Revolution (1983).

It’s the birthday of children’s writer Astrid Lindgren, born on a farm outside the small town of Vimmerby, Sweden (1907). She wrote Pippi Longstocking in 1945, as a present for her daughter's tenth birthday.  This was the first of three books with Pippi as its main character—a strangely dressed girl, who lived alone in her little house called the Villa Villekulla, with her horse and monkey.

It’s the birthday of historian Frederick Jackson Turner, born in Portage, Wisconsin (1861). While a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, he rejected the prevailing view that American institutions had been shaped mainly by European ones.  During the 14 years he taught at Harvard (1910-24), he developed his view that the frontier had been the key to the development of the United States: that American society owed its character to three centuries of westward expansion.

On this day in 1851, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, was published in New York by Harper & Brothers.  The story was based on a whale named Mocha Dick, who reportedly had wrecked 7 ships and 20 boats and killed at least 30 men.  A failure during Melville’s lifetime, the novel later came to be judged as one of the world’s greatest books.

It’s the birthday of painter Claude Monet.  He was born in Paris, but spent his youth in Le Havre, where his father was a grocer. He was among the first artists to paint outdoors: he used to go to the Fontainebleau Forest to work. At an 1874 showing of the work of Monet and his friends, a critic derisively labeled them ‘Impressionists,’ after the title of Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” painting, saying it reminded him of wallpaper.  The last third of Monet’s life was spent at Giverny, northwest of Paris, where he built a beautiful water garden, the subject of many of his paintings.

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




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