Saturday, July 31, 2010

Twain Along the Mohawk

On a hundred degree day in northeast New Jersey, in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, during the interval between tomboy and teenager, I took refuge in the cool, earthy dampness under the hedge in our front yard. There, I opened my book and rejoined my two companions Huck and Jim who were waiting for me, hiding in the tall grass of my imagination. It was the summer of Mark Twain, and two of his works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When the school year began, the books were returned to their space on the shelves that lined the staircase. Occasionally over the years, I would touch each in passing, knowing that Huck and Tom, Jim and the Mississippi were still there, unchanged and unspoiled, should I want to go back and visit them.

Now as promised in an earlier column, our special event for the summer is called Twain Along the Mohawk. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death. Something you might not have known is that Twain visited Fort Plain in 1868 during a lecture tour promotingInnocents Abroad. The August 14th program to be held in Haslett Park will start off at 4:30 with a short presentation about life in Fort Plain during that time period by Sandy Cronkhite, followed by a reenactment of Twain's 1868 speech The American Vandal Abroad, and a free community picnic sponsored by the library in cooperation with Manna House, after which Gary Van Slyke will present a concert featuring period song. So bring your blanket or lawn chair and spend an enjoyable evening in 1868. In the event of rain, all activities will take place at the Reformed Church.

Lest the Mississippi fade with summer, the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library in St. Johnsville will hold a discussion on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on October 9th at 10:00 am. Barbara Unger will be the guest facilitator. For more information, call Dawn Lamphere at 568-7822.

I am told that in some places cars are locked during this weather, for fear someone might leave zucchinis in the back seat. This vegetable has been a staple for thousands of years. It's a low calorie food with excellent levels of vitamins and minerals. In can be used in any of a hundred ways, and if you don't believe this, come in and peruse a cookbook. Speaking of cookbooks, anyone who brings in a zucchini recipe during the month of August will be treated to a free cookbook of his or her choice from our used cookbook stash.

We will travel halfway around the world for another program in August. On Wednesday, August 25th, at 6:00 pm, we will explore the technique of Kanzashi, a centuries old folded flower technique used to create Japanese hair ornaments. Utilizing Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilleland, we will create a flower and view the various applications available to us today. For more information on any of our offerings, please call the library at (518) 993-4646 or visit the library blog at
Submitted by Board of Trustee member Sally Taylor

Thursday, July 29, 2010

There’s No Place Like Home

I recently traveled to South Carolina, home of some of my descendants. I took along the novel A Thousand Country Roads by Robert James Waller. In this poignant epilogue to The Bridges of Madison County, Robert Kincaid takes to the road for a last trip, searching for something to give meaning to the rest of his life. On my return trip, during a marathon layover in Washington /Dulles Airport, I finished the book and still had time to ponder the following thoughts: Is an unfinished work more memorable or satisfying than one that comes full circle?
Don't we spend most of our life seeking those things that give meaning to the rest of our life, and what part does an early and continued exposure to books play in this?
And would Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep consider doing the sequel?
Finally airborne, we approached the vicinity of New York City at 30,000 feet. As always, I recalled a trip home several years ago, before our lives changed, when our pilot descended so low and banked so steeply around the top of the Empire State Building that I might have seen King Kong, had he not fallen off the building innumerable times during a marathon weekend of The Million Dollar Movie a half century ago, a weekend after which the top of the Empire State Building visible from my bedroom window took on a new meaning. But I digress.
We then headed north up the ribbon of the Hudson River as night encroached, a view I have never forgotten. This evening, too far removed from the land, I again drew on the thoughts of that distant evening. I thought about the many people who traveled west through New York State, via wagon, canal, or train on route to a new life. It is the stuff books are made of.
Upcoming events at the library include:
July 22 Annual Fort Plain Free Library Ice Cream Social during the County Line Rebels concert in the park beginning at 7:00
July 19, 26, Mondays with Monet. Summer Art Camp for children in
August 2, 9 grades 2 – 4 with Joanne Resch
July 27, 28, A Day in the Life….Summer Art Camp for children in
29 grades 4 – 6 with Joanne Resch
July 28 Science in the Summer. Science fair led by GE volunteers for grade school children and their families, 10:00 – 11:30
August 3 Canal sailing schooner Lois McClure docked at Lock 15 and available for public boarding, 11:00am – 7:00pm
August 11 Basics of Checking/Credit Cards 101 with Jenny Stasack from SEFCU, 1:00 – 2:30 at the library. Please register by Monday, August 9th, by calling the library at (518) 993-4646
August 14 Mark Twain will be dropping by Fort Plain. That's all I'm going to say about that now, but stay tuned….
For information about any of these summer offerings, drop by the library or call (518) 993-4646 during regular library hours.
Submitted by Board of Trustees member Sally-Jean Taylor