ROOM OF HER OWN

 

April 15, 2019 (in advance)

‘HER ROOM’/gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III

(also on Facebook)

     There can never be full existence for any of us if we do not have our space. It is even truer if you are a woman — every woman must have a room of her own.

     Virginia Woolf, in an extended 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” argued that women writers require space (and money) in a field dominated by men. But her argument was metaphorical as well.

     Women, who bear more than children, lifelong carry the world’s rhythms, progress, hopes, defeats and emotional nourishment. They constantly do and do, and do — for others. 

     When do women escape to go beyond their given, assumed, taken roles? When do they just be “me”?

      Women must have a room of their own.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

     

BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

‘VERSO,’ gunther

April 8, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     Perhaps this column should have been written for April Fool’s Day because the accompanying painting seems a joke. But it is not.

     The piece, titled “Verso,” Latin for reverse of a painting or document, looks like the other side of a framed painting. Yet it is really the painting itself, unframed, acrylic on a 24-inch-square wood panel.

     The idea was to be different, to spotlight what is hidden, even neglected, to show the strength, the character, the meaning, the substance of what we usually do not see.

     Everything — everyone — has value. Just have to look beyond the obvious. 

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

HOOKED ON ‘THE HOOK’

GUNTHER/photo

 

April 1, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     There is a literal “hook” to the Hudson River shore just 25 miles north of New York City. It is Hook Mountain, its high cliffs dwarfing the mighty waterway. Subject of countless photographs, drawings and paintings, it was saved from disfiguring as a quarry about 1900 by the Rockefeller family and is now part of the state park system.

     Hendrick Hudson saw the Hook on his river journey; Native Americans fished the river and set caves in the sandstone long before that. 

     The trail below is a magical tour for the spirit and soul, every step taking you away from all that bustles, keeping you safe in the arms of such a high place that you feel utterly protected.

     That the Hook was rescued is a tribute to the rich who would go beyond profit to make a mark. That the cliffs and the river path below dispense their salve daily is a blessing.

The writer is a retired newspaperman. angunther@yahoo.com

    

ON THE PORCH

GRAND VIEW ON HUDSON/gunther

March 25, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     Porches are the soul’s resting spot. They are also the teaching sit-a-spell for one generation to the next. Whether it’s a traditional American small-town front porch, a Southern veranda or an urban stoop, there is emotional gold in tarrying there.

     The newborn child is rocked on such porches. The old while away the sunset in their memories. Young, budding love greets each other.  A kindergartener leaves for the first day of school from that porch, and, suddenly, he/she is going to college.

     A grandmother imparts wisdom and encouragement to her family; neighbors stop to talk; someone in need is given care. 

The porch is a thresh hold to the minutes, the hours, days and years of life.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

     

 

A DAY FOR TEA

 

‘IRISH TEA’/gunther

March 17, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     (For St. Patrick’s Day) 

     There cannot be the Irish without tea. When the person holds a cup, it is the soul that comes to visit, both to nourish and to be nourished. Every sadness, every joy, every birth, every passing, every harvest, every leaving home of a once child, all that is before you, in reflection, in that cup of tea.

     My own mother, of pure Irish out of Donegal and an English father from Hartlepool, never had a morning or an afternoon or an evening without her strong tea. During the world war, she gave up rationed sugar and saved on milk by using a canned condensed mix. But the tea she would not be without.

     There are moments when you have tea. If you stir quickly, you might be nervous. If you sip with two hands on the cup, you may be enjoying your company. If you are a woman in love, you may leave a bit more lipstick on the edge.

     Tea is that friend who never leaves, never ages, never talks back. It is the wisdom, the lessons, the sacrifices of generations there, in that cup. And the future, too.

     

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

SWEET SMELL OF LIVING

‘CUPBOARD’/gunther

March 11, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     A very long time ago, a young fellow staying overnight at his grandma’s house would get up before his brother so he could put one of those small, individualized cereal boxes on the kitchen table. There might be just one package of raisin bran, and he wanted it.

     Every memory of that brings me back to 14 Ternure Ave., Spring Valley, N.Y., and age 5. The home itself, a charming federal/mixed style built in the early 1900s by the Haera family, was inviting for its comfort, and my grandmother made it even more so with her homemade treats.

     She kept ingredients, especially spices, in a tallish cabinet at the top of the cellar stairs, where the small cereal boxes were also tucked in. You could not open the cabinet without a whiff of cinnamon, all spice, etc. Just getting near the top of the stairs was enough to make your insides warm in anticipation of something tasty.

      Actually, in hope of something more: assurance that life could be safe and secure, with accomplished living ahead. Grandma made it so.

     Recalling that cabinet today — its fragrance — renews that assurance.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

 

NOT YET, ANYWAY

March 4, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     On the South Mountain, in Pomona, N.Y., named for the goddess of fruit, there came in 1711 Nicholas Concklin, a descendant of an English family arriving in 1637. Nicholas bought 400 acres and began the orchards that continue today. Looking toward the rise from South Mountain Road, you can feel the magical pull on your soul. The view is magnetic over the apple trees and old family barn. It makes you linger though the speeding vehicles of “progress” push you to the side of the road.

     You can feel the strain that hit so many farming muscles over the generations, lifting the endless rocks in tilled soil, the wind hitting your face as it swirls in the valley as if a small tornado, the sweet smell of spring and the fruit tree budding.

     Harvest time brings its own emotion, reinforced by what a father/mother saw, a grandfather/grandmother, those forebears in the early 20th, the 19th, the 18th   centuries. Endurance, though change has proven inevitable.

     In the 1936 Broadway play written by South Mountain resident Maxwell Andersen to help save the High Tor cliffs from quarrying, the Indian in greatcoat who is the wise man of the story notes that there is nothing made by succeeding land owners  “that will not make good ruins.” This has been true as all America continues to develop in its manifest destiny, certainly in once-rural Rockland County where Pomona lies.

     Yet, as sure as fruit matures from the pink and white blossoms that are the underpainting of South Mountain Road’s  beauty, the “ruins” are far off, “progress” so far unable to bulldoze the leprechaun-like magic of South Mountain Road, from the Concklin Orchards at state road 45 to the drop of High Tor at state road 9W.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com 

     

THE COLOR EVERYTHING

‘FLAG,’ acrylic on canvas/Gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

     The flag of the United States of America is a sacred cloth consisting of a field of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle or “canton” proclaiming (since 1960) 50 states. The stripes recognize the original British colonies that declared independence. The flag is a bold and dynamic statement that conjures up images of sacrifice, pride and patriotism as well as protest as inimitable to the republic as was the Boston Tea Party.

      Indeed, no American flag could have been raised on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, World War II if it did not represent both unity in cause and difference of opinion. We are all one, and we also are free to be independent, as per the rights of humankind.

As Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” It is our differences, and the tolerance of such, that grow the national family. We can walk hand-in-hand as different people.

    If you were to take the red, white and blue of our American flag heritage and add the God-given hues of the original dispersed, displaced Native Americans, the original enslaved African Americans who gave the South its economy, the original Chinese and other Asians who built our railroads, the original Sicilians and other Italians and the original Russian and other Jews who crafted the garment industry, the original Latinos who populated and grew Texas, California and elsewhere, the original people this and original people that — if we took all these and added them to the whites who landed at Plymouth Rock and those in our manifest destiny — the Germans, the Irish, the Swedes, the French, the whoever, what a flag of color that would be. And it is.

     We have long added those colors; we have been doing so every day since the beginning of a unique nation born in both dissent and union. Our flag  is that of constantly gathered humanity in the republic, a sheltering, protective cloth of many colors.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com

     

THE BARNS THAT BUILT AMERICA

‘BARN IN NYACK’/gunther

February 18, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook) 

    The thing about barns is that many of us have a thing for them.

      Barns are America. Well, they are also Germany, the Netherlands, the British Isles, Spain, varieties almost anywhere in the world. In the United States, with its Yankee, English, prairie, round, Dutch, bank and other barns, you see the history of the nation, its decades and centuries, its progress toward manifest destiny and, most of all, the incredible diversity of the people.

     They built the barns with post and beam, with native timber, rough hewn. They built the nation with the learning of their foreign forebears and the acquired spirit and shared lessons of the new world. They used Native-American construction ways as well.

     Both have endured, these barns, these people because as with barn styles the purposes may be similar but perhaps not the style. All can stand proud.

     Barns are instant nostalgia, their worn red color or nature’s coat after so much time pulling us back to simpler times though we forget the before-dawn labor that lasted past dusk.

     Today, people recycle barn post and beam, the side planks, too, for houses most beautiful but perhaps way too grand for the old farmer or the dairyman. 

     Passing by in the passing parade that is America’s generations we the people momentarily drop the pulse rate, lower the blood pressure as we glance over at the barns that built us. We are home again, if only for a quick moment.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com or on Facebook Messenger.

 

 

LIGHT DEFINING LIFE

Light emerging from Edward Hopper’s childhood birthplace/room in Nyack, N.Y. (Gunther photo)

February 11, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

(also on Facebook)

 

     Imagine being born into light, not necessarily spiritual though it cannot be denied. The first opening of the child’s eyes, then awakening each morning into young adulthood with strong, white/yellow luminescence bathing the room, moving along the walls, onto the bed, a life of its own as the sun rises.

     This was the daily world of Edward Hopper, the famed American realist painter born July 22, 1882, in Nyack, N.Y.

     The son of a village shop owner and a mother who was artistic, the young Hopper was uncharacteristically encouraged to be creative, to draw, his parents simply insisting that he attend an art school that would prepare him for a living in illustration.

     But the young Hopper, who would hatch himself from long gestation to give the world such classics as “Nighthawks” and “Early Sunday Morning,” did not enjoy the working world. 

     Doubtless he was always thinking back to the utter brightness of his childhood room, the magnificent Hudson River light shooting up Second Avenue through two front windows to awaken him to dreams not yet realized.

     The man who said “… what I wanted to do was paint sunlight on the side of a house” was swaddled, then reared and always infused with light. He gave us that visibility in his extraordinary paintings.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com or Facebook Messenger.