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Thursday, December 27, 2012


Thursday, 8:30 AM.  17 degrees, wind W, calm.  The humidity is 81%, the barometer stands at 30.21 in.  The sky  is mostly overcast with high gray clouds. and penny-sized parachutes of fluffy snow are falling straight down, making the ground fresh and clean again.  The wind has been calm long enough now that there is a skim coat of snow covered ice on the channel,  the fist time this winter, and Madeline Island, three miles out, is almost lost in the fog and falling snow.
        We saw two deer yesterday at dusk on Townsend Road.  They are the first I have seen in a month.  I can blame that on a lot of things, including not being out and about at the right time and place, but I do believe there are fewer deer now than at any time since we moved here.  I may be wrong, but I think they have become a cyclical population in our area; wolves, bear and overly liberal hunting pressure causing population booms and busts. An area is cleared of deer, the predators move on and the deer population eventually comes back again, the cycle then repeating itself.  In any event, the Department of Natural Resources has been working hard to limit the deer population’s effect on forest tree seedling establishment and  they have evidently reached their goal.
        I have just finished reading G .K. Chesterton’s 1912 short novel, “Manalive,” which has also just been made into a movie by an independent producer.  I don’t know whether it will be coming to a theater near you anytime soon, but I can recommend that you read the book, especially if you can allow yourself to be immersed in allegorical humor .  I say that in a cautionary, not a detrimental sense.  Some people will love it, others will wonder what it can possibly mean.  The tale is set in post-Victorian England, which is something of a stretch for the modern American to reach in the first place, and the plot and characters are rather fantastical, but are meant to be so.  If one can suspend disbelief and enter a rather upside down world populated by people both larger and smaller than real life, the story becomes at once hilarious and mystical, with all sorts of moral and social lessons, a sort of modern morality play with a slapstick bent.
        Chesterton is often extolled for his “common sense, profound faith, and joy,” and this story has all those attributes.  I will not try to outline the plot, it is so full of silliness you might not want to read it, and you should. I can best describe Chesterton, as I read him anyway, as a rather maniacal poet or prophet of the joy of life. He takes to task the nihilists among us, the agnostic priests and the unscientific scientists and the unenlightened authors who see the universe and life as nothing more than random chaos, and human existence as without meaning.   His descriptions of the beauty of everyday things is unparalleled. Thanks again for the book, Doug!
        Since a lot of Chesterton’s Manalive plot revolves around a pistol, I add the following:  a New York suburban newspaper has obtained and published not only the names and addresses of persons in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties north of New York City who have permits to keep a handgun in their homes; it has published a map of where they live.  It was, ostensibly, performing a service by informing the public where handguns were in their neighborhoods. 
        What they actually have done is inform every criminal which homes are protected, and which they can break into with impunity.  And my guess, having lived in exurban Westchester County for many years, is that the applications for gun permits will now skyrocket, as will the illegal (according to New York State law) possession of pistols.

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