Richard St. Barbe Baker (on trees & believing)

I love trees.

My little town had looming, graceful trees on nearly everybody’s front yard. They surrounded the town square where I learned baseball, football, dare-devilry and cloud-watching. I was a boy of the trees: I climbed them, threw and hit balls over, through and around them, and sometimes could get an aching kind of wonder in my chest by just staring at the new greens of spring and the dry riot of fall. I can sometimes see the forest, but I prefer the trees.

He planted his last tree, days before he died, on the USaskatchewan campus where he had first studied forestry.

He planted his last tree, days before he died, on the USaskatchewan campus where he had first studied forestry.

Richard St. Barbe Baker isn’t well-known anymore, but he should be. The organization he began in Kenya, the Men of the Trees (along with another, the International Tree Foundation), is still active in dozens of countries. Its members are thought to have planted millions of trees.

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About Boston.

I woke to a small explosion this morning, a mother-son dispute about laptop use. We worry about how compelling is our young teen’s attachment to headphones, computers and his PDA. Our little sense of post-dawn peace was – well, I can’t say shattered, just can’t, because my own little electronic window just told me about Boston.

Victory and crisis, crisis and victory.

When you love sport as I do, there is something especially horrible when evil visits the home court of dreams and persistence and the desire to surpass oneself, one of the places we go to believe in human goodness and greatness. This year’s Boston Marathon, 26.2 miles of tradition, where Tom Longboat brought honour to his Grand River people and thousands have found deeply personal victory, was dedicated to the 26 who died at the Sandy Hook elementary school. Now there is disbelief and pain where there should be only exhaustion, exhilaration and the giving of one’s all.

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Katherine Switzer (on running and hope)

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”

Katherine Switzer (1947-), the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon. Today, a bitter cast to this gorgeous quote, as the 2013 marathon saw several die, many more injured, who had done exactly what the indomitable Ms. Switzer had recommended.

Antonio Gramsci (on life in centuries that start with 2)

“The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned.

Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937, Italian philosopher and political theorist. I love this: it is brief and full of meaning. We have lost our childish imaginings, many of them, anyway, in the last 150 years or so. The price, unhappily, is that many of us have also lost faith, hope and amazement. (And Gramsci didn’t see WWII, or Watergate, or 9-11, or reality TV. What do you think?