Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last Autumn Colors

It was a bleak and frosty landscape that greeted us upon our return on Saturday from an over-exposure of our senses in France. But we seemed to have brought Paris’s cold, wintry weather with us to Kentucky.

While the peasants played bourgeoisie for a fortnight and autumn only starting to take a grip on France, in our absence our maison campagne was transformed to the simpler beauty of nature in late autumn. Sunday I went for a short walk.

The stands of White Ash trees surrounding the house turned bald and it now looks like Gulliver bombarded Lilliput land with wooden darts with spiky feathers. Their grey bark against a grey sky made them ghostly. But the twisted road to the house still looked welcoming and inviting with thick layers of leaves leading the eye and islands of autumn in an ocean of green and brown.

This could be some of the last autumn colors for the year because possible strong winds from Hurricane Sandy might reach us the next few days and clean the trees of leaves in preparation for winter. Luckily we came back 2 days before the mess that Sandy is creating with all the airports on the eastern side of the country closed. Paris airport was already a mess on Saturday morning due to striking airport workers.   

The road to the pond looked inviting but the breeze was cold and my hands were freezing. With more than 20 species of trees around the pond it probably would have been very colorful, but that’s for another day, another time.

But by just walking around the house there were enough splashes of color against the bleak sky to appreciate autumn.

And it felt good to stand on top of the hill again overlooking a freshly cut and baled field and my neighbors cows in the pasture. France was excellent, it will stay with us, but it’s also good to be back home again.

Tiny splashes of summer's colors still exist at the front porch. What’s up with David’s bust in the garden soil? It’s there by design. He stepped down. He is tired of being put on a pedestal all the time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Thrill In The Ville

Every city in the USA is looking for a financial boost to dispel the current depressed economic conditions. Danville, Kentucky is no different and many city councilors and business owners are hoping that the Thrill in the Ville II, the Vice Presidential debate between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan this coming Thursday at Danville’s Centre College will do that for the town.
That a town of only 16,000 people even got the debate is a miracle, especially after Centre College also hosted the Vice Presidential debate in 2000 between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. It’s rare that a city gets a second allocation seeing that many cities apply for the privilege to host a debate. But then, since the previous debate Centre College has raised $170 million to add on new classrooms and residence halls, renovate many of its 100 year old buildings, and added new athletic fields.

How many visitors will eventually rock up for the thriller is unknown, but TV crews seems to be everywhere (it has been reported that about 3,000 media people will be here for the event), Main Street has been beautified and is busier than normal, the college has been cordoned off by 8 feet high temporary fences, several streets have been closed off and the Norton Center for the Arts where the debate will take place, is a restricted zone patrolled by local and state police like Fort Knox. Their biggest fear: Car bombs and snipers. What has our election campaign in the US become? Luckily this kind of security is only erected for the VP and Presidential candidates.

 Centre College. Abe Lincoln reading a book in front of the college library.

A little bit of history

Centre College was founded by Presbyterian Church leaders and officially chartered by the Kentucky Legislature on January 21, 1819. The name reflects the College’s location in the geographic center of Kentucky. But the idea of a higher learning facility in Kentucky was already started in 1780 when the Virginia Assembly set aside 8,000 acres of land for this "seminary of learning." At that stage Kentucky was still part of the state of Virginia. Kentucky became a state in its own right in 1792. In 1783 a board of trustees met at Tom Crow's Station (the building is still standing today as a private home in Danville) to organize the school and instruction began at the Transylvania Seminary near Danville in 1785. The seminary was later moved to Lexington and is today known as Transylvania University. So a new Centre College was started in 1820.

Centre College, Danville, KY

Centre college has long been recognized as one of the best liberal arts colleges in America and among its alumni are 2 U.S. vice presidents (John Cabell Breckinridge-Class of 1838 and Adlai Ewing Stevenson-Class of 1859), a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Frederick M. Vinson-Class of 1909 and Class of 1911-Law), a U.S. Chief Justice (John Marshall Harlan-Class of 1850), and at least 13 U.S. senators, 43 U.S. representatives, 11 state governors, and several moderators of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church.

Danville, Kentucky

Lying just southwest of Lexington, KY, in pure Bluegrass Country, and on the eastern side of the historic triangle of Danville, Perryville and Harrodsburg, Danville has in the past been voted one of the best small towns in America by Time Magazine, while Progressive Farmer magazine has voted Boyle County as the 3rd best place to live in rural America, and in 2011 CNN/Money named it the 4th best place to retire in America.
Not bad for a small town where the cost of living is still low, but the quality of life is high.