October 9, 2000
After seven years of being chained to the care of an old house, four cats, four chickens and a dog; after four years of writing, editing, webmastering day/week/month in and out, Swans has packed up its laptop and hit the road for a two-week New England/New York tour. We are reporting live from Oneonta, New York near Cooperstown, namesake of James Fenimore Cooper (The last of the Mohicans) and most famous for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We should add that visiting dear friends is the reason we are here.
The road trip started in Boston and took us 823 miles through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Two-lane roads through the country and small villages were dotted with campaign signs for local candidates as well as one presidential team: Bush/Cheney. Two signs were spotted for Nader, and none for Gore/Lieberman. Whether this means we are travelling through Bush country or that Gore is a shoe-in remains to be seen. Lazio dominates Hillary, though this morning's debate shows that Hillary is clearly the more polished, the more senatorial of the two. She just needs to work on the accent.
The trip through Maine was anchored around a visit to Castine, a gorgeous coastal town, quiet and inviting. While exploring the map, we spotted "Swans Island" off the tip of Bass Harbor, and the rest is obvious. A 45-minute ferry ride led us to a small island with 400 inhabitants ranging from the struggling lobster fishermen to the vacationing Rockefellers and Cabot Lodges in their secluded estates. No, we will not relocate Swans' headquarters to its namesake but if the opportunity arose we would gladly spend two or three months there, in isolation, writing, reading and thinking. Perhaps the Rockefellers or the Cabot Lodges could oblige our wish.
Fall color is in full bloom and the countryside is like an impressionist painting on fire. The hues of red, yellow, gold, orange and purple create a poetic palette, a fiery show that should become a must-see for all.
Highly variable and more closely related to winter than to fall. In a matter of days we've gone from the high 70's, to rain, wind and cold. Today it is snowing. The weather is a constant topic of conversation; staying warm and preparing for winter are fundamental activities. (It's easy to dismiss the presidential election and world affairs when one is freezing.) Here one tracks the rise and fall of the temperature as one might track the stock market. A few degrees rise makes you feel like you're a real winner! We look forward with great anticipation to the morning when the thermostat is raised from 58 to 68, and to 5 o'clock in the evening, when the wood-burning stove is lit. One native and one transplant Californianů.
Local Politics Update
Here is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of the local paper, published October 6:
"I really can't understand with all the wonderful things that are accomplished in our great country, how come someone can't figure out how to get the miserable dark bloody veins out of the chicken in the stores. By the time I get that out I don't want what is left. I used to love chicken. But now, after this procedure, it is hard to like it. In the olden days, it was such a treat, chicken every Sunday. Saturday evening, my dad would catch a couple of chickens, chop off their heads and let them thrash around in the grass for a while. Then, my brothers and I would find themů." I'll spare you the rest.
While we were here, we thought we might send a letter to the editor, perhaps a piece from Swans, just to spread the word. However, we concluded that while this may be chicken country, it is definitely NOT Swans' country!
A Simpler Life
If you pass through Oneonta and want good bread, stop at the top of Kelly Corners Road and ask for Frank. For the best seafood bisque, visit the Tunnicliff in Cooperstown. For fresh milk, go to Bud's farm in Pierstown. He'll make you clean the barn first, but it's worth it. Wild turkeys, deer and coyotes roam and geese fill the air morning and evening. No New York Times, no television and no traffic. The silence can be deafening. Were it not for the weather, the area could be construed as heaven on earth. Our tour will continue in Manhattan and conclude in Chicago, slowly taking us from a simpler life back to the totally different reality of Silicon Valley in a matter of hours.
Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath
Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath