The two pieces below are from the Western Sullivan Public Library’s “Got a Minute? Let Me Tell You” community storytelling project.
By Sui-Ling Ruiz
“You love books because you are a teacher,” she said.
“Is that what you think?” I replied.
“Yes,” she replied with sureness in her voice. She had rendered me speechless. How could I explain that what she had said was not true? To say I loved books because I was a teacher was like saying that I played the violin because I played in an orchestra. Surely the love of playing the violin happens before you play in an orchestra.
I wanted to tell her that I began to love books when I read “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Theo LeSieg. I kept waiting for those apples to fall. My first grade teacher read about Clara Barton, who organized the Red Cross, and Florence Nightingale who worked tirelessly as a caring and dedicated nurse. They might have influenced my desire for public service though I can’t be sure. I thought about them a lot in first grade.
I ran away from home with Claudia Kincaid to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She was the main character in the book “the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler,” by E.L. Konigsburg. Claudia and I had similar thoughts. Early in the 20th century, I lived with a family in Brooklyn while reading the All-of-a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor.
I read books in elementary school that pushed me to become inquisitive, develop empathy and caused me to reflect on my own thoughts and truths. Books helped me to explore ideas and journey down paths unknown. That was the magic of the printed word and it grabbed me long before I knew that I would grow up to become a teacher. I hope you find the magic and wish you well in your travels.
The Beauty of the Delaware
By Siba Kumar Das
When I was young I scoffed at my wife when she urged me to exercise my body. Late in life I realized how foolish I was. I was overweight in my thirties and forties; today I'm not. For this I must thank the beauty of the Delaware River, on whose banks I have taken frequent walks since I became a Callicoon resident over fifteen years ago.
The Delaware is Callicoon's biggest glory. Upstream from the bridge to Pennsylvania the waters make a great arc widening to a lake-like expanse. Here the river glows at dusk with an ethereal light. When the geese land noisily on the grey water just before nightfall they light up the water in parallel lines with their furrows. You see streak after streak of splashing water catching the last light.
The Catskill Mountains were once an ancient plateau. Sitting atop layered rocks that were formed some 375 million years ago under a Devonian sea, the plateau has been gradually eroded by the down cutting action of glaciers and streams. Today's mountains and valleys are the result. During my walks I often think of this extraordinary geological adventure. The beautiful Delaware valley is the product of a story that has been unfolding for millions of years.
At one time the Catskills were covered by millions of acres of hemlock and pine. Logged unsustainably during the 18th and 19th centuries, the forests were gone by the early 20th century. That loss need not have been as enormous as it became. Having walked some hundreds of miles on the Delaware's banks, I think now of the following question: Shouldn't we pause and reflect before we proceed beyond the precipice with unsustainably exploiting our region's natural resources, including those underground?