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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beacon Bits -- Act Now

I just read a saying on my Farmer's Almanac desk calendar, "there are always 19 fine days in October." I thought about my recent 10-day 'staycation' packed with daily outings and simple pleasures and found the statement to be humorous since all ten were good days and there are now 9 days left in the month! The saying reminded me that there's no time to waste; so out came my planner, pen in hand, checking various websites and newspaper listings, looking for special events and things to do. There's still enough time for another author's talk at the BIRE with photographer Ted Spiegel and for one of the last tours for the season of Manitoga, home of designer Russell Wright, to fold more experiences into the fabric of this autumn season.

Reflecting on all the happenings of this month makes me remember all the joys of past Octobers, my favorite month of the year. And it brings to mind that all the happiness is not only planned, but spontaneous as well. Camera in hand, camera left at home. Being alone or sharing the experience. Intended outing or accidental find. A picnic along Fishkill Creek at Madam Brett Park. A walk along Beacon's waterfront for the annual Pumpkin Festival and catching a glimpse of Pete Seeger and the Clearwater. A trip to Storm King Art Center. A ride to Innisfree Garden. A moment's grace and haiku drifting into my mind as the image along Route 9D across from Storm King Mountain makes an impression.

Storm clouds are clearing;
The break of an autumn day--
Golden boughs ahead.

I also am mindful that as the month presses on and the days grow shorter, the clock is ticking and time is running out on two important sociopolitical issues: the votes on re-licensing Indian Point nuclear power plant and rescinding the moratorium on fracking in New York state. These are two issues that affect the natural environment in the Hudson Highlands and Hudson River Valley, both directly and indirectly. The river towns from the Bear Mountain bridge to the Newburgh-Beacon bridge all fall within the 'peak fatality zone' and the watershed area on the western banks of the river with local farms and orchards could be adversely impacted by chemical wastes from unregulated hydraulic fracturing processes. I wondered how many individuals hiking Breakneck Ridge over the last few weeks in October thought about being in the crossroads of two potential environmental disasters. During leaf peeping season you can see that even without any urgency, a traffic jam at the Bear Mountain circle leading across the Bear Mountain bridge to the 'goat trail' of Route 6/202 or north on 9D or 9W or west to the Palisades Parkway may last several hours. There is clearly 'no exit' or evacuation route if a nuclear crisis occurs along the local roads as they twist and turn, follow the river,  and go up and down the mountains.

Some food for thought: Just as the leaves begin to 'blow in the wind' and questions about right action take hold and individuals voicing concerns about our societal values are more visible and prevalent, as in Occupy Wall Street, know that there's still enough time to balance the personal and the political this autumn season. It's time for action and purpose. Time for a letter to Governor Cuomo and the other politicians about conscientious decision-making about denying Entergy the renewal of licenses for plants 2 and 3 at Indian Point. Consider it another good day in October. There's time for planning a bus trip to protest fracking. It will give you a head start on all the good days in October months in years to come. People in the Hudson River Valley have always sought to protect the natural environment; protesting is second nature. While Pete Seeger visited OWS on 10/22/11, he lives and sings and sails and stands for justice in the Hudson Highlands every day of the year.

Hudson Highlands - A watercolor by Amanda Epstein

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