Poor Will’s Almanack: March 28 – April 3, 2017

In his 1989 classic, The End of Nature , ecologist Bill McKibben talks about people’s expectations that spring will come the way it always has come. There may, of course, be cold springs and warm springs, wet springs and dry springs, but what if our deeper expectations are unmet? What if spring is so cold or so warm that it becomes a different season altogether? And what happens, McKibben asks, if our certainty about the predictable sequence of nature falters? People ask me whether I have seen signs of global warming in southwestern Ohio where I live. I look for changes in blooming dates of flowers, the number of insects and birds, the patterns of their songs. I always look for what is the same and what is missing. I find that I have to look hard, and even then, I can’t always make sense out of what happens in front of me. While a certain number of flowers or leaves or a certain level of warmth is necessary for one to experience April, a marked decrease in the number of elements

Local nonprofits to clean up bike trails

The Yellow Springs Community Foundation, or YSCF, is pleased to announce April 1 as “Local Nonprofit Community Give Back Day,” with support from the YS Chamber of Commerce, the Village of Yellow Springs and the Midwest Rails-to-Trails Regional Office.

On April 1, the local Nonprofit Network will clean the bike trail and associated parking lots within Yellow Springs. The clean up teams will be organized by Rails to Trails and supported by Greene County Parks and Trails. After the clean up, the Nonprofit Network will have a picnic on the Bryan Center lawn or in the gym, as the weather requires. The YSCF will provide La Pampa Grill and Mexico City Taco to the Network workers and their families; YS Chamber will provide Young’s Ice cream as dessert. The YSCF Philanthropy Awards will be announced during the picnic, awarded to the recipients during the Annual Business Meeting earlier in the day.

“All of our local nonprofits are very thankful for the continuous generosity of our community”, said YSCF Executive Director Jeannamarie Cox. “We wanted a way to show our appreciation as a network to the community. The bike path clean-up seemed a perfect opportunity; it is used by many of our residents and our visitors, too. The parking lots associated with the bike path are often the first view of our village by visitors and providing a first impression of our community, so we will focus on those as well. Additionally, we will have the YS portion of the bike path ready for the April 8 opening day for trails”.

The Nonprofit Network is a collaborative group open to all local nonprofits focused on ways to improve effectiveness and reach.

High Speed Wireless Survey

While there are existing options for high-speed internet in Yellow Springs, we are considering an investment in high-speed wireless infrastructure as another alternative. If you’ve got an opinion or perspective on this issue, please share it with us in the form below.

High Speed Wireless Survey

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BLOG-But Why?

Riding the excitement of Chris Tebbetts’s recent homecoming to Yellow Springs, my family sat down to watch Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life. I expected to giggle with my children at the farcical film. We went on a much stranger journey instead.

My son bonded with the lead characters Rafe and Leo. He shook with grief when the two devoted friend said their goodbyes at the film’s end. He found he couldn’t let the film’s resolution go easily. “But why?” he asked wondering at their fate. I did my best to explain the arc of love and friendship. We talked about other circumstances of separation—for example, our dog Bellatrix who would be entering advanced service dog training with 4 Paws for Ability and transition to her job as helper dog. We talked about family that we had lost to sickness. “Did you ever have a friend who died from cancer?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered, “a young girl who lived next door” then recalled singing the young woman’s favorite hymn The Old Rugged Cross at her funeral.

My daughter interjected, “She was your best friend, right?” recalling a separate conversation about a middle school buddy. “No,” I said, “Brenda died from a traffic accident.” My son asked what happened. I told him she was on her bike and was struck by a truck. She was crossing the road after school on her way to the post office. “Now people know to let the buses go first before releasing walkers after school.”

At this reveal, he unleashed a torrent of questions wanting to know the details and yet horrified the tragic event involving the big school busses he loves and a “highway big rig”. I held him close as he took in the details and sought still more “But why did she go to the post office?” “Were her parents very sad?” “Did she go to the hospital?” He had calmed down from his first wave grief over fictional characters, but now he felt the impact of my pain. He shook again with grief and yet the question kept coming. “Did you..? Did she…? Did they…? But why…? But why?”

The why questions were hard to answer. Why the doctors couldn’t save her? Why did my friend miss the danger right before her?

I can answer some tough questions. “Why is the sky blue?”

“Well, child, the atmosphere acts like a lens bending purple and blue light more than green and red toward our eyes. Then, along the path to our eyes, the atmosphere absorbs more purple than blue.”

I can answer this but my child doesn’t want to know that answer just now. What he wants to know is if Mom knows why the sky is blue. One of the most reassuring things for him to know is his parents’ capacity to frame the world.

He asked to see Brenda’s picture. I pulled my senior year book from a bookshelf and showed him the in memoriam page. I read him the poem of dedication. With the idea of leaving the scene of her death and focusing on her memory, I told my son about how Brenda and I would walk across campus hand in hand from the middle school to the high school orchestra room. That path of promise we walked many times together. In the high school, we would practice our instruments…two troubadour harps we affectionately called Betty and Veronica. He drew a breath and wished he could meet Brenda. Then he asked, “Mom, what is heaven?”

I wasn’t at a completely loss for words but improvised a rift. I admitted from the first that we are really not sure. After a bit of casting about, I arrived at the answer that it is the well of all our souls…the source and home of our consciousness. He seem satisfied with that framing. It gave me some comfort too imagining a place where both the spirits of my childhood friend and my child could commune.

We called our dog Bellatrix up on our bed. The three of us pulled tight together snuggling close. That night he stirred several times breathing in with sobs still shaking with grief. I tucked my son under my chin and trembled at his capacity to empathize.

Wright Brothers- Presented by the National Park Services

Wright Brothers—Presented by the National Park Services will be held at the Yellow Springs Community Library on Sat., Mar. 25, from 1-2 p.m. The Big Read title is The Wright Brothers by David McCollough. Join us as the National Park Service presents an overview of the Wright brother’s lives. This program will explore various incidents which highlight the brothers’ inventiveness, as well as some of the challenges they had to overcome in their quest for powered flight.

For a complete schedule of activities, stop by your local library or log on to the library website at www.greenelibrary.info.

 

The Greene County Public Library system consists of seven locations: Beavercreek, Jamestown, Cedarville, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Xenia and Bellbrook.

Preschool Storytime

Preschool Storytime will be held at the Yellow Springs Community Library on Fri.,. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Forgotten Corners, vol. 2 – Emilys’ Garden

Photos by Aaron Zaremsky
Text by Dylan Taylor-Lehman

When Aaron and I began talking about this series, I was excited for the opportunities to check out weird old buildings and hidden foundations and have a little fun playing up a place’s forgotten-ness. Even places that have hosted grisly crimes, such as the valley behind the Bryan Center that we presented as the first post in this series, the crimes happened long enough ago that the tragedy has crossed over into folklore, an interesting historic anecdote that can be written about with some flippancy in the present.

And so when Aaron and I went to check out what he described as an overgrown statue garden on the Antioch campus, I was expecting another crumbling relic that held a quirky story. The garden is called Emilys’ Garden, and it is in a patch of trees across from the Science building and the old Arts building. As the pictures show, there are in fact some weathered relics: human-shaped figures sit among tangles and weeds, with small piles of rock at the base showing their steady decay. A few of them have pieces of rebar sticking out where big chunks have fallen away.

The day we were there was appropriately grim and grey. Walking around the site, even before I knew what it was, I could tell that the garden spoke for something monumentally sad. Emilys’ Garden commemorates the lives of two women, Emily Howell and Emily Eagen, who were murdered 17 years ago while on co-op in Costa Rica. Far from being a quirky tale, the loss of their lives feels like something that future Yellow Springers will never be able to talk about with detachment.

Emily Howell, a poet and photographer, was a second-year student at Antioch who came to the school from Lexington, KY. There she met Emily Eagen, a perpetually happy swimmer from Ann Arbor, and the two became fast friends. They hosted a radio program together and celebrated that they were born only four days apart. When Howell went to study in Costa Rica as part of her co-op, there was no question that Eagen would come visit. In March 2000, the two Emilys and another Antioch student rented a car and stayed in a cabin in Puerto Viejo. On March 12, Eagen and Howell went to a nearby bar while their friend stayed behind. They never came back and were reported missing the next morning. Not long after, their jeep was found on the side of a rural road, and it had been set on fire. In the bushes near the jeep were the bodies of Howell and Eagen, who had been shot to death. Both were 19.

Police determined that the women were abducted outside of a bar and driven to the spot where they were killed. Two men were eventually arrested and charged with the murders. A 16-year old, who had recently attacked a security guard with poison gas, was seen driving the women’s jeep and wearing jewelry taken from Howell. A 19-year old accomplice was arrested soon thereafter. The murder weapon was recovered when two kids turned over the gun that had been thrown out of the men’s car window. The 16-year old was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison while the 19-year old was given 70 years since he was an adult. A third suspect reportedly escaped back to Nicaragua before he could be apprehended.

Many newspaper accounts from the time mention the families’ agonizing screams when they were given the news. The families eventually traveled to Costa Rica to claim their daughters. The Howells also ended up coming back with a new puppy, as the Emilys were constantly playing with a litter of seven puppies who knew exactly which cabin door to come to for food and attention. The Emilys were buried, with memorial ceremonies held on campus and their respective hometowns. The Eagen family eventually donated $6,000 they had raised to three schools in rural Costa Rica in Emily’s name.

The women were also memorialized on campus. Two redbud trees were planted in their honor, and a student named Alena Schaim created Emilys’ Garden as her senior project. Schaim raised money to construct the sculptures and spent more than $5,000 out of pocket on the project. While Schaim didn’t personally know the Emilys, she “‘fell in love with them’ while working on the sculptures.”

“I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I think they’ve been watching me work,” she told the Dayton Daily News in 2003. “I feel that they are with me, and the sculptures are part of me.”

There are five figures in a circle in the garden. By design, they are built to fall apart, a paean to the immutable truth that we all return to the earth. “The circle represents creations and the revision of both Emilys’ lives,” Schaim said.

The theory goes that the Emilys were killed in a carjacking gone awry. It’s not fair that someone can wield such control over another’s life, and it’s not fair that their lives raced only to this heartbreaking conclusion.The entirety of their lives, all of their jokes, ambitions, interests, relationships, cut off in that one instant. When you are in the middle of an incredible adventure, like they were, it’s easy to feel that the world is only a beautiful, welcoming place. The more I read about the case, the more I could (begin to) imagine the terror that came with having that reality shattered.

Emilys’ Garden is a “forgotten corner” of Yellow Springs, in the sense that it is a place not often seen or talked about. But while a place can be avoided, the dark side of the human condition cannot. We can only will ourselves to forget there is an often terrible yin to life’s yang. The statues have crumbled, but the gloom does not.