Bryan: Of herons and history

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(HOST) Commentator Frank Bryan has been thinking about changes and continuity – in both man and nature.

(BRYAN) He stood alone at dawn at the top of the pond. When I moved toward my chair on the deck he silently rose into the mist and drifted away down the valley. His flight called forth the following thoughts.

Great blue herons are the harbingers of autumn here on Big Hollow road. The end of summer had come – too early somehow.  History would record it had been a wet, cloudy season, as if we had been deprived of April’s promise. And this summer there was the recession – not as bad in Vermont as elsewhere; but bad enough to cause the Vermont Historical Society to cancel its annual Vermont History Exposition in Tunbridge.       

Historical societies depend on private funding from the people – when the people are hurting economically, so are they.
The heron disappeared in the fog and I wondered about him.  What mystery of genetic coding had brought this fantastic creature through the eons of time to Big Hollow road?

Did he know HIS history? No. To paraphrase philosopher Carl Becket: The significance of man is that he is insignificant but he knows it. He – among all of the earth’s creatures asks: why? And ponders: whence?

I turned to go into the kitchen to get a jacket – the woods would be cold until the sun shown through – and I thought "What a shame about the expo". For it is the historians who preserve the genetic code of the human race; not as animals but as collectives of human beings – as citizens. If we do not remember what we have done together (both the bad and the good) how can we use our uniquely magnificent powers of reflection and free will to fashion a better world?

It has been said that "In wilderness lies the preservation of the world." But it can be equally said that "In history lies the future of humanity."

Soon the heron will be gone and deep ice will cover the pond. But in time, summer will come again to the North Country as will the herons. And one hopes that the Vermont Historical Society will prevail and the Vermont History Expo will return to Tunbridge – supported by hundreds of town historical societies across the state.

For in herons and historians lies the hope that the truths of the planet can be preserved and the promise of life itself advanced.

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