A periodic column
by Steve Duffy ‘77
July 28, 2011 –Among the many things that makes life in Yellow Springs and at Antioch College interesting is that we have deliciously diverse seasons. In fact, this summer has been among the warmest in memory.
A former Antioch College Tai chi instructor and his wife have spent many an afternoon during their recent visit to Yellow Springs reading and surfing the Web in the Olive Kettering Library during the height of the day’s heat. I had not seen him in more than a decade but I instantly recognized him, despite the salt-and-peppery beard.
He often taught his Tai chi classes on the main lawn or near the edge of the Golf Course during the early morning when all was calm, cool, and fresh.
In the process of moving from Milwaukee to Utah, he came to Yellow Springs to gather some of his possessions and maybe some perspective. We talked about his move and about Tai chi. At one point, perhaps to stretch his mind, he asked if it would be okay to stretched his body by doing a wee-bit of Tai-chi in the library lobby.
That seemed certainly a better bet than outside which, on that day, was roasting even in the shade. So he did a few moments of Tai chi with the likes of Rod Serling ’50, Eleanor Holmes Norton ’60, Leland Clark ’41, and Peter Irons ’66 looking down from the series of “Noteworthy Alumni” posters that hang in the lobby.
Another recent visitor was alumna from 1971, who visited with her family on a Sunday. We spent three hours on campus and in the Glen, hiked all the way to the springs in that heat. We found some relief from the sun in the library and in South Hall, where we looked at some architectural visions for the future.
We also stopped at North Hall (to take photos of her particular piece of sacred ground), at the Coretta Scott King Center (which didn’t yet exist when she was a student) and the horseshoe, where she photographed the historic marker and the Morgan Place sign.
A few days after she’d gone, I received a wonderful e-mail. She said she didn’t know what was more exciting, walking around campus and feeling tremendous nostalgia or viewing the renderings of proposals to renovate campus buildings.
I also hope that the future will be just as wonderful for those coming in this next season, fall, which is when campus should be wonderfully colorful in countless ways. But before the summer ends, there is the annual Perseid meteor showers – when on an August evening one could take a sleeping bag or picnic blanket out to the Golf Course and see the Milky Way and oh so many shooting stars!
Even as we plan to make the Golf Course a venue for sustainability and farming, I hope we leave just enough room for that August star gazing – that is, if climate change doesn’t effect that simple August pleasure.
But we also get the worst kind of weather.
In 1978, there was a blizzard with 16-foot drifts between Yellow Springs and Young’s Dairy just outside of town. The National Guard came in and carved what seemed like snow canyons. In 1977, it got so cold the village water tower froze. During one of those super cold late 70’s or early 80’s evenings, I was still at the library around 5:30 p.m. when music professor John Ronsheim, my next door neighbor at the time, stopped by came by the front desk to offer to walk me home so I walk home in the bitter cold.
The voyage across campus to his car took some time because John would stop and talk to every student he’d encounter on the way. I finally arrived at my Stafford Street well after 7 p.m. What a delicious winter memory of John and his love for squeezing in some mentoring during every moment. John, who loved food as much as music, would even advise farmers at the local farmers market on the exact day when Italian plum tomatoes would be their sweetest (September 10).
For me, everything leads back to the Olive, and thinking about the changing of seasons in Yellow Springs reminds me that Olive Kettering Library is one of the best places to hang out no matter the season. Despite the tumult of the last couple of years, the library remained open, serving patrons throughout Ohio and beyond.
And it serves still.
Here is a sample of what the world has recently borrowed from the Olive Kettering Library. It is the contents of a library “truck” from last week. The order is how you’d find these books if you walked from one end of the stacks to the other. There are things on this list that are hot in any season and as delicious as John Ronsheim’s September 10 Italian plum tomato!
Brann: World of the imagination
Burke: Grammar of motives
Russell: Autobiography of Bertrand Russell
LaCapra: Writing history, writing trauma
Davidson: Black man’s burden
Fanon: Wretched of the earth
Brennan: At home in the work
Hogarth: Insights in…
Gibson: End of capitalism
Appadurai: Modernity at large
Parsons: Toward a general theory of action
Trilandia: Cross-cultural study of social distance
Behabib: Claims of culture
Bogardus: Immigration and race
Henderson (Algo): Innovative spirit
Johns: Improving reading
Igoa: Inner world of the immigrant child
Simpson: Environmental stewardship and the Green Campus
That’s the joint: hip-hop studies reader
Cook: English abbies and priories
Boggs: Art of watching films
Turning life into fiction
Leyda: Years and hours of Emily Dickinson
Highsmith: Talented Mr. Ripley
Sebald: The emigrants
Kasner: Mathematics of the imagination
Morse: Methods of theoretical physics
McMurry: Fundamentals of general organic and biological chemistry, 6th ed.
Catastrophes in earth’s history
Welty: Life of Birds
Greenmery: Extinct and vanishing birds of the world
Campbell: China Study on nutrition
Woodman: Addiction to perfection
Goddard: Reflexes, learning and behavior
Updledger: Cranio sacral therapy
Mollison: Permaculture; a designer’s manual
Eldon: The journey is the destination
Ulmer: Cherokee cookbook
Steve Duffy ‘77 is a library circulation specialist and special assistant to alumni relations at Antioch College.