Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

May 8, 2008

We all need to develop a seeing eye

"You have to have a seeing eye!'' Helen Byrnes Miller told me, shortly after I moved to Allegany County more than half a century ago.

She was a multi-talented person, president of AAUW, in charge of the Bird Camp in Garrett County, where so many of our children learned about pileated woodpeckers and friendly snakes, and winner of prizes for flower arrangements.

At the time we were talking about the wild grape leaves she had used in a bouquet, turning them over so that the purple veins on the bottom side added a subtle, unexpected bit of color.

I never developed Helen's ability to recognize the potentials in the woodland weeds, but I think of her often, applying what she said to other observations.

It is not enough to look at the world around us; we need to notice details in the landscape, shifting patterns in the clouds and the quirks of appearance and behavior that differentiate individuals.

We don't all notice the same things, but we can share what we see. Several years ago, on an excursion to Lake Louise in Canada, I had the benefit of someone else's "seeing eye.''

Traveling from Vancouver to Banff, our train followed a river on the far side of which there rose endless tree-covered mountains. It would have been a rather boring trip but for two women, mother and daughter, in the seat in front of me.

They were experienced hunters, and as they looked across at the forest their trained eyes detected movement - a bear, young deer, an elk, or eagles circling overhead. They pointed out what I would never have noticed on my own.

It is not difficult to develop an eye for plants and animals, for architecture or department store bargains, but we are apt to look at other people without actually seeing them. We lump them together on the basis of national origin, or language, or religion, or age or hair-style or income. Knowing that much about a group, we don't bother to look further.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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