On Kindness

Oct 11, 2023 by Rose O'Keefe

After I gave a friend some pawpaws, she and her daughter mentioned Beyond the Pawpaw Trees, a 1954 book with story and pictures by Palmer Brown. This imaginative story was fantastical, strange and dated. No doubt someone would scold the author for improper stereotypes, but overall it led me to admire the unusual take on ignoring advice to only believe what you see, as compared to heeding the advice to see what you believe. That’s the conflicting guidance that Anna Lavinia got from her stiff  mother and her absentee father, that carried her through a very odd journey that ends with Anna’s mother softening after the father’s return.

The obit, “Beauty Been” in The Economist (Oct. 7), mourned the death of a beloved 200-300 year-old tree in Northumberland, England. Whoever wrote the memorial to this popular tree clearly understood its place and was horrified after it was cut down anonymously by chain saw. The heartfelt tribute ended with a lovely quotation from Gerard Manley Hopkins, “. . . After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.” Reading this right after finishing Beyond the Pawpaws, was poignant.

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