Hal Borland-Naturalist/Journalist

Harold "Hal" Glen Borland (May 14, 1900 – February 22, 1978), born in Sterling NE,  just 15 miles from where this blogger grew up, was a friend of the family.  Harold signed these two books for the blogger's father.  Harold was an American author, journalist and naturalist. In addition to writing many non-fiction and fiction books about the outdoors, he was a staff writer and editorialist for The New York Times, for which he wrote daily reflections.  These daily reflections were compiled in two books: Sundial of the Seasons (1941-1964) and  Book of Days (After 1965).    In the forward of Book of Days he wrote:

"This book is intended neither as a calendar nor as an almanac.  It is a daybook simply because it records my day-to-day thinking about this world around me and my fellow creatures here.  In it, too, are reports about what is happening here and now, with observations on a snow-flake, a spring rain, a wood thrush singing in the dusk, an apple tree in bloom, the last shrill notes of a katydid before November's hard frost.  But through it all is the persistence of three questions:  Who am I?  Where am I?  What time is it?"    

Occasionally I will post a selection from one of Borland's books or quote of his for my own reflection.  Check back every so often to put your mood in a calm place as the author did in his daily editorials.  

April 13, 1954**

Spring Is For Laughter

It won’t be long now, it can’t be long, before Spring shows its full face and keeps it in sight.  And of all the Spring tonics ever brewed, the sight of Spring itself is the most effective.  Spring is bright and new and shiny, anything is possible, and you can laugh.  You don’t even have to take the weather seriously after the middle of April; you know it will even out pretty well.

So before long we can open the windows wide and let Spring in, and we can go out to the park or sit on a hillside and let Spring into us.  And high time.  It’s time we looked beyond the human perimeter.  You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion, or challenge the ideology of a violet.  And once you find that out, you can begin to laugh again, both the laughter of sheer delight and the laughter of amusement or absurdity.  We haven’t had much laughter of that kind in quite a while.

We’ve had a long Winter, and not only in terms of weather.  Humankind has achieved a kind of mass cabin fever.  Life has been a serious matter, so serious that we got to forgetting that man can make a very funny fool of himself being serious.  And taking other foolish men seriously.  It has become a political crime, somehow, to laugh at some of the performers.  Maybe we can now get outdoors and begin to smile and chuckle and laugh discreetly.  At the animals first, and the birds, but eventually at men.  And eventually we may recover our perspective, if enough of us begin to laugh at those who have so long insisted on being taken seriously with their absurd performances.  It’s time we opened a lot of windows.  It’s time we laughed again, in delight as well as relief.  It’s time to be rid of a few inhibitions and a lot of suspicions.  It’s time for Spring.

**Winter’s rigors and March mud often make early Spring a time of human cantankerousness and absurdity.  Usually we laugh off such antics, but the performance  of the United States Senate’s subcommittee on Internal Security in the Spring of 1954, when this entry was written, made laughter unfashionable if not actually criminal.  This editorial provoked several letters suggesting that the author was unpatriotic, perhaps even subversive.

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