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News of Otsego County

“Rural Hours”

Editorial: Rural Hours

Editorial
Rural Hours

This week, as we watch the forests magically change their colors, wave fond goodbyes to the squawking flocks and ponder the stillness of the lake in its reflective glory, Susan Fenimore Cooper comes to mind. And while we were planning to offer our own reflections on the beauty of the changing season, Cooper’s enchanting treatment of the subject would be hard to top, so we let her speak for herself. It was in 1850 that her book, “Rural Hours,” was first published, and in its pages we can confirm that rather little has changed.

“October 2nd … The day was perfectly still, the lake calm and placid, the reflection of its banks more than usually lovely in its clearness, and accuracy: the changing woods, each brilliant tree, the hills, farms, and buildings were all repeated with wonderful fidelity, and all the sweetness of the natural landscape.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Tour Oneonta Revitalization Plan 06-16-21
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16

Tour Oneonta Revitalization Plan

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ONEONTA TOUR – 7 p.m. Join Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig on walking tour with Bob Bob Brzozowski and learn about the results and plans of the Down Town Revitalization Initiative. Admission by donation. Presented by Greater Oneonta Historical Society. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm

THE OTHER FENIMORE COOPER

THE OTHER FENIMORE COOPER

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Susan Fenimore Cooper’s “Rural Hours” (1850) was known to Henry David Thoreau and praised by Charles Darwin.

After reading “Rural Hours,” Charles Darwin, of all people, mentioned Susan Fenimore Cooper in a letter to Asa Gray, perhaps the most important American botanist of the 19th Century.

Struck by her understanding of the “battle” between Old and New World weeds, he asked, “Who is she?”

Nowadays, we know the “weeds” she was writing about were “invasive species,” a burning environ-mental issue in Glimmerglass’ environs even today, 125 years after James Fenimore Cooper’s daughter’s death, as we worry about the zebra mussel, the water chestnut and, heavens, the European frog bit.

If Charles Darwin knew her, “How do I know about Henry David Thoreau and not about this woman?” Professor Johnson asked herself when she first happened on “Rural Hours.” It was in the 1990s. She was a graduate student immersed in the Transcendentalists while seeking her masters and doctorate at Claremont Graduate University in California.

With a planned focus on Shakespeare or the British Modernists, “I was taken by surprise when I got scooped up in environmental writing, about the human relationship to the natural world,” she said.

Audubon Magazine Features Cooperstown Nature Writer

CLICK TO READ TEXT OF ARTICLE

Audubon Magazine Features

Cooperstown Nature Writer

Susan Fenimore Cooper’s Reputation Rising

Susan Fenimore Cooper

COOPERSTOWN – This month’s edition of Audubon magazine features Susan Fenimore Cooper, whose “Rural Hours” (1850) was mentioned by Henry David Thoreau his journals prior to the publication of his famous “Walden” (1854).

Credited simply as “by a lady,” her “Rural Hours,” while praised by such giants at Charles Darwin, prevented Susan from even approaching the fame of her father, James Fenimore Cooper.

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