September 28, 2011 – Issue 3

“Fallen Hemlock” fights back

against aphid epidemic

Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, I saw a sign somewhere or read on a table tent in the Caf about the Fallen Hemlock exhibit in the art building. I will be candid—it did not interest me and sounded, if anything, boring. Because of this uneducated judgment, I missed out on the opening reception during which artist Allison Warren from Chicago was present. Thankfully, last Thursday I visited the Anne Wright Wilson Art Gallery despite my low expectations, saving myself from totally missing out on an exceptional sight. Here’s how it happened: I decided to show a friend of mine the art gallery in the LRC. After enjoying those selections, I suggested, on a whim, that we look in the art building’s gallery as well. I was truly surprised by what we found.

Lying on the oor was a tree. It was a real tree cut into pieces. There were even piles of mulch lying around (artistically placed, I suppose). The trunk of the tree was wrapped in what looked like a white bandage. My friend commented that it was reminiscent of a mummy. Drawn to a podium spread with brochures, I was curious to learn what all of this was about. One informative pamphlet later, I found that this “Fallen Hemlock” exhibit was meant to raise awareness of a killer…the dangerous Hemlock Woolly Adelgid!!! For those of you who, like me, are not quite up to date on the various species of aphids, let me explain. Hemlock woolly adelgids are small insects from Asia. These non-U.S. natives were found on American soil in the 1920s. Unfortunately, these bugs kill eastern and Carolina hemlocks within a few years of reaching them and have been spreading up and down the east coast and are also found in parts of Kentucky.

OK, so who cares if a few trees die? We cut a lot of them down anyway , right? The problem is that this issue is bigger than a few trees. It could become an epidemic and has been compared to the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, which killed the majority of the American chestnuts (the species has still not recovered). Hemlocks are long lasting trees, living to be hundreds (like 800 plus) of years old. The shade and shelter that they provide are important to forest habitats and their photosynthesis helps remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Knocking out a species as important as the hemlock would have terrible results.

Hemlock woolly adelgids can be spread by humans as well as by animals and the wind. Pests like the adelgids are a reason not to carry rewood from one sight to another when camping or traveling. Local wood should be gathered or bought to burn rather than wood that could carry adelgids or other alien species that may contaminate the forests. Leave your rewood at home!

So back to the exhibit… a hemlock tree cut up to bits, lying on the oor inside a building and wrapped in mummy cloth sounds pathetic. It feels wrong to see a tree in such a state. Still, something about it is beautiful and even majestic. This unusual exhibit is striking and informative—denitely worth visiting.


“The Help” unravels enthrallment

and disappointment

Staff Writer

This summer, at the request of Hannah Flanery, the R.A. staff at Centre College’s G.S.P. formed a book club. After much debate, we chose our rst (and eventually only) book to read: “The Help.” Because I am an avid reader of mysteries and suspense novels, I was skeptical of whether or not I would nd interest in such a book, but since I tell everyone to give books of all kind a try, I went out, bought it, and began to read.

The novel, written by Kathryn Stockett, follows the stories of several women living in Jackson, Miss. in the 1960s. The rst is Abileen Clark, a middle aged African-American maid who works for the Leefolt’s, cleaning their home and taking care of their children. Abileen claims that she has raised several white children as well as her own son, who was killed in a work accident two years before. She spends most of her time with Mae Mobley, Ms. Leefolt’s two-year-old daughter who is often neglected by her mother because she is chubby.

Another woman is Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, a young, white woman who recently graduated from Ole Miss and is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. And while her mother is determined to see her married and with children just like all the other young women in Jackson, Skeeter aspires to be a writer. She attends bridge club with her friends and listens to all the town gossip, but never truly buys into all the political and social views of her friends.

The last woman is Minny Jackson, Abileen’s best friend, and maid to Hilly Holbrook. Minny is sassy and if it weren’t for her good cooking, she would probably never get a job because she talks back too much. But because Miss Hilly is such a ruthless and degrading woman, Minny is eventually red from there too.

The action of the book starts at the height of the Civil Rights Movement where violence is common and Jim Crow is law. One day, while in bridge club, Skeeter is forced to listen to Hilly boast about her new plan which would require every white home in Jackson to have a separate bathroom (outside of the home) for the help. Skeeter is appalled by this idea. She doesn’t share her friend’s ideas on race and was very close to her maid, Constantine, throughout her whole life. After Hilly discusses her plan, Skeeter begins to think about the different treatment of blacks and whites in the south and how bothered she is by such differences. She speaks with a book editor in New York and decides to write a book from the point of view of the help, revealing what their life is really like and the things they have seen at work. The problem: how in the world is she going to get women to open up to her in a time that someone could be shot to death in front of their home for looking at a white woman the wrong way? This is where Abileen and Minny come in. Together, the women work together in secret, recruiting other maids and telling their own shocking stories of violence and injustice.

After the rst few chapters in the book, I found myself absolutely enthralled and pulled into the world of Jackson in the 60s. Every chapter kept me guessing what would come next and dying to unravel the mysteries that Stockett placed throughout the pages. What caused Skeeter’s long time maid, Constantine, to pack up and leave without notice? Why does Miss Celia (Minny’s new boss after Hilly) refuse to get out of bed except to sneak upstairs for hours? What was the terrible awful that Minny claims to have done to Hilly to get revenge when she was red? These questions pulled at me until I could no longer put the book down and one night, around 3 a.m., I nally turned the last page and found myself thinking, “Wait, that’s it?”

As much as I enjoyed Stockett’s characters and found myself pulled into the story, I have to admit that by the nal pages of the book I was disappointed. It’s a great plot, but I felt that certain characters and relationships had been underdeveloped, that some stories ended too soon, and that the end left only positive things for Skeeter but uncertainty and danger for Abileen and Minny. Sure, give the white girl a happy ending, like that’s never been done before. I just think more could have been said to make the story more complete. If I had to give it a star rating I would probably say three out of ve, which is still pretty good. I plan on going to see the lm version of this soon and while I believe the movie is NEVER better than the book, I will keep an open mind because I think that it will be interesting to see characters like Hilly and Minny played out on the big screen.


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