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Well, I guess in the past week we've all learned all there is to know about anthrax.

I've been kicking this around for a couple of weeks, and now venture to make two predictions for American culture over the years to come, assuming of course that we continue to have one. One, there will be a resurgence of interest in philosophy and religious studies as we grapple anew with the question of human evil and the bases for our ethical systems. Two, a culture which for fifty years or more has had the denial of death as one of its central themes will entertain a new morbid fascination.

Somebody remember to call me on those later.

It's hard to give the whole business proper consideration on a day like today, one of those perfect autumn afternoons of warm sun peppered with clouds and a bit of nip to the breeze, one that says winter will come, but it's going to take its time and enjoy the scenery. Peak leaf season is approaching—may already be here or even gone at higher latitudes— and a couple of hours Tuesday were spent in pleasant rambling through the Arnold Arboretum.

Six years in Boston and I'd never gone there, finally did and was glad. The arboretum is 200-plus acre combination botanical study area and city park, part of Boston's aptly named "Emerald Necklace." More garden than wilderness, with every tree tagged and labeled, many of them visitors from distant lands, but then you climb through the pine wood and come out to a fabulous view that seems to include nothing but more trees—city? what city? A hawk circles overhead, scolded by a trio of crows, and the ubiquitous grey squirrels rustle the bushes. We departed feeling refreshed and full of hope.

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson