Commentary: In memoriam

After Capital Gazette shootings, writer finds path to comfort in Emerson

The little blue heron is a symbol of calm amid chaos. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

I have taken to staying away from the “bad news.” But today the headlines hit home: five souls gunned down at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. Once again, we are eclipsed by senseless violence.

One of the five — Rob Hiaasen — I knew from his work at The Palm Beach Post.

I spent years in Annapolis, where the Capital was part of the fabric of the community. It arrived on our doorsteps every day. If we took exception to its editorials, we wrote letters, which were sometimes published.

Learning that the paper was published the day after the tragedy, I was not only filled with grief — but a kind of awe.

Most of us have no idea how demanding it is to come out with a new edition of the “Daily Rag” every day or every week — no matter what. After the shooting, Jimmy de Butts, an editor at the Capital, tweeted, “Reporters and editors give all they have every day. There are no forty hour weeks, no big paydays.” I would add that courage, persistence and love are all part of the equation in getting a newspaper out.

After such a terrible day, an hour spent in prayer, a big dose of Mozart and a stiff drink might be in order. I went to a park, remembering Emerson’s observation that “In the woods we return to reason and faith.” The trees welcomed me with open arms. A pair of rabbits rushed down the trail on some mysterious mission; the chuck will’s widow was tuning up for his nightly concert; a little blue heron fished for his supper — creatures all throwing me lifelines of “reason and faith.”

At the park, the trees welcome me with open arms. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
A blue jay and I shelter in a pine. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Cottontails are lifelines to ‘faith and reason.’ Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Night closes in with the promise of a new day. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

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