Homer lived in Cullercoats in northeast England, just north of the mouth of the River Tyne, from the summer of 1881 until 1883. His paintings capture the harshness of fishing village life. There is nothing sentimental in the depiction of fishwives in several paintings, and “Wreck of the Iron Crown” illustrates the dangers of the harsh environment in which fishermen strove for a living and drowned.
Shortly after Homer arrived at Cullercoats, in October 1881, nearly 200 fishermen were lost in a sudden storm farther north along the North Sea coast off the small fishing port of Eyemouth, Scotland. Difficult to be sentimental after such an event. The drownings are commemorated in a modern tapestry in the Eyemouth Museum.
Perhaps, there may be sentimentality in Homer’s “Sparrow Hall,” in the National Gallery of Art, but for the most part, there is little sentimentality on Northumberland’s North Sea coast, with its vicious weather. After Cullercoats, Homer settled in another fishing village on the coast of Maine, and he painted in the winter in Florida and the Bahamas.
Brian Blouet, Williamsburg, Va.
Where was The Post?
There was quite the contentious event on Sept. 13 in Rockville. Police closed a main road and set up metal barricades to prevent demonstrators from interacting. Behind one barrier were those who see immigrants as a benefit to Montgomery County, along with county officials. Behind the other were right-wing celebrities and their minions who see immigrants as a threat and don’t know what a “sanctuary” jurisdiction is. The event was covered on local TV news and on local news websites. Sorry The Post missed it.
Art Brodsky, Olney
Educate us, please
I enjoyed the articles in the Sept. 4 Teaching Slavery special section. However, readers were shortchanged. Only one piece — “When should kids learn about slavery?” — offered referrals to books or other trustworthy resources about the issue.
This was a wonderful opportunity to educate readers that was missed. Has education through journalism fallen by the wayside? Does only the instant entertainment value count, no further learning needed or desired?
Robert Dennis, Gaithersburg
'Metro' is for Maryland, too
I get only the Sunday paper, and I’d like to read something about my community. Apparently, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, happening in my Aspen Hill neighborhood or in all of Montgomery County or even the entire state of Maryland. Out of a 12-page Metro section on Sept. 15, the only mention of Maryland was in two Local Opinions essays .
“Metro” is not just Virginia.
Kathy Viney, Aspen Hill
Remembering a powerful advocate for Tonga
I was surprised The Post did not publish an obituary for Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who died Sept. 12 at the age of 78. Pohiva was a transformative leader who advanced the pro-democracy movement in Tonga, a traditional society led by a highly revered monarchy. Yet, with the transition to modernity, the people of Tonga sought to establish a more equitable balance between their representatives and the noble class in the country’s governance. Pohiva gave voice to those aspirations, leading the movement to change the balance of representation in parliament. In 2014, he became Tonga’s first elected prime minister not from the noble class. He was returned to that role in Tonga’s 2017 elections.
In my meetings with Pohiva during my time as ambassador to the kingdom of Tonga, I always found him extremely thoughtful and dedicated to advancing the welfare of the people of Tonga, as well as relations between our two nations. He remembered fondly his experience visiting the United States to learn about U.S. government (under the federal International Visitor Leadership program) and his association (during his early career as a rural school teacher) with the Peace Corps, which maintains an active program in Tonga.
Tonga, as with the other Pacific Island countries, is extremely vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. In early 2018, Tonga’s main island was ravaged by Cyclone Gita — the strongest storm to ever hit Tonga. Despite his ill health, one of Pohiva’s last official acts was to travel to the neighboring country of Tuvalu in August for a gathering of regional leaders heavily dedicated to spurring greater global momentum in efforts to address climate change. With Pohiva’s death, Tonga, the Pacific Island region and the United States have lost a valued friend.
Judith B. Cefkin, Arlington
The writer is a former ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu.
The wrong image on a day for unity
Regarding the Sept. 12 front-page photographs “After 18 years, memories of 9/11 haven’t faded”:
In my 75 years, nothing has lingered in my memory as deeply as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On that day, we were totally united. The photo of the moment of silence at the White House this year was appalling. This was not a moment for a front-and-center shot of our president and the first lady.
This was an opportunity to commemorate that moment by bringing everyone together as a symbol of the unity that we experienced on Sept. 11, 2001.
Karen Brooks, Silver Spring
Well-done climate coverage
Heartfelt thanks for the deep-dive Sept. 15 front-page article “Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world” and other in-depth climate change reporting The Post has done over the past few years. I especially appreciate that coverage is expanding from covering scientific reports to analysis of available scientific information. It is the kind of analysis that the federal government used to do and should still be doing, but the Trump administration has turned its back on the overwhelming scientific case for human-induced climate change. It is heartbreaking that the administration and Congress are costing the nation and the world more years of inaction when the time for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change is nearly up.
So much of what appears as headline news is of ephemeral importance — the latest inane Trump tweet or political gossip about which presidential contender might have a slight edge for the next week or so. The climate crisis is already changing our lives and is likely to fundamentally alter how and where we live. For the most vulnerable among us, it might become a death sentence. Front-page articles that bring home the huge real-world consequences of climate change are our best hope for galvanizing the action so urgently needed. Many, many thanks.
Nancy Ketcham-Colwill, Arlington
Kudos for Birnholz
When The Washington Post Magazine replaced the late Merl Reagle with Evan Birnholz as the creator of its weekly crossword puzzle, I remember agreeing at the time with an angry letter writer that Birnholz’s puzzles were more difficult to solve than Reagle’s and that trying to solve the puzzle had become far less enjoyable as a result.
Fast-forward nearly four years, and I am regularly able to solve the puzzle. I realize that rather than ruin the enjoyment of working on the puzzle, Birnholz has made me become a better crossword-puzzle solver. Kudos to him!
Kim Hemphill, South Riding
Trump is old, too
On Sept. 14, The Post again highlighted former vice president Joe Biden’s age in an above-the-fold headline [“Delicately, rivals raise issue of Biden’s age,” front page].
At 76, Biden is only three years older than President Trump, whose June birthday was glossed over. Seventy-three-year-old Trump has made many more errors than Biden while speaking, and Trump also makes spelling mistakes in his tweets. His age should also be a topic for discussion.
Dorothy Skinner, Alexandria
Art in motion
Please allow yet another shout-out for truly wonderful photography displayed in The Post. Included in the Sept. 14 The World Digest, the image by the Associated Press’s Esteban Felix of subway riders in Santiago, Chile, is great art. Not to get carried away, but to my eye, there are echoes of Salvador Dali, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leonardo da Vinci and Robert Capa at play in this powerful image of everyday life in that great city.
Christopher Newkumet, Silver Spring
No 'dark days' at one Metro stop
I read with interest the Sept. 10 Metro article “Commuters celebrate end of ‘dark days’ as stations reopen.” The days were not dark for travel between the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and the Pentagon largely because of Metro’s superb effort in providing express bus service between these two stops. I especially want to compliment the Metro employees and managers at both ends who remained positive, polite and cheerful and the bus drivers from all over who did likewise.
For three months, we rode comfortable luxury tour buses for free and parked in the Metro garage for free. At rush hour, I never waited for a bus; at both ends of the route, a steady stream of buses arrived, loaded and departed. Metro employees (all very friendly and helpful) kept count of boarding passengers and ensured no one would stand during the trip. (One time they miscounted and we had two standees.) Even during non-rush hours, the service was frequent and convenient: One Sunday evening, I waited about 10 minutes for a bus at the Pentagon; that is the longest wait I had. One recent evening, my bus left the Pentagon with two passengers rather than waiting minutes to pick up more. (Another bus pulled up as we departed.) The trip on the buses was faster than on the train because the buses did not stop at six stations along the way. I suspect and appreciate that riders from other stations probably did not have as positive an experience, but I think Metro’s effort at the Pentagon and Franconia-Springfield stations is deserving of praise and a hearty “Well done!”
Jim Hertsch, Springfield
There's help here at home
Regarding the Sept. 15 Washington Post Magazine article “Opening lines”:
Thanks for shedding light on the arbitrary restrictions on books for prison inmates. The web of rules and bans seriously obstruct how almost 1.5 million men and women in U.S. prisons can educate themselves, learn needed skills to help them make it on the outside or just have something to read to ease the stress and boredom of prison life.
The magazine looked across the country — to Books to Prisoners in Seattle — for a group dedicated to sending reading material to inmates. But less than a mile from The Post’s offices is DC Books to Prisons. Our all-volunteer organization, in its 20th year, sends about 6,000 packages a year to prisoners in 34 states. It has stocked prison libraries and prison book clubs and sends children’s books to immigrant detention centers and prison visitors rooms. The article mentioned book banning in North Carolina. Last year, a state prison in Raleigh returned an award-winning book our group had sent, Fergus M. Bordewich’s “Bound For Canaan,” about the Underground Railroad. The reason? The same one the article mentioned for prohibiting “The New Jim Crow”: concern it could spark a confrontation between racial groups.
We’re grateful when publications draw attention to prison issues, especially prison literacy. But next time The Post writes about groups working to get books to men and women behind bars, it doesn’t have to go to the other Washington for an example.
Ian Simpson, Washington
The writer is a volunteer with DC Books to Prisons.
It's easy being green
In his Sept. 12 Local Living column, “The front-yard vegetable garden: Can suburbia dig it?,” Adrian Higgins painted an elegant picture of a couple’s lawn farmette and their laudable commitment to growing food. But the choice is not a garden or a lawn. The choice we all should make is for a living landscape, one in which green plants — whether turfgrass or vegetables or herbs or trees — produce oxygen, lower the urban heat effect and cleanse rainwater for us while controlling runoff.
The lawn is not going anywhere and is hardly in retreat. Outdoor living spaces are all the rage. Lawns provides a place for children and pets to romp and play and extend our livable space to the outdoors. Research shows our backyards — which are wildlife habitats, too — are good for us, lowering stress and improving physical health for adults and children alike. Maintained responsibly, you can have a lawn (or a garden) and respect the environment.
Kris Kiser, Alexandria
A gentle reader's plea
Sometimes it’s the little things that are annoying. I’ve been reading the “Miss Manners” column in The Post for 35 to 40 years. It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve noticed a departure from proper letter format in the column. Have we become so casual in our correspondence that even the etiquette advice column no longer uses the more formal response, that of “Dear Gentle Reader”? With no clear delineation, I often cannot tell when the response begins. I think a few words are bolded, but that doesn’t always show up clearly in my daily delivered print edition.
Please, please, dear Gentle Post Editor, return to a proper letter format of “Dear Gentle Reader” for this column. Surely it doesn’t take up that much extra space.
C.M. Caldwell, Gainesville