For a quiet day following a national holiday, last Friday was busy in our offices.

One of the day’s unexpected delights was arrival of the new North Coast Trail Map and Guide.

Steven Blakesley of the Clatsop County Health Department brought a copy across the street to us.

The full-color map’s subtitle includes “the North Oregon Coast and Mountains and Southwest Washington Coast.”

In addition to depicting trails, the map shows kayaking sites and bicycling routes, including elevation gain. The map is printed on weather resistant paper, so it has a long life in our challenging climate.

Blakesley said that trail map is available at Bikes and Beyond and the Fort Clatsop bookstore. Other outlets that want the map can obtain it through Debby Wilson at the Fort Clatsop bookstore.

•••

Speaking of useful guides, my wife and I picked up a great guide to hiking in the Columbia Gorge. In a play on the title of a children’s book, it’s called Curious Gorge. With the dimensions of a Farmer’s Almanac, this 100-plus page book fits easily into a backpack or automobile glove compartment. It describes some 109 hikes and tours.

When?I lived in Portland during the 1970s, I became an avid Gorge hiker. This book depicts a bundle of routes I never got to.

•••

The first day of our new publishing year crept by me. The Daily Astorian entered its 141st year of publication July 1. If you live in Astoria, you become conscious of what I call the town’s archaeology – the lives and stories buried beneath the surfaces we inhabit. Being part of this newspaper makes one especially aware that we are all part of a multigenerational epic that began a thousand years ago with the Chinook Tribe and more than 200 years ago with the Astor party’s arrival. The human fabric and the human comedy is rich here and its history runs very deep. That is the joy of being in the journalism business in this place.

•••

In summer, I rediscover War and Peace. I’m a little over half way through Leo Tolstoy’s massive masterpiece. It’s a delight to pick up where I left off and reacquaint myself with Tolstoy’s genius at setting a scene in one sentence, or maybe two. In A.N. Wilson’s biography of Tolstoy, he talks about how readers became sentimentally attached to the book’s characters as they awaited the next installment. I fully grasp Tolstoy’s power as I renew my attachment with Natasha, Pierre and all the others.

•••

When Hitler broke his treaty with Russia and invaded, the Russian composer Serge Prokofiev began to set Tolstoy’s saga about Napoleon’s invasion to music. The Prokofiev opera is a massive work, with 72 characters. Thus it is seldom performed. I had the good fortune to see it while on a seven-day tour of Russia in 1977. Three others from New York and I walked to the Bolshoi Theater, not knowing what would be showing that night. It was War and Peace.

Last week at the San Francisco Opera House, I found a set of CDs of the recording which Mstislav Rostropovitch did of this work in 1986. In the accompanying text, Rostropovitch describes conducting the opera’s first performance.

In the Stalin years, Prokofiev tried to exercise his creativity while being hounded by the Soviet cultural watchdogs. After the first performance of War and Peace, the Kremlin arts police gave the work a critical review, calling it too “formalist,” which was a bureaucratic death sentence.

Thus when my friends and I saw War and Peace in 1977, we noticed that the audience barely applauded. We were mystified, because this was a huge work, a beautiful work and a work based on the topic of Russia’s greatest novel. Now I understand that Stalin’s long arm was preventing the Muscovites in 1977 from responding emotionally. Fear runs deep in that country.

— S.A.F.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.