ing: SERITARBORES QUAE ALTER!rnSECULO PROSINT (“He plants treesrnto benefit future generations”). Dr. Kirkrnwas a tireless planter of trees, vines, andrnshrubs. The testimony of his work surroundsrnthe Piety Hill properties, formingrnboundaries and lining walks, providingrnwind breaks and privacy, beauty and fragrance.rnAnd Russell and Annette cultivatedrnother sorts of trees. They providedrnthe good soil for the growth of spiritualrnand intellectual culture, and all of thosernwho came to Piety Hill, students and visitors,rnwere nurtured in the things of thernmind and spirit. One trusts that thernKirks’ labor of love and dut’ will continuernto inspire those who came to themrnover the decades, prompting them tornprune the decayed branches of our culturernand to renew the vigor and health ofrnvalues, ceremonies, and truths whichrnought to endure.rnDespite Dr. Kirk’s death in 1994, thernwork of cultural renewal continues atrnPiety Hill. Annette Kirk has establishedrnthe Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal;rnthe Resident Fellows programrncontinues; ISI seminars are still heldrnthere; and the University Bookman is stillrnpublished quarterly. Although Dr. Kirkrnis no longer with us in the flesh, he is veryrnmuch with us in spirit, and his spirit—hernwould say ghost—still guides and presidesrnat Piety Hill.rnMichael Jordan is an associate professorrnof English at Hillsdale College.rnLetter FromrnFlorencernby Andrei NavrozovrnBeyond BugsrnI am actually writing this from a lonelyrnplace called Marsiliana, in the Maremmarnregion of Tuscany, where my Florentinernhosts have a hunting lodge. It is lessrnthan half an hour by car from the Argentariorncoastline, my inspiration for lastrnsummer’s seaside letters, and I rememberrndriving past its desolate form wheneverrna group of us got together to gornbathing in the hot springs of Saturnia,rnmuch ftrrther inland. We always used tornask everybody on the way, from ancient,rnmustachioed, somnolent taxi drivers tornneat, young, eager gas-station attendants,rnabout the apparently inaccessible townrnon top of the hill, and were always toldrnthat it’s not a town, just an old castlernwhose owners are never there.rnWell, now it turns out that it isn’t a castlerneither, just a hunting lodge, and —rnadding to the confusion —not only arernthe owners there, but smarmy old Navrozovrnis as well, busily blending in with thernscenery in his borrowed Barbour andrngum boots. “Iz gryazi v knyazi” as we sayrnin Russian. Literally this means “Uprnfrom the dirt to mix with princes,” but Irnlike the proverb so much I think it mayrnbe worthwhile to dramatize it a bit. If Irnkept a diary in verse, in the style ofrnPushkin’s Eugene Onegin, what followsrnhere might be the entry under “Marsiliana”:rnIn the Maremma, shooting wildrnboar.rnNow, Ralph Laurens of the worldrnAnd Ronald Landers:rnBehold a son of Khrushchev’srnslumsrnHobnobbing with a prince’s sonsrnAnd daughters!rnI am not sure this is ideal publicity forrncashmere turdenecks, but at any rate itrnhas helped me to work some populistrncynicism into the warp and woof of thernstory from the very beginning, so as not tornhave to worry later about sounding a littlerntoo breathless for my own good. Asrnfor Ronald Lauder, he is, believe it orrnnot, a leading collector of medieval armsrnand armor, a kind of Frederick Stibbertrnof the Hamptons. Really, somedmes Irnjust can’t decide whose foibles are funnierrnand more pitiful, mine or other people’s.rnEven assuming it’s mine, I must boldlyrnproclaim that I hate the countryside inrnwinter, and in Marsiliana I finally realizedrnthat this feeling goes far beyond therncity dweller’s conventional squeamishness,rnbeyond bugs, beyond big fish eafingrnlittle fish, beyond homosexual intercourserninvolving two apparently strayrnmutts committed in broad daylight andrnobserved through a picture window duringrnbreakfast. I realized that what I dislikernabout the countryside most of all isrnthe insidious facsimile of contentment itrnpromises, that smug, saccharine parodyrnof the myriad real satisfacfions one experiencesrnin town even when simply crossingrnthe street without being hit by a latenightrnbus or sitting down in a cafe withrnthe hard-earned foreknowledge of a goodrnespresso. Urban life is order, which isrnconducive to ordered thought. Countryrnlife, by contrast, toughens the skin whilernsoftening the brain.rnConsider the notoriously deleteriousrneffect the country has on otherwise perfectlyrnwell-behaved city children who,rnjust hours earlier, could be seen workingrnon chess openings and asking charminglyrnnaive questions about the second partrnof Faust. Yet here they are, those samernchildren, rolling in the dirt with threeleggedrndogs or brandishing muddy sticks.rnAs for the effect on adults, it is perhapsrnenough to remark on the self-sahsfied airrnwith which grown men light a fire in therngrate, or tend a wood-burning stove ofrnthe kind there was in every bedroom inrnMarsiliana. They really suppose that byrndefrauding their families into thinkingrnfor a few hours that the rooms have centralrnheating they have achieved somethingrnof lasting ethical value. Deus misereaturlrnBut then of course there is also myrnfrankly hedonist side —which some peoplernmight suppose would anyway bernwholly dominant in the easy life of a Russianrndegenerate —and the truth is thatrnnothing alarms this aspect of my characterrnmore than the sight of a bare treernin wintertime. A leafless branch sprinkledrnwith freezing rain is, for me, whatrna barbed-wire fence pimctuated withrnwatchtowers is for a person of ordinarilyrnsturdy disposition. “Holy hell,” I say tornmyself, “just give civilization a littlernpush, and the whole world will be coveredrnwith trees exactly like that one.” Inrnshort, dominant or not in the general runrnof urban existence, in the country myrnsybaritic side comes to the fore. Here itrnrears up and protests, it winds up grandfatherrnclocks in dimly lit hallways andrnransacks old cupboards for train timetables,rnit makes friends with excruciatinglyrnboring couples without children whornhappen to own cars.rnWhen resisted, as good manners andrnthe peculiar responsibilities of a guestrndictate it must be, this irrepressible sidernof me becomes truly vicious. How inventivernits sarcasm! How observant itsrncriticisms! How condescending its acknowledgmentrnof life’s simpler blessings!rnThus, in Marsiliana, it quickly seized uponrnthe C and F for “Calda” and “Fredda”rnengraved on the water faucets, mutteringrnat bath time that they stood for “Cold”rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn