Back to Boston after spending a few days on Cape Cod. Most of the time there I spent walking, buttoned up in a wool blazer, wind full in my face — and I have rarely been so happy. I spent a lot of time on this stretch of the Atlantic when I was a child, so maybe the content I felt had its roots in first memories; the bracing air, the inviting sea… As I bent to pick up a shell a wave spilled out and soaked my shoes, and I broke into laughter and tucked the treasure into my pocket. When I get home to California it will join smooth bits of beach glass and similar trinkets I started collecting from the sand as far back as I can remember, and let me tell you, that was a long time ago.
Even so, I have lived now a year longer than my father. I remember Mom and Dad on these beaches, teaching me to dive beneath the breakers, surfacing in smooth ocean waters to swim as long as they would let me; and that seemed like forever. Memory is its own kind of eternity, and here it will always be summer, and my parents always young.
Virgil, the ancient poet wrote the phrase time flies around two thousand years ago (29 BC) in a long verse poem called, The Georgics. This is a translation from the Latin by John Dryden (1631-1700). I particularly like this passage:
…Oft, too, when wind is toward, the stars thou’lt see
From heaven shoot headlong, and through murky night
Long trails of fire white-glistening in their wake,
Or light chaff flit in air with fallen leaves,
Or feathers on the wave-top float and play.
But when from regions of the furious North
It lightens, and when thunder fills the halls
Of Eurus and of Zephyr, all the fields
With brimming dikes are flooded, and at sea
No mariner but furls his dripping sails.
Never at unawares did shower annoy:
Or, as it rises, the high-soaring cranes
Flee to the vales before it, with face
Upturned to heaven, the heifer snuffs the gale
Through gaping nostrils, or about the meres
Shrill-twittering flits the swallow, and the frogs
Crouch in the mud and chant their dirge of old.
Oft, too, the ant from out her inmost cells,
Fretting the narrow path, her eggs conveys;
Or the huge bow sucks moisture; or a host
Of rooks from food returning in long line
Clamour with jostling wings. Now mayst thou see
The various ocean-fowl and those that pry
Round Asian meads within thy fresher-pools,
Cayster, as in eager rivalry,
About their shoulders dash the plenteous spray,
Now duck their head beneath the wave, now run
Into the billows, for sheer idle joy
Of their mad bathing-revel…