by James Joyce (1882 – 1941)
Excerpt from Molly Bloom’s final soliloquy
…..O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
When my Mother and Father were in their early 20’s, over 60 years ago, they would go on long car camping trips each summer. The kind of trips most people only dream about today taking 2 or 3 weeks and traveling all over the west. To define how different those days were is nearly impossible. There was no working remotely back then, vacations were a vacation, you couldn’t be reached. My mother had several favorite memories of Yosemite; My Mother and Father met her sister and husband. They had corresponded by mail, lining up the date and time and approximate camping spot they would rendezvous. That might seem archaic in this age of hyper connectivity. For two adults to simply agree to meet months in advance at a spot on a map, and then without any further communication both arrive within hours of each other at that spot. How glorious it would be to return to those days! For all the convenience of a cell phone it is also a curse. We are never out of reach of our everyday life. We are constantly at the mercy of the next teleconference. We have relinquished the peace and rejuvenation that a vacation afforded the generations before under the banner of productivity.
My Mother also fondly remembered an earlier visit, when she went alone by train 10 years prior and visited Yosemite with her sister and then boyfriend. Yosemite still had the nightly performance of what was called Firefall. Firefall consisted of a large bonfire set ablaze before sunset on top of the canyon wall with a sheer face that overlooked the central valley. And then shortly after sunset the park rangers would push the fire, embers and aover the ledge, to create a stream of fire falling all the way to the canyon below. It is impossible to contemplate something like that today. First the fire danger would be out of this world and second, having park rangers set fires for the enjoyment of campers entertainment is not the education message the national park service espouses today around conservation. But it was incredibly beautiful and strangely safe in its day. It was nightly ritual during certain times of the year for decades, enjoyed by millions who visited. It was a celebration of our connection to something visceral about fire and nature and lighting up the night. It is something that will never return again except in the memories of those who tell the story from long ago.
My girlfriend is off on an old fashioned wander; car camping and hiking in the west. She has that need of connection with nature, with the mountains, with the west. It is an ancient calling that rings in many of our hearts, the primal need to connect with the beauty of nature and the connection that we have with the wilderness.
Safe travels for all who are headed out on a car camping trip this summer. What are the stories your parents or grand parents tell about their experiences in National Parks over the years?
The Song of Wandering Aengus
by W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.