The last run of an extended season. The snow was choppy and pooled with water that sucked the life from my board. The heat of the day was nearly intolerable. And yet, as I rounded the corner behind Facelift, I was once again reminded of the main reason I choose to strap (a piece of plastic on my feet) and throw (myself off the side of mountains)… The mountains are so enchanting, always. They call to me, as you – my most faithful of kingdomites – know to be truth. And what can I do but answer.
The advertisement had said there would be plenty of wood for the fireplace and there was. It stacked neatly on the small patio, taking over the space entirely. All we had to do was crack open the slider and bring in the few logs we needed to replenish the stash inside.
It became a rotating game for a few nights while we lounged in our snow covered hideaway. A few logs would be burning wonderfully warm in the fire box. When they disappeared to glowing orange coals we would replace them with the logs that had been drying in front of the open flames and those, in turn, would be replaced by a new batch of logs pulled in from the patio.
Round and round we went, from sitting to stoking to gathering to sitting again. The long hours of darkness in the cozy room passed quickly. They always pass too quickly. The early morning alarms of the following day send us to bed long before we grow tired of the mesmerizing fire.
Cindy’s mom offered her a photo as the two sat next to each other over breakfast on a lovely summer morning. The daughter was prepared for the game and eagerly grasp the photo to see what gem from the old world she was going to get to see.
The contrast between her summer heat and the cold and snow in the picture was the first thing to jump out at her, but Cindy quickly discarded the idea of responding about that. With her mom there was always something deeper to look for, some lesson to be learned. The next thing that caught her attention was the dangerousness of driving automobiles in such conditions and how foolish they had been as a species at that time. But, they had already discussed pride on a different morning and Cindy suspected that the risks humans used to take was closely aligned to their pride.
That was probably the trick with this photo, Cindy thought. Her mom wanted was testing her to see if she would jump to mention the cars and the slick and icy roads or if she would delve further and see what else was going on. And then she spotted something so ridiculous she blurted it out, slapping her hand across her mouth immediately after, but too late, of course, to keep the words from reaching her mother.
“Are those snowflakes attached to that light pole?”
Ignoring her daughter’s embarrasement for having spoken without thinking it through, Cindy’s mom urged her to continue on that train of thought, “And why is that so surprising?”
Removing her hand from her mouth, Cindy returned her attention the picture. She realized she had lucked into the the right answer and she needed to study the photograph to determine what exactly about the snowflakes had drawn her attention. “Why would they hang snowflakes like that in a place that gets covered with snow and ice every winter already? It’s not like they need a reminder of what they look like. From the histories we’ve studied it sure seems like living in those conditions was a lot of work. Placing the snowflakes there feels like a slap in the face.”
Cindy glanced into her mother’s face and saw approval there. She had done well and allowed herself a smile. But, the smile dropped to a frown as her curiosity forced her to ask, “So, why would the old generations have done that?”
“The snowflakes were part of the decorations that went with the holiday known as Christmas, and for our purposes today they represent the truth that over time all pageantry and traditions will trend toward the absurd. As the people who first began to honor something with a celebration die off, the original ideas behind the why, behind the need of that celebration will distort as their children take over, and on and on until eventually people find themselves doing things that no longer make sense, or are offensive, or are ridiculous, simply because ‘it is tradition.'”
Cindy nodded as she processed her mom’s response and then asked, “Is that why we no longer have holidays of any kind?”
“That’s one of the reasons, yes. This picture was taken in a time of excess, near the height of humans reign and power on this planet. As the years grew harder and we diminished, we had to work harder to survive until we no longer had time for such silliness.”
“Will we ever return to a time of excess?”
“Everything is cyclical. What we had once, we will have again. But, with all that we now know about the world, would you really want to return to a time like that? Would you really want to live in a world that behaved so poorly?”
Cindy studied the picture one last time. “No,” she responded firmly and then handed it back to her mom to file away with the rest of the photographs.
What do you see?
Write it, link it to this week’s Once More With Feeling challenge, and then post it so we can all read your thoughts and ideas inspired by the photograph provided.
He saw it all: the buses, taxis and other traffic roaming far and wide across the bridge, the young couple seeking shelter and a quick embrace below their umbrella, the family out for evening stroll despite the downpour. He watched and witnessed and let it go. Life went on as always. Time never stopped.
There had been times, sure, when it seemed like time must stop. With the world in turmoil, sirens blaring and the streets deserted as people sought shelter wherever they could, he had thought on more than one occasion that the planes would come and time would stop. The death they brought with them almost certainly would carry over to time. It seemed inevitable, and, yet, it never had.
The seconds had continued to roll to minutes, and the minutes to hours, and then the hands would swing around to herald a new days, as they always had since he had first been given life.
Yes, Big Ben, saw everything go on around him. He watched seasons turn. He watched the world war and love. And through it all he tracked the passing of time.
Perhaps that was the only true inevitability of the universe – another second will follow.
He was honored to be one of the prestigious markers of that universal truth.