Armchair Peregrinations

May 25, 2003

I was out at the beach the other afternoon -- early evening, actually, just before sunset -- relaxing in my lounge chair for about 45 minutes, absorbed in the mesmerizing and calming sounds of waves breaking on shore as the tide came in. It was one of those unusual times when the ocean's surface was not far from calm, and the breakers were huge and made those sudden clapping, pounding sounds as they surged ashore. What power and energy in those waves! The ocean is elemental. I feel very much at peace out there.

May 20, 2002

This is the time in spring when some of my favorite flowers bloom: the great creamy white blossoms of the Southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflora); honeysuckle; and gardenias. The magnolia's flowers fill the tree and are sometimes hard to reach over and smell because they are too high. But every now and then one is close to the ground and I can stoop over and smell it's lemony fresh scent. Honeysuckle and gardenia are indescribable. Just magnificent. The honeysuckle will bloom on into the summer and until fall, but the gardenia and magnolia flowers will soon be gone. I enjoy them as much as I can. They makes spring in Charleston that much more beautiful.

May 17, 2003

The wind stirs the oak tree outside my window. I hear a bird. The air conditioning cools luxuriously. Summer is settling in before it's officially summer.

This week has flown by. It seems that when there is so much to read and do and think about, time becomes more or less compressed until it flattens out and you are hardly aware of its passage, especially when you have a fixed work routine.

I find myself trudging to the kitchen every morning about the same time, and it become a sort of choreographed dance, albeit slow at first until I have had my coffee. Then out the door and down the stairs and the first impressions of the day outside my apartment come to me in the form of air temperature, insect sounds, cars pulling out of parking spaces, a door closing in another apartment, other miscellaneous sounds.

The other day a co-worker about my age and I were commiserating about wanting to be doing something other than work and how retirement sounds better all the time. This is something I have to guard against because that is still years in the future. I have to be concerned that I find ways to make my job more challenging to me and my day exciting for the little surprises it offers beyond the expected routines of the day. Still, there are mornings when I want nothing more than to stay home and relax in the endless comfort of my own litte book-filled apartment.

May 14, 2003

One of the surest signs that spring is departing is the fading of the clover. There are a couple of lots full of it that I pass every day, and now it is about gone with the warm sun and approaching summer heat. I notice that each day. Clover is so fresh and sweet and green in early spring and lasts for weeks here. Sometimes I am tempted to just lie down in it and smell the scent of it mixed with the earthy fragrances of the ground.

May 10, 2003

Everywhere the legustrum have been blooming, and I stop along the sidewalks to smell this flower's sweet and subtle fragrance. It wafts into the air and I notice it before I get to the large and small bushes that are more common than one would realize in any other season of the year.

We had huge bushes 12 feet or more high in front of our apartment in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, when I was a kid, so these many years later the fragrance of legustrum reminds me of my childhood. Each year at this time I am carried back to the past by this one plant that has such lasting and timeless associations. And, I usually write something about the experience as I am doing now.

May 8, 2003

College of Charleston
4:15 pm

The sprinklers are watering the lawn at the garden as I write this, a breeze is blowing, and the waterfall in the fish pond next to where I'm sitting sings musically and sweetly. It sounds exactly like a little stream rushing over boulders in the mountains.

This is so relaxing. I wish I could stay for another hour and just listen to the sounds of late spring, be cooled by the wind, and think of nothing much in particular. Just moments of pleasant daydreaming -- that will do fine.

May 6, 2003

This past weekend in Sumter I walked late in the afternoon in Memorial Park, where I love to see the century-old oaks. They are such massive trees. I delight in watching them change with the seasons. But there is also a very old tulip poplar tree which must be at least 150 years old. It towers over a far corner of the park, regal and distinctive.

Every year in late April and early May it blooms -- the entire tree is covered with yellow and orange flowers that look just like tulips. They are slightly smaller than tulips, but not much. To see this ancient tree -- 100 feet tall or more -- full of these flowers is an extraordinary sight. What a grand testiment to the variety of wondrous living things in Nature. I am always happy to sit on the bench beneath this tree.

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