Sunday, November 14, 2010

Temps Perdu

Arriving home after our weekend at the beach I sorted through my treasures. We had spent a great deal of time speculating about the things that we had found on the beach and carefully comparing them to the fossil guide that was at the house. There is something indescribably powerful about finding part of an animal that lived millions of years ago and physically holding it in your hand; it's almost as if somehow the spatial connection transcends time.

One of the things in my collection is a fossilized chard of what I'm sure is bone. There's a texture to the surface and broken edges that I recognize. This knowledge may come from cooking, but my thoughts are drawn back to a day when I was no more than nine. I was on a weekend camping trip with my girl scout troop in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. We were on a hike and we entered a clearing that was nearly perfectly circular. I have no idea why we stopped, but as the adults talked, we girls started to poke at the oddly curved sticks that littered the ground. When they turned their attention to us, the leaders were horrified to find us playing with pig bones. It turned out that we had stopped to rest on the site of some colonial slaughter house.

Last night, my brother and I sat side by side on a sofa at our rental house. Behind us the Chesapeake Bay darkened as the sun set. In the next room we could hear Treat and Josh trading witticisms and wry observations over the sound of a Harry Potter movie. My lap top was on my knees, and as we talked the screen saver started spinning out pictures from my photo library. Many were of the boys, snapped on past adventures much like the one we were on now. We marveled at how quickly the time has passed and how much they have grown.

I know from questioning them that the boys remember only a fraction of all we've done, but when we dropped Josh off tonight, I asked him if he had a good time. "Yup," he answered, and I believed him, and that was enough.

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