Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Meditation on the Water, from Garrison to Cape Cod, Coney Island and a Goodbye to Summer

The equinox arrives and we say goodbye to Summer.

We are all drawn to the water, writer Herman Melville in Moby Dick.   
We are all drawn to it.

This is particularly true for New Yorkers, explains Melville:

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs- commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?- Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster- tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?

But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling And there they stand- miles of them- leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets avenues- north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?

Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries- stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

Just as  Melville describes from 1851, we are all attracted to the water.

We swim all of August, as much as we can of September, every day in the rivers, the creeks, the pool in Garrison.  

Playing in water, zooming from left to right.
We go to the beach, up the shore.
Glance at the wales in Cape Cod.
BBQ and talk about our books.
Write all morning.
Swim all afternoon.
Sing and play the banjo.
Plan for the future.
Look for the water.
Remember the past.
Looking for water
Sailing, feeling the wind along the bay.
Looking at the water.
Enjoy the carnival and kindness of Provincetown
Greet friends.
Feel the changes in history.  This was once land, now its water front.  Soon there will only be water.
We catch waves.
Eat lobster, beer can chicken, make soup,
BBQ sword fish from Hatch’s.
Talk about the German Ideology.
Wander through the dusty books in Wellfleet.
Read Huck Finn tales of the flowing water, the Mississippi and the Oceans, connecting the Caribbean sailors and trade to the continent.
Ideas and bodies, floating down this body of water, Jim hiding in water, eluding foes, struggles for freedom.  
Freud fainted contemplating that ocean feeling.
The feeling of otherness and unknown in the distances.
We read these tales at night.
During the day, we look at seals.  People panic about sharks.
Yet the other is in us.  Difference is here and there and out in the world.
Sleep in reading Moby Dick in the mornings, lay in bed for hours, reading.
The last days of summer.
We go to Provincetown at night, the sunset movies, friends, along the way from the last days of summer.
Back to Coney Island for baseball and New York nights where we watch the ships pass us by along the water,
Summer passes to a fall  Equinox in Holy Brooklyn. 

But for now, let us remember the water.   

From Cape Code to Garrison to Princeton back to Coney Island, where we saw the Cyclones play the final game of the season, summer was grand.  Its hard to let go of the summer of a lifetime. 

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