Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pretty Halcyon Days

The smell of the sea breeze evokes strong memories of childhood. Familiar. Secure. Sadly, the sense of adventure and fun gave way to studiousness and sensibility as I grew into adulthood. ......Why?
With the passing of time, I have come to realize the importance of retaining and nurturing our “inner child” – the spring that feeds creativity and forges balance in our lives.
As a pre-teen, two of  my much loved books were penned by Ogden Nash and Omar Khayyam. Their verse now induces similar responses to a whiff of ocean air -  they are my cognitive “sea breeze”.......... Winter nights in front of an open fire with siblings jostling for “the best spot”. Mother's cooking. Family meals around our expansive kitchen table. Laughter. Father reciting A Sentimental Bloke. Being curled up in bed, protected from the cold by layers of heavy, grey, woollen blankets. Reading by torch light.  Long, repetitive concerts performed for our parents. Hand knitted bed-socks. Flannel pyjamas. Nighties made of feather-light Swiss cotton, bought from the local haberdashery and lovingly sewn into night attire by Great Aunt Isabel. .............Precious times.

Pretty Halcyon Days
How pleasant to sit on the beach,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun,
With ocean galore within reach,
And nothing at all to be done!
       No letters to answer,
       No bills to be burned,
       No work to be shirked,
       No cash to be earned,
It is pleasant to sit on the beach
With nothing at all to be done!

How pleasant to look at the ocean,
Democratic and damp; indiscriminate;
It fills me with noble emotion
To think I am able to swim in it.
       To lave in the wave,
       Majestic and chilly,
       Tomorrow I crave;
       But today it is silly.
It is pleasant to look at the ocean;
Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall swim in it.

How pleasant to gaze at the sailors
As their sailboats they manfully sail
With the vigor of vikings and whalers
In the days of the vikings and whale.
       They sport on the brink
       Of the shad and the shark;
       If it’s windy, they sink;
       If it isn’t, they park.
It is pleasant to gaze at the sailors,
To gaze without having to sail.

How pleasant the salt anesthetic
Of the air and the sand and the sun;
Leave the earth to the strong and athletic,
And the sea to adventure upon.
       But the sun and the sand
       No contractor can copy;
       We lie in the land
       Of the lotus and poppy;
We vegetate, calm and aesthetic,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun. 

Ogden Nash 

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