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When the Present has latched its
gate behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbors say,
‘He was a man who used to notice such things’?
May - Mary’s month: a time when the
mother of us all warms the earth with her fragrant breath.
She has been generous with her warm
rains this year, bidding lush growth and abundant bloom.
Following each downpour, the trees sway to and fro, tossing
their newly verdant heads like young women shaking water from
their hair after a shower. The smallest streams sing in chorus
in their headlong rush to the river.
Before the Irises fade and the
pendulous Peonies sag to the rain, we bring the best into the
house to pose for portraits. The roses are in full cry now, and
will cheer us through a long summer season. Soon enough the
rains will end, the heat will crack the clay earth, and we will
beg the towering summer cloudscapes for even a passing shower.
Now we may revel in spring,
profligate beauty though she be. We ourselves are the wasteful
ones, if we miss her show.
The machines have stolen my May. The
task of editing a book has tied me to my computer this month,
and I have missed watching the sticky little leaves unfurl, not
noticing until too late the tiny caterpillars that ate the first
crop of leaves from my Japanese cherry trees or the deer that
cropped my wife’s tulips. I missed watching my grandson mow the
back pasture for the first time by himself and did not pick any
of the Indian Squamish that blooms on the south-facing bluff
along the river.
We once thought fantastic those
science fiction tales of how we might become slaves to the brain
of the computer, which would rule over us with an authority
dramatized in Brave New World and 1984. 1984
came and went and we were still ourselves, but the machine was
evolving. Today, a quarter century later homes and offices are
filled with people staring all day at video screens and digital
displays for their instructions and thoughts, and texting and
ipods threaten personal interaction. Our medical diagnoses are
largely by computer, to our benefit, to be sure. We quail at the
thought of our Comcast connection going down, not to mention the
catastrophe a loss of electrical power would entail.
We can travel to Italy or to Jupiter
without going there, and we strive to conform our voices to the
intonation of OnStar so we can make ourselves understood. Our
Blackberrys allot our days to us, as the immediacy of Google
replaces the wisdom stored in the literature of three millennia.
Our beautiful English language trends to staccato computerese
which old ears cannot catch.
Yet we pause and notice that, just
as peonies wither and die, technology ages and fades as well.
Nothing is as dead as yesterday’s technology, and, unlike
Nature, it does not renew itself. May will come again, year
after year, so long as God allows it, and each new spring, like
a wave of the great ocean, will be the same, yet totally
distinct, and filled with teeming life – life a computer can
only simulate, but cannot create.
Fall Into Art – Third Annual
Art Show benefiting Hendersonville High School’s Academic and Arts
Program, October 2-4, 2009
prospectus for our forthcoming book,
The Founding of the Cumberland Settlements, now available for preorder at
May 28 at 4pm
Dickerson Road Merchants Association
June 2 at Noon
Gallatin Lions Club
Nashville Old City Cemetery
15 at 7pm
Historical Society of Rutherford County
June 20 at 9am-4pm
Rose Mont Renaissance Day
13 at 6pm
Jackson County Historical Society