A blink of the eye

Teens, moonbeams and the faraway sound of bells -- the moment passes, but Table Talkers remember.

Published June 2, 2006 8:00AM (EDT)

Private Life

Things I don't get.......

oxane - 03:07 pm Pacific Time - May 26, 2006 - #1840 of 1910

Everyone around here is heading up the 5 or the 101 or the 10. Not me. I love to stay home on holidays.

I don't get why some of my neighbors drag their kids off to hot resort towns for every single holiday there is when their kids want to stay at home and make a lemonade stand, ride their bikes and skateboards, and just hang. Why not alternate?

I guess because at the resort towns both parent and kids can have a vacation, because of all the recreational activities. But I do think kids just need to hang sometimes, though, right in their own homes. There are going to be a lot of young teenagers running through my house on this three-day weekend.

Yeah, it's noisy and it's constant feeding and trying to find a way to get five of the boys to the beach at the same time, but then they run out the door and I feel the breeze through my second-story windows and see the lovely flowers in my garden and hear the wheels of the skateboards clack off into the distance and understand that this time will never come again. He'll be 18 years old in four years and won't be looking to me to be the master of ceremonies on these long weekends.

He'll be off at one of those resort places, or perhaps up in the high Sierra with a girlfriend or a party of whatever, and there will be no more 14-year-old boys clamoring in the kitchen or asking to be taken to the local pool or to the In N' Out for 10 double-doubles with everything but onions.

(well, maybe that last thing will occur)

I don't get how fast it's all gone. I don't miss his toddler days - I couldn't go through that again - but I already miss these days.


Answer a question, ask a question, Part IV

EllaL - 04:56 pm Pacific Time - May 29, 2006 - #8953 of 9072

One night in Yosemite Valley, the moon was full and shining so brightly that we had no compunction about running crazily around the trails even though it was approaching midnight. (Also because we were in high school and chaperone-less and stupid, but that's not the point.) So we were being silly and rambunctious and playing tag and generally having fun in the moonlight, when we approached a huge waterfall (it was early spring, so the waterfalls were in full force). The spray off the rocks was creating a gentle, even mist over the clearing, and as we came around the bend, a beam of moonlight shone straight onto the waterfall and created ... a moonbow. Not a rainbow, since there was no rain. No sun, either, just the reflected light of the moon. But it was definitely there, arching over the pool at the base of the falls. It was like a rainbow seen in a black-and-white movie; all the colors of the spectrum were there, and distinguishable, but strangely muted. Proof that the principles of physics involving light and small water particles can work even under the most trying of conditions.

(And perhaps an equally strange natural phenomenon was seeing a bunch of rambunctious teenagers running around a bend and coming to a dead stop, jaws dropping in awe, speaking only in hushed whispers to say, "Do you see that?" "Look from over here!" Even teenagers are not immune to magic.)

Maybe not the coolest phenomenon ever, but I've never seen it happen since.

White House

White House Bar & Grill: XVI

Rosella - 08:49 am Pacific Time - May 31, 2006 - #5238 of 5303

On my desk this morning is a string of bronze bells -- they range from 3" across to 1" across; the brass is embossed with anchors on the larger ones, and with ox heads on the smaller, and their wooden clappers are long gone. They have hung outside my door for many, many years, and the other day the string broke and they fell down with a great clattering chime, landing in the garden, and that's why they're inside -- to be restrung. The day they fell was the day we heard about the Jogjakarta earthquake.

I bought them in Jogjakarta many years ago -- we had taken the train from Jakarta to Jogja to visit Borobodur, the 7th century Buddhist stupa which stands in the mountains a few miles from Jogja. We stayed at a new hotel, eerily empty except for us. It was built by the dictator Sukarno as part of his attempt to bring tourism to Java, but after the revolution and Suharto's assumption of power, the hotels were pretty much deserted -- tourists didn't want to come to a country which had been so torn. In the morning, we woke to a wonderful liquid sound -- looking out, we discovered that the traffic was mostly oxcarts, pulled by humpbacked white oxen with great dark eyes, painted horns, and all wearing bells on their yokes. The wooden clappers striking the bronze bells made a lovely sound, and I went to the market later that day and bought a string.

So, when I heard about the earthquake, I thought back to that visit to central Java and the kindness and generosity of the people we met, both there and everywhere during our years in Java, and the strangeness of the bell string breaking that day. Although a little reflection makes me realize that it is very Javanese to believe in spirits and warnings, and I evidently have not been making appropriate offerings to the gods. At my house in Jakarta, the spirit which lived in the water pump expected cooked red rice every day, and the over-all house spirit needed rose petals in a silver bowl.

I hope that the survivors of this disaster will get help quickly, and that their lovely city and countryside will be rebuilt, and I wonder if there are still oxcarts in the streets, and batik artists painting by hand with tjantings on cotton to make the traditional court batiks, and indeed, if the sultan's court still maintains its own dance troupe, and if the chickens still peck around the sultan's courtyard along with the goats. Is the enormous crystal chandelier in the Audience Room still dusty and cobwebbed, and does the guide still wear a goldprinted cloth on his head, and a fancy kris on his belt?

Borobodur is undamaged, I understand, although Prambanan, the Hindu complex nearby, has been extensively damaged. I wonder too about the little 8th century chandi of Mendut -- a small temple with a beautiful large statue of a bodhisatva. When we visited Mendut, there were fresh flowers in front of the statue -- even though Buddhism is very little observed now and has been overlaid by Hinduism and, of course, Islam. From the top terrace of Borobodur, you can see a ring of four volcanoes, including Mount Merapi -- active and always steaming a little. Merapi (fire mountain) has been very naughty of late, and before the earthquake was sending down hot gases and rocks. Better put out more offerings.

By Salon Staff

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