The Inexorable Crawl of Time


Two thoughts before I close down here to lose myself in a glass of wine and some stupid television…

Hubby and I made the most of this lovely day by going to Rocky Neck beach this morning to walk on the sand.  There were several groups of little kids there on spring break and they were such fun to watch.  Three groups were inner-city kids and, oh my, weren’t they having an adventure!  One little girl — dressed like a doll — danced back and forth at the water’s edge, kicking her feet in the spray.  Another group was, I believe, a play group.  They were all in bathing suits, but for one little boy who summarily divested himself of all clothing and knelt in the sand, buck-ass naked, to dig a hole.  A little girl (one of his digging partners) kept repeating “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…”  Wonderful!

Then we drove to the Airline Trail and took a four mile hike.  I love the Airline Trail.  It’s built over an old railway system (Google it if you’re interested) and used by bicyclists, horseback riders, and walkers.  It’s a beautiful area and the trail meanders up, down and around, through woods and over streams.  I love this time of year, when the Earth is waking up.  Water has a particular sound as it rills and trickles into new spots and spaces.  The air smells fresh, clear and unsullied by the heavy moisture of summer.  The sunlight has a clearer quality, too, and the wind teases you with both warmth and a residual chill leftover from winter.  Marsh flowers are in bloom, bright yellow against peaty brown.  Skunk cabbage unfurls its leaves and ladyslippers appear.  Squirrels dig, deer forage.  Bluejays and crows scream and caw.  These woods are old…but not that old.  Cutting through them are stone walls that once were the boundaries of fields.  You can see the farmers still, if you look hard enough…stoop shouldered men digging and plowing, some with horses to help, others not, pulling rocks from their land and, together, building a wall to lean against when they pause to pass the time.  These lichened stones have seen so much and they hold their stories close.

When we arrived home, I spoke with my niece Michelle…third time in four days.  She’s assumed the role of caretaker of my elderly parents and spends much of her time with them.  She’s awfully good about keeping me up to date.  My mother isn’t doing so well.  She’s in her decline and the past couple of days have been bad ones as far as her memory goes.  She doesn’t know where I live anymore and can’t remember ever having been here.  She thinks Michelle’s sister, my niece Leslie, is alive, although Les died over 20 years ago.

Watching Mom, talking to her, is like watching a time-elapse photo of erosion.  Time is flash-flooding across the plain of her memories, gouging the soil of her brain, sweeping away whole years, whole decades in a heartbeat.  What she knows one moment, she’s lost the next.  There is no stemming this tide, no Dutchboy to place his finger in the crack to keep back the sea.  All any of us can do is stand on shore and watch her recede.  We wade in, wet to the hips, wanting to catch hold, to pull her back to us, but she’s outward bound, tugged by a current we cannot fight and cannot change.  All we can do is wave from shore and watch as she grows smaller.

One of these days, she’ll disappear altogether.  And then where will we be?

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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One Response to The Inexorable Crawl of Time

  1. Becky says:

    You will be remembering, that is “where” you will be. It is a bitter sweet experience. Mom did not live long enough to “forget” us. I don’t think I would want that. But then again, if it meant having her here still, maybe I could. I wish I could see your mom again.

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