Monday, October 13, 2008

In 1492 Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue

I had forgotten it was Columbus Day. Such has been the emotional, financial and political see-sawing of the past few weeks that the struggle has been to stay in some kind of balance. The trees in Central Park remember their assignment, and turn yellowish, the most audacious of them flaring out bottom branches of orange. A friend newly returned from Massachusetts says the leaves at the topmost of those trees are pink, and I wish I could see that, but understand we are always where we are supposed to be, so I must be grateful that I am here with not just the leaves changing, but the world as we knew it. There is a piece in the Times today about a woman in LA cutting back by drinking espresso instead of Latte, and the writer’s amazement at her then not bursting into laughter. So in a strange way I miss what has seemingly become my home, though one I probably will not be able to keep, where the view is so narcissistic you can’t see the foraging for the trees.
Sitting in the park this morning I was startled to hear a drumroll, and trumpets, and remembered the court-clad(Isabella, la Reina) young man I saw walking there last week, medals and plumes and silk-ribboned cloak flaring, asking him what that was about. He said he was from Spain, and was one of a group of musicians that would be in “the celebration.” So I made my way to Fifth Avenue, though wary of the crowds, and watched from where the carriages are stationed, as a corps of drummers went by, such elation in their drumming. And I realized this was the great event in their year, probably all that had consumed them in these surreal weeks, making sure they were in step, and in tempo.
Then a giant stage, with wine-red curtains, with tapestried ceiling and huge gilded heads at its corners was carried by, and in it graceful young women in harem clothes danced, while beside it umbrella-carrying ladies in long white dresses paraded. None of it made much sense, at least not to me, but so thoroughly were they engaged in what they had doubtless been practicing and living for, that it was genuinely enchanting.
So I realized that between the leaves, which my friend who’d seen the pink ones, explained to me was because of the dying of the chlorophyll with the loss of the heat of summer, doing what they are meant to do, changing colors, and the drum corps and the dancing harem girls, and the proud young man in his courtier clothes, that the most and best we can do is our job, that which we have been rehearsing and sometimes getting a chance to perform. That, and working for the good, and hoping for it.
Made phone calls for Barack over the weekend, and went to dinner with some Norwegian sisters who stopped me on the street because I “looked so happy.” They had both of them been disappointed in love, but left a fortune by an aunt, a dentist who discovered Fluoride, from studying the teeth of porcupines. That would have been, to a dentist, what Don called ‘The Mother Lode’ when speaking of what The Godfather was to Mario Puzo. And it was probably that for Columbus, too, finding us, though he doubtless didn’t know that then. And hey—it really worked for a good, long time. And maybe it will again.