Tuesday, February 5, 2008

About 'the salad days, the halcyon years'

From "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books, 2006):
Those were the salad days, the halcyon years! The sleepless nights, the wailing babies; the days the interior of the house looked like it had been hit by a hurricane; the times I had five kids, a chimpanzee, and a wife in bed with fever. Even when the fourth glass of milk got spilled in a single night, or the shrill screeching threatened to split my skull, or when I was bailing out some son or other -- or, in one memorable instance, Bobo -- from a minor predicament at the police station, they were good years, grand years.
Isn't that what we wish every year could be? "Good years, grand years." Do we know these "salad days" while they are happening? Or is it only from the vantage of time -- as the narrator is an old man, looking back -- that we realize how "halcyon" our days have been?

Today--how was it for you? Did you drag your butt out of bed, slug your coffee, and settle your butt into your office chair (or where-ever), calculating how many hours until lunch, then until home? Was the highlight of your day when the email came around that said "come get donuts"? Did you have to go to your inner happy place (for hours) as you plugged away at your computer? Did you just need to crash when you finally got home, exhausted by...not much of anything?

Maybe you're not getting enough salad.

"Water for Elephants
" is about the circus, about a young man who leaves veterinary school to, literally, run off with the big top, and his months with the menagerie and the performers and the workmen change the course of his life. I'm thinking maybe it's easier to have a grand life when your past includes an elephant named Rosy and a chimpanzee named Bobo.

I'm feeling a little gray--it's been foggy for two days, and raining some of it, and I really miss the sun. Lent starts tomorrow, and when you work in a Catholic environment, you know that means six weeks of everyone "giving up" something--they really take that "fasting and abstinence" seriously. And, the groundhog saw its shadow last Saturday. Remember how long I thought January was, and that it might be a good thing?

Well I was wrong.

I did really enjoy "Water for Elephants" -- it's really fun to discover a new writer you like. And you know what? I get to go to New York City again next week! Oh, and March 1--it's only 24 days away! Meteorological spring!

Yea I'll talk myself out of it.

How about you? How halcyon are your days?

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