Reflections on Water
I’m sitting by the window and listening to some of the sweetest music this side of heaven—the sound of rain. Raleigh has been dry for so long that lately I’ve been discounting Greg Fischel’s predictions as wishful thinking. So, last night when he spoke about the probability of rain, I scoffed, until—
Yes, it’s raining! Actually raining! Taking time out to enjoy the sound, the sight, the scent of rain I sit here and suddenly I am remembering Loy Kratong .
Of course Thailand’s Festival of Water and Light is in November and it’s across half the world, but we are talking about memories. Memory is our private time machine that will take us anywhere, anytime, and for any reason whatsoever.
There are memories and memories, and Loy Kratong is one of the keepers. Back in the 60’s when we lived there, Bangkok was unspoiled and beautiful with jewel-toned water lilies blooming in the many klongs, or canals. On the night of the festival, the tropical twilight was as translucent as a watercolor painting, and while hilarious water-fights were being waged all over the city, thousands of Thais took little, candle-lit boats down to the klongs and let them float away.
Ah, the scent of incense mixed with the scent of frangipani and jasmine! While we snacked on ice-cold custard apples and mangos and bananas plucked fresh from the tree, our year-old baby, Bert, perched on his father’s shoulders and sang, “Loy, loy, krathong!” meanwhile clapping his small hands.
We all have remembrances that we put away until some unrelated happenchance releases them. When this happens to me, I’m sometimes content just to reminisce. On occasion, though, I gather up the threads of the past and try to weave them into the present day. It doesn’t always work because the people we were back then are different from who we are now, and revisiting old dreams makes me realize too clearly the passage of time. These days I can’t manage what I once hoped to do. Bicycling through Europe or dancing the Viennese waltz in Vienna on New Year’s Eve are beyond my capabilities, and the young family that rejoiced in the festival of lights so many years ago has grown older. So hasBangkok. What I hear about pollution and crime in the City of Angels grieves me to the heart.
So, instead, I find I’d rather remember how things used to be. I’m not alone in this, mind you. “Remember when…?” we ask each other, voices softening as we share and revisit the past. Looking at these memories is rather like staring at our reflection in a clear pool. Filtered through the years, wrung dry of petty annoyances or imperfections, long-ago events are as lovely—and as ephemeral—as the images shimmering in the water. Look, I can say to myself. See? I was young once. I could dance all night when I wanted to!
If we stir up this pool of water, other memories will rise to the surface. Should we let them come? Do we really want to? Perhaps it’s wisest to accept what is reflected back at us, smile or laugh or wipe our eyes, and then turn back to enjoying the present which, in the fullness of time, will also fade and become memory.
Across the years,
The river blazing with light
And a baby’s voice.