Saturday, September 11, 2010
On the ramparts of Fort Monroe
On Friday while I was at Fort Monroe I found time to climb up the grassy ramparts of the old stone fort and to take in a beautiful sunny morning over Hampton Roads.
The water glittered, a ruby red light glowed in the lantern of Old Point Comfort lighthouse and the sun played on the mellow stone of the sleepy widows by the Casemate Museum.
The rolling grass ramparts made me think of places back at home like Pickering Castle in North Yorkshire, a fortress on the edge of the tumbling moors where the dark forces of history have been rolled over with a large lawn mower and anointed with the smell of new mown grass.
If you take the old stream train to Pickering and stop for tea in the town square, you could be forgiven for thinking the world is a harmonious place of dancing light, never touched by an evil thought.
The reality is less comforting. After three days of being left with a bawling infant and a high maintenance five-year-old, I was getting close to snapping this morning when the aforementioned five-year-old woke me up before 7 a.m. to ask me if she could open some candy.
There are a million tasks on the to-do list and no time to do them. I was starting to wonder if I would finish the day with even less hair than when I started it. I was wondering if Sponge Bob on three TVs would finally render me as incoherent at Patrick.
Then everything changed when I took a phone call from my wife who is in Canada looking after her father who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Nine years ago the photographers on my newspaper were looking at images of people jumping from tall burning buildings, wondering which ones weren't too harrowing to use.
There are things I don't like to dwell on, but I am thinking about them now.
On the ramparts of Freedom's Fortress where slaves were released from bondage 150 years ago, it was refreshing to feel the fall breeze on my face. I am free and I'm alive and suddenly I feel very grateful.