a blog from monmouth county by calvin schwartz
I love the holiday season; sentimentality, introspection, wonderment (wide-eyed), and memories of people who walked on earth when I was a youth. To prepare I visited my jetty in Belmar at the Jersey shore and sat for a spell after a walk on the beach close to the foamy cold water. I wanted to catch the wind. My friend, Reckless Ostrich jumped on my shoulder and whispered, “In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty, I want to be, in the warm hold of your loving mind.” I appreciated that. I needed that. “For standin’ in your heart, is where I want to be, and I long to be, ah, but I may as well, try and catch the wind.” Thanks to Donovan. If I do catch the wind one day, I’ve got a promise to myself’; to journey to Montana for Christmas Eve; hopefully in a snow storm that winds down just before midnight. No annoying city lights. Just a starry, starry night. Sitting on the jetty (my friend from Seattle who knows who I was a few hundred years ago sent me this pix; a Native American on a jetty-it hauntingly looks like my jetty right now.)
I saw a lone ship heading to Kilimanjaro (they always seem to go there when I’m here). (Of note: Martina Navratilova tried climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro the other day) A few seagulls were nearby. I called out, “Jonathan!” The bird looked at me in recognition. I think every seagull is Jonathan. They all seem to look alike. I like Jersey seagulls. They’ve got moxie, swagger and confidence. I’m thinking ahead to Christmas Eve (I’m reuniting with some ‘kids’ from the old street in Newark. We haven’t seen each other in 50 years) sitting on the jetty. There’s nothing like a Jersey jetty jutting out into the ocean. I look left and I’m in the middle of the ocean. I look right and I’m even with the beach which has regained its virgin likeness with just my footprints in the sand. It is desolate here; that’s why I like it now. Every Christmas Eve for the past five decades I watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ starring Alastair Sim who is the only Scrooge there ever was in this good old town and on this good old jetty. The movie is magical. I’m really back in old London town. I’m in Scrooge’s apartment the night that Jacob Marley’s chained ghost came to visit. I’m still scared; I’m under Scrooges’s bed squeezing a post hard. I over heard that spirits are going to visit. A seagull just swooped over my head.
I’ve got two hours on the jetty before the sun goes down. Scrooge had two hours before the spirit of Christmas past. Scrooge had a girlfriend he let slip slide away because of good old greed and money. I remember my childhood in Newark: a gift set of Lionel trains that went around and around, finding out Pearl Harbor was a place not a person, and knowing the value of family and siblings. I was a kid; those notions are long past. I learned the song, ‘Feast of Stephen’ in grammar school. Scrooge had a sister ‘Fan.’ I had a grandmother who fanned my sisters and me with a newspaper because it was hot in Newark during the summer and we were too poor to buy an electric fan or prunes (sounds a bit like Dickens). Then the spirit of Christmas present. The Cratchit’s said bad things about Scrooge. Tiny Tim defended Scrooge. Another ship just crossed my horizon off of Belmar as I still think about the movie. The Cratchit’s struggle to survive. Scrooge is so unaware and unfeeling about his environment. I worry on the jetty about Asian tigers becoming extinct in twelve years. I know they talked about the problem in St. Petersburg, Russia recently. The Wildlife Conservation Society pledged $50 million to save Tigers. Why doesn’t the world do more? All the scenes around Christmas in the movie are cold, black and white, covered with snow. I’m on a jetty now, a few weeks before Christmas, wearing just a Rutgers sweatshirt. It’s barely cool. I think about climate change arguments. I laughed on the jetty. I’m glad I was by myself. Jonathan stared though. I think of Scrooge saying, “Humbug.” A nice way to use the ‘bull’ word. Dickens was a gentleman. There were 135 daily rainfall records broken along the east coast in September. 2010 is hottest year ever? In August an island the size of Manhattan broke off from a Greenland glacier. Moscow had a heat wave. One-fifth of Pakistan was flooded. The world responds by not responding. Global carbon dioxide emissions climb as economy recovers. China loves coal. The Senate failed to pass a climate bill.
But it’s almost Christmas. And Scrooge is visited by the Spirit of Christmas yet to come. I’m excited but cautious about ‘yet to come.’ Scientists report partial reversal of age related degeneration in aged mice. Good old telomeres. Good old London town. Wonderful old movie. Columbia University researchers are using brain-computer interfaces to help computers perform tasks they can’t manage on their own. In the year 2029 a computer will pass human intelligence. Colleges may switch to E-textbooks. A rogue wave just splashed me; woke me up from dreaming. When Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, I’ve never seen an actor display such pure joy of being alive. He yells to a little boy to buy a turkey for Bob Cratchit. Alastair Sim was pure ecstasy. He ran all over his apartment because he was really alive and was going to fix and make things right while there is still time. Then to celebrate life and vitality, he stands on his head on a chair; more purist joy. I’ve been waiting patiently to re-create that scene. I’ll know when it’s time. I even know the chair I’m going to use. I can’t wait to watch the movie. I can’t wait for technology to make things better. I can’t wait to wish everybody including Tiny Tim where ever I may find him, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.”
Gift suggestions/stocking stuffers on website for novel: http://vichywater.net/
Also book trailer link on youtube.
True spirit of Christmas echos throughout this piece…I agree, I can hardly wait for Christmas; a time of year when everyone spreads love, joy and good cheer to one another….I just danced and sang with strangers to good ole American Christmas carol at Cracker Barrel; only this magical time of the year!