Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not Watching Time

With the change to Daylight Savings Time the other day I tried to update the time on my watch by “springing forward” and realized that the battery in it had died. I had decided beforehand to give it away when the time came to replace the battery so that is what I did and I am thoroughly enjoying being untethered from a timepiece, some version of which I have worn since I learned to tell time as a youngster.

Meanwhile, I am reminded of the story from Gulliver’s Travels when the Lilliputians question if Gulliver’s watch is his god because he is manacled to it at the wrist and he consults it so much. Of course, we can do without a watch much easier nowadays, what with our smartphones and other electronic devices conveniently at hand to tell us the time. But there is something beyond mere symbolism to me in the act of literally loosing oneself from its grip.

It was actually my wife who first dispensed with wearing a watch last year after returning from a particularly relaxing vacation and enjoying the feeling of not watching time. She wound up giving it to my mother, who needed a new watch herself and was more than happy to take it off her hands. As for me, I was only wearing my watch as a fashion accessory on the rare occasion when I dressed up some, such as at church, so I looked forward to quitting it altogether and I am not looking back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Return From America

My wife and I recently returned from a brief visit to “America,” as Nantucketers refer to the mainland. After four wintry months on this spit of land thirty miles out at sea we were invited to spend a couple of nights with close friends from Nantucket at their rental home in Hyannis on Cape Cod, a two hour ferry ride away.

After a rocky ocean crossing during which I “lost my lunch,” [an experience shared by Thoreau upon his visit here and which he called “paying tribute to the sea”] we proceeded to thoroughly enjoy our stay off island. In addition to watching television and playing Scrabble with our friends, we also indulged our latent desires for food chains, including a relaxing chai latte at Starbucks and a hearty steak supper at Outback.

But one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip came when our friends loaned us their vehicle for the day, which gave us the opportunity to explore Cape Cod’s back roads, including one called “Old King’s Highway,” a meandering scenic road through several picturesque New England villages complete with general stores.

The one pictured above, the Old Village Store, is located in the town of West Barnstable and has been in continuous operation as a general store since before the Civil War. It was even featured, along with the adjacent railroad depot, in the period movie called The Lightkeepers, which was filmed on Cape Cod and featured Richard Dreyfus and Blythe Danner. It transported us back in time even as it served as a waystation on our journey.