Sunday, June 14, 2009
Destroyers And Rabbits
Lathyrus japonicus-Beach Peas
The Vietnam War and the Sexual Revolution flavored the background for my teenage development. I entered the sixties as an innocent five year old and came out a jaded fifteen year old. By the time the decade closed, I had done drugs and had sex. So, as 1970 dawned, I was sure that war was wrong and that everybody should have sex whenever they wanted. Now, forty years later, I’m not so sure. Theoretically, the more years a person lives the wiser they should be, but for me, the opposite is true. With every breath taken I’m less certain because the older I’ve become, the more times my core values have been tested. When I walked in on my son, then later, my daughter having sex the test was huge! Each of them was older than I was the first time I had sex, but still - I was appalled. How dare they! Not my children! They may disagree, but I think I was cool about it. There weren’t any dramatic scenes and they were each suitably mortified. I was ultimately, more taken aback by my own gut reaction than about what they were doing. First, I was sure that my generation had invented sex. Certainly, this was true because my parents never had sex. Ugh! Oh shudder and wince; what a revolting thought! And my dear sweet little children would never have sex because now we know: I would kill them! So what was my horror about? Wasn’t it perfectly natural and to be expected? It was very okay for me when I was a teenager, why wasn’t it okay for them? Many nights I wrestled with that crocodile; hypocrisy floundered in a swamp of dreams. I concluded that natural as it is, teenage sex is not sanctionable (easy enough since I’d already had my teenage sex!). When children have sex, they are not prepared to be responsible for the consequences of their actions. I know I wasn’t, even though I thought I was. After all, I knew everything there was to know. The life altering fallout of disease and unwanted pregnancy seemed even manageable to my naïve mind.
Now that I wrapped that up with a nice bow for my psyche, that brings me to war. I wish that was as clear. Ideally, I would like to say that I’m opposed to war. I’m opposed to the death penalty so it should be clear, right? But, what if somebody intends to do harm to those precious children having sex like rabbits in your living room? Do you stand back or do you fight back? My response to hurting the ones I love would be damned primal; I’d hurt the other guy if it came right down to it. I’d mangle the beast that messed with my kids. I know this because I’m the mother of the rabbits. That’s taught me that I’m capable of things my intellectual mind thinks repugnant or just impossible. I’d like to think of myself as more evolved than the aghast mother who stood slack jawed while her daughter and the pimple faced boyfriend scrambled for clothes. But, I’m not. I’d like to think that I’m sophisticated enough to rise above my fear for my own losses to not wage war. But, I know I’m not. After all, I did have sex in my parent’s house while wearing a training bra. The drives are basic.
Fort Popham, built of granite in the 1840s, sits where the Kennebec River meets the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the school year, teachers take students there for a last dose of history, a romp on the beach and at the old fort. These kids were throwing sea weed, screaming and daring each other to go into the cold water when this destroyer appeared. It’s a Bath Iron Works Littoral Combat Ship, the U.S. Navy’s first Trimaran war ship. Designed for speed and maneuverability, at 419 feet long, it was awe-inspiring. I wish that we could design a better way to settle our differences on the globe and defend our rabbits. I wish that teachers could tell kids about old forts and destroyers as truly things of our human past. I hope I never am a shocked, bewildered mother screaming “Not my child!” if one is lost to war.
The Spring Azure butterfly is a little guy, only about the size of a nickle. This one was enjoying the Beach Peas at Popham, but usually they prefer woodlands.
Rock Doves (feral pigeons) have nested in the observation slits in the granite fort.