A Happy Birthday
By Ted Kooser
This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.
From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in this morning's Washington Post Book World. Ted Kooser, the new U.S. poet laureate, is from Nebraska, and Hirsch says that "there is a sense of quiet amazement at the core of all Kooser's work"; he believes that "something about the Great Plains seems to foster...a sturdy forthrightness with hidden depths...the open spaces stimulate and challenge people." Kooser's new book is a collection of portraits, Delights & Shadows, with an epigraph from Emily Dickinson: "The Sailor cannot see the North, but knows the Needle can."
Today we went to the 150th Anniversary Festival of the Sea, the commemoration of the 1854 relaunch of the USS Constellation after the original 1797 Constellation was broken up and some of her timbers used to build this one. The celebration is still going on tomorrow, so if you live within driving distance of Baltimore, you can go! They are particularly interested in having descendants of original crew members attend.
Am posting early because soccer starts tomorrow morning. Then we have haircuts, a last-minute run for the school supplies we have not tracked down yet and hopefully a little while at the pool before the insanity starts in earnest.
There were many crewmembers in attendance, sweltering in Civil War-era costume in 90-degree heat.
There were new exhibits on the weapons and equipment, plus the brig was accessible. For people who have not visited in several months, the restored sickbay is now open to the public, too.
The crew (mostly sailors with a few marines) demonstrated the loading and running out of the guns...
...and practiced firing a broadside. However, they did not actually load and fire the 20 pounders...
...as the port side guns are aimed at Harborplace and the harbor shuttle traffic lanes. Instead they fire the little cannon on the spar deck, loaded with black powder and wads of paper to make an impressive noise without blowing anything up.
Outside the museum were activities for children, including demonstrations of sailor's knots and this make-your-own-ship center. My older son designed this one. Don't ask me to explain the color scheme on the sails.
And I just have to show this off...the first day of issue cover for the USS Constellation stamp...
...which debuted in Baltimore during Sailabration this July! The envelope has a silk print of the Constellation sailing off Naples, Italy in 1856 and the cover has a different painting of Constellation at anchor, both by Thomaso de Simone.