By Jane Hirshfield
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape,
but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs--all this resinous, unretractable earth.
I have had a very lovely waterside Monday, as we drove from home to Virginia Beach via a couple of stops elsewhere in Virginia, like lunch at a parkside rest area and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Lighthouse Museum. The latter was particularly enjoyable -- it's on the site of the oldest naval shipyard in the US, building ships for the Union during the Revolution and the Confederates during the Civil War, and now the museum houses models, artifacts and a large scale model of the shipyard from more than 200 years ago.
Then we continued on to Virginia Beach, where we checked into the hotel -- our suite is on the sixth floor overlooking the ocean -- put on our bathing suits and went down to the water. It was over 95 degrees and the ocean felt fantastic; this is a very clean fine-sand beach with a layer of sharp pebbles and shells a few feet offshore, and today the breakers were only about 6-10 feet high. I found my first mole crab of the season, a great big one more than an inch long, within moments of first sticking my hand in the sand. After a couple of hours of swimming, building sand castles and picking through shells, we went to the hotel pool and superlative hot tub, then came upstairs for dinner.
We took a walk in the evening on the strip across the street from the hotels, which is a typical Atlantic beach shopping area (ice cream, salt water taffy, hermit crabs, tie-dyes, shovels, surfboards, shell jewelry and dozens of silly pirate souvenirs) along with a historic coast guard station and naval aviation monument (there were military jets flying overhead occasionally). Beach clothing is some of my favorite, and I bought a tie-dye sweatshirt and an Indian cotton dress for absurd sale prices while we ate soft serve ice cream. While waiting for the boys to get ready for bed, I watched the William and Harry interview, which was interesting; I have almost no interest in the British royals, but having been in England several times since Diana's death, reading about them was almost unavoidable!
This is the American Rover, a rebuilt cargo schooner that sails out of Norfolk and cruises the harbor near the museum.
A paddlewheel ferry passed behind the lightship on the Elizabeth River.
Not far offshore in Virginia Beach, the pirate ship Pieces of Eight menaced the coast!
Pirates are very popular around here as mascots outside of clubs and stores.
So, unfortunately, are shipwrecks. At the rear of the Naval Aviation Monument, the Norwegian Lady commemorates the sinking of a Norwegian ship off the coast here in 1891.
Poor Pluto. Not only has it been relegated to dwarf planet, but now astronomers are saying that Eris (formerly Xena) is bigger!