The occasional fall day.

This morning dawned clear and unfortunately cold.  Not that I have anything against autumn – it’s my favorite season in fact – but the more icy portions of it I don’t find appealing.  I’d rather stay securely under the covers, thank you.  Today was one of those days that was just brisk enough to make me want to linger in warmth.

But at this time of year, the colder days are the clear ones.  Autumn provides some of the best times for stargazing.  In the colder air, without clouds to obscure and warm the earth, the heavens open up.  Amazement reigns.  And if we are lucky, we might gain a little perspective and understanding. Of course, most of the days are overcast, but I think this serves make the clear ones more stunning, more memorable.

For me it is often a time for reflection.  In particular this year it has been so.  The stress of applying to schools and deciding what I want (for the rest of my life) has been painfully coupled with the loss of a relationship which I thought was secure, throwing my choices even further into doubt.  I’ve felt very lost about many things, and regaining my balance has proved more difficult than I initially anticipated.  Friendships, more often than not, have felt the strain.

To remember who you are is to begin to know who you want to be and how to move forward.  I’ve spent time thinking about things I thought I’d left behind.  I’ve thought about the idea that making a life with someone else was a key towards what I wanted, that a steady companionship or a passionate love were the two options for where I wanted to be in my relationship with someone. I’ve begun to realize – emotionally, not just intellectually – that either option is not enough.  That even both combined is not enough.  I think of Tony, and him trying to do Teach for America after graduation, and his move into a job, any job, when that failed.  I think of Mike, and his one-time medical goals and his current doubts about what he will do with his life.  I think of Abe, lost somewhere in the wilds of West Virginia accomplishing – hopefully – something lasting.  And with sudden clarity, I feel balanced again, as if I begin to know what it is I want.

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We don’t know what it is, but it sure is something.

I am extremely interested in the ways in which modern science cannot tell us about our past.  Take, for example, a recent boat wreck rediscovery off the coast of Alabama.  The wreck has so far been identified as either the Rachel (wrecked in 1933) or the Monticello (wrecked during the Civil War).  Of course, further study may reveal more possibilities for identification.  The wreck was originally half-buried in sand off the coast and was then (or this is my understanding from the poor wording ofthe article, but that’s another story) thrown further on shore by recent storm systems.

Now, both boats were schooners that did wreck in that general area at about the appropriate time.  So the shape of the ships themselves would probably be somewhat similar.  Still, there are small things that would probably lead to the identification of one boat or the other.  One expert mentions steel cables, which the wreck may or may not have, as possible only for the later ship.  Also there should be some apparent burning on the Civil-War era boat, which supposedly was burning as it ran aground.  Still, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean says “You can never be 100 percent certain unless you find the bell with ‘Monticello’ on it, but this definitely fits.” Ok.  How about reasonably sure?  How about even more than half sure?  Do I hear 55%?

I can understand some hesitation on the part of the experts to make faulty claims when they have not yet had a real opportunity to understand and investigate the wreckage, so I’m perfectly hapy to wait for some real results.  I also agree that the wreck should be moved and protected as quickly as possible, especially after one strom flung it right up on shore from being half-buried.  Still, the idea of another storm sending the wreck flying “through those houses there like a bowling ball” amuses me.  But I’ll leave the current shipwreck flying jargon in the hands of the experts.