Wind the clock

Grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, carriage clocks, ship’s bells and complicated watches (all manual of course) have forever been a cherished purlieu of mine.  Not only are they the object of my entertainment and attention (often a weekly mandate for winding or just supervising their remarkable precision and constancy), they represent a reliable, repetitive, predictable, measurable and manifest account of the passage of time rendered in a convenient and stimulating cast.

While brunching at the golf club today with ancient friends we were alerted to the burgeoning growth of youth, another of life’s eclipsing absorptions. Our guests, two parents, showed us photographs of their four children. The eldest, Zanthy, has lately graduated from completion of her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University. To give you a hint of the explosive effluxion of time to which I earlier alluded, it was a hot summer day in late August of 1996 that I first serendipitously encountered Zanthy’s father as he jogged along the Ottawa River where I was seated with a friend from Almonte having a picnic. He had not then either met or married his wife Lisa. Since then they have traveled the globe together with their family; and today they brought us news of their children’s unfolding enterprises. Considering all that has transpired in that period of time, not the least of which is the initial coincidence of the father’s employment with a friend in Almonte and the opening confederacy at a dinner party in Almonte; a pre-marital foregathering with them both in Ottawa; visits with them in Almonte; a connection with Thornhill (where they now live) going back to my prep school days in 1963; breakfast with them and their children on Anna Maria Island (linked with a friend from undergraduate in 1968); and other social conventions similar to today’s brunch in the Village of Appleton, it is utterly remarkable that anyone is still standing! To my further astonishment I found myself chatting to my friend over coffee this morning about his eventual retirement from the bench.

It all seems to have taken place so quickly. Like the clocks and time pieces I earlier mentioned, one wonders how much one or the other has wound down; whether one or the other of us requires a clock master’s attention and repair; which of us now qualifies as the grandfather or the grandmother clock or the one whose springs no longer chime on the quarter-hour; or whose pendulum is in need of lubrication or adjustment; or whose mechanics demand new parts? The parents echoed the flourish of their family only by remarking that they hope for the wellbeing of their children.  Already they are on the precipice of abandoning the fledglings ejected from the family nest.