Monday, March 28, 2016
A Break From the Usual
While I may have mentioned last week that it was the breaks in my school and work routine which allowed me to squeeze in a few hours of genealogical research in an otherwise impossibly filled schedule, sometimes it is the breaks from research that help enliven that return in earnest.
Since yesterday was Easter Sunday, I decided it would be a good day to push away from the computer and let a break from research do its refreshing work. My husband and I are deep in the throes of empty-nest syndrome, so with only the two of us to join in holiday festivities, we had a relatively low-key day. Dinner was great—as it always is when a gourmet chef grills steaks on the barbecue, augmented by the season's first treat of fresh asparagus—but I just wanted something more to round out the afternoon.
Sunshine and spring temperatures always lure me outdoors, so I suggested picking up some ice cream and heading to one of the marinas on the other side of town to watch the boats come and go. Our city is perched on a delta, so we have ample waterways to afford that type of activity. Lest you think it far too early for an afternoon out on the river, remember this is California, where we sported a high of seventy two yesterday.
Despite ample opportunities to do so, this isn't something we ordinarily do on a Sunday afternoon. In fact, it wasn't until I was halfway through my ice cream when it dawned on me where that out-of-the-blue urge came from: a childhood memory.
You see, many years ago—and nearly three thousand miles from here—my dad used to load us all into the family car, drive to Carvel for some ice cream, then go park at the marina in the next town, where we'd watch the boats cruise by. We'd just chat idly on a summer afternoon while staring at the calm waters and the sailboats drifting by—or the speed boats just chomping at the bit to break out of restricted waters.
After we returned home yesterday afternoon, I pulled up Google Maps to review just what that spot by the old marina looks like, now. Sure enough, I can still trace the route from our home on one side of the canals to the marina on the other side. I can't tell you what our family talked about, those sunny afternoons when we'd grab an ice cream snack and go sit at the marina, but I still remember how to get there.
Looking at that map brought back all sorts of childhood memories—the kind of activities and places I'd love to share with my own daughter, if we can ever manage to jibe schedules and travel plans. Yes, those are the little things of life's memories, but they still are part of what makes us what we are today. And it adds so much more to our current family history to be able to pass along those memories to the next generation. After all, if each generation preceding us had passed along their stories, and each subsequent generation carefully handed them along to the next generation, in time, we'd have a collection of recollections that would make even the most particular genealogist jealous.
As it turned out, while I thought the day's activities were just perfect for taking a break from my usual daily genealogical research, it only served to recharge my perspective. It's inspiring me to pursue, with due diligence, those fleeting memories of generations just-past—before the opportunity is lost to capture and preserve the stories that need to be remembered.
Above: "Clear Sailing," 1880 watercolor by American landscape painter Winslow Homer; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.