A delicate evening breeze, stars poke at me through the trees, and I enjoy summer on my deck here in Georgia. But if I close my eyes I’m transported back to south Texas, to the shore of Baffin Bay, a part of the Laguna Madre. Night-fishing in the surf with boyhood friends. We gather to spend the entire night, laughing, casting our lures, late teenagers still, but with one foot already off into adulthood.
Don’t go back into the brush! The hordes of salt-marsh mosquitoes will follow you right back onto the beach, breeze or no. Lay down in the gentle surf, the salty waters will protect you.
I ask myself – did Alvar Cabeza de Vaca, the old Spanish castaway – did he walk these very shores on his way down to Mexico? Did he also lay down in these very waters to avoid mosquitoes? Did he gaze upwards, as I have, at the southern skies. My grandmother took pleasure in showing me the constellation Scorpio. Did his grandmother do the same? “Alvaro, mira! El Alacrón.” Always I search for red Antares in Scorpio. Did Cabaza de Vaca look for that star?
We hurry into life until it casts us aside. We cannot return to yesterday, fish in
Baffin Bay, not as we one did. My fellow fishermen have had their victories and struggles. Like me, they now count their smaller successes. Some have passed through the veil; we others wait our turn.
But tonight I’m impressed with those celestial markers, the constellations we view on long nights. They remind us of other ages, the continuum of struggles we all must share, and that relentless march of eternity. Cabeza de Vaca's long trek; our own uncertain paths.
The constellations take me back to Baffin Bay, if only for a moment. Baffin Bay has changed, for certain. New developments, perhaps some windmills. Fishermen, their tackle, those are different too. Yet I can count on Scorpio to guard my moments for me on the beach of Baffin Bay.
In June it’s a bit early to search for Scorpio. This coming August, on a clear evening, join me in searching it out. Wherever we are, in whatever exile we find ourselves, we can share the moment and the memory.
June 26, 2015.
“The bird of time has but a little way to fly. And Lo! The bird is on the wing.” – Omar the Tent-maker.