Cars and Time’s Tricks

One of the landmarks on my regular walks along the river is an old car frame, belly-up and tires attached, half-submerged at the bottom of a steep bank. Over a year ago, when the brown turf of winter was beginning to green, I took a photo of the wreck.

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Today, stepping carefully into a flowering of touch-me-nots, I took another, wondering whether I would note any change.

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Despite the several minor floods that have occurred between then and now, it appears the only real changes are the cosmetic sorts that seasons bring: grass where there was mud, a darker, clearer hue of water, and the dappled light of a leafy canopy. As a former archaeologist, I keep hoping to witness its gradual burial, until it is entirely consumed by the earth, a curious artifact rather than a niggling eyesore.

But time works at its own pace on the earth, building and eroding in thousands and hundreds of years rather than months or days. Or, at least, it has in the past. It seems, lately, that we may not be able to rely always on what we have known or taken for granted when it comes to the shape and speed of time’s passage as it plays out in currents, storms, and the creeping of tides. For now, though, that old car is suspended in time and mud, exposed and broken, watching the seasons wash over its carcass. Slowly, to my eyes, but quickly, to others.

I find time treacherous and slippery. Some days I wish away before they’re over, but others I want to magic alongside me forever. Sending my boys to school today reminds me of this. One is in high school now, the other only two years behind, and they are changing, growing up, less willing to be part of my ramblings. They measure time in minutes and hours — it stretches out before them — and they have little patience when I stop for a moment just to look.

Especially at a rusty, abandoned old car.

5 thoughts on “Cars and Time’s Tricks

  1. The older I get, the more treacherous and slippery time seems to become. Whereas when I was young I probably thought about it more as a vast, unyielding desert where an awful lot of dreary trudging had to be done before the sands shifted and revealed something exciting. I was probably influenced by reading Shelley’s Ozymandias (Sp?) in high school!

    BTW, what are touch-me-nots?

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    1. Ozymandias is a rather unforgettable poem, isn’t it?
      Touch-me-nots are those yellow flowers in the foreground; they are rather shaped like lady-slippers. There are also spotted touch-me-nots, which are more orange. They’re named for their seed pods, which spring open when you touch them. (Even when I know what is going to happen, they manage to startle me!) I should have some closer photos of them on the blog.

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